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What Is a “Plumbing Trap”? (It’s Actually a Good Thing!)

plumber-with-sink-p-trapNo, a plumbing trap isn’t when a low-skilled plumbing contractor does a bad job on your repairs but still charges you an exorbitant rate. That is a kind of trap, and one we hope we can rescue you from with our excellent services. But the term plumbing trap refers to a specific piece of plumbing. It’s one you see often but think little about. As long as the trap does its job, there’s not much reason for you to think about it.

But when a plumbing trap doesn’t work, kitchens and bathrooms can go wrong in a hurry.

The Plumbing Trap, a.k.a. The P-Trap

A plumbing trap is a curved piece of drainpipe, made from metal or PVC plastic, that is located underneath a drain. When you open the cabinets beneath a kitchen sink or bathroom sink, you’ll see this distinctive curved piece. Similar plumbing traps are located out of sight under other drains in the house, such as the shower or the bathtub. The piece of plumbing is also called a p-trap because the curve and the long extension that goes into the wall makes the part resemble the letter P.

The reason for the plumbing trap is to create a barrier in the drainpipe that prevents sewer gas from rising back up through the drain and into the house. Sewer gas naturally rises, and it would drift up into living spaces through drains unless blocked. The plumbing trap’s curve retains water inside it, and this blocks the sewer gas. It’s simple gravity at work, and the plumbing trap has been used in some form since the ancient Romans.

Plumbing Trap Troubles

There are two common plumbing trap issues. One is simple to fix. The other may require calling professional plumbers to fix it.

  • Dried-out trap: If a drain isn’t used for a few weeks (this can happen in guest bathrooms), the water in the trap dries out. Sewer gas will start to escape. If you notice an awful odor from a drain, it might be a dried trap. Pour water down the drain for a minute to restore the water plug.
  • Clogging: The plumbing trap, unfortunately, is a prime spot for objects to become stuck and create slow drains and clogs. Soap scum, hair tangles, and food waste can all become stuck in the trap and lead to even more buildup. Simple sink plungers often can’t fix these tough clogs, and you’ll need to call a plumber for drain cleaning.

Like any other pipe, the plumbing trap can also develop leaks. If you ever notice water in the cabinet under your sink, look to see if holes in the trap are responsible. Call for a plumber to remove the trap and put in a new one.

Look for the Best Plumbing for Your Home

Most plumbing trap problems are basic repairs for Ambler, PA plumbing professionals. Our plumbers can figure out what needs to be done to restore your drains and then have the work finished fast.

Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling is the premier home services company in Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Arrange for plumbing service.

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