Sink Trap Cleaning
Is your sink clogged?
Discover how to clear up the trap and get back to normal again.
Clogging of a home sink is quite common, and this sometimes requires the removal of the trap underneath the sink to take out the debris.
In a few simple steps your sink can go back to draining adequately in no time.
First of all try out these few things before removing your drain:
- Run some extremely hot water down the drain to try to clear up the blockage.
- If it doesn’t work, try to use a plunger in the sink – slowly push down, then quickly pull up.
- If these still don’t work, then it’s time to take out the drain.
You will need the following tools in the removal of your drain: Bucket, rags, channel lock pliers or wrench, duct or masking tape, and cleaning brush.
Sink Trap Cleaning: Step 1
Identify the drain trap located underneath the sink. You will mostly see these pieces underneath the sink: slip joint nuts, a tailpiece, a waste arm, a “J” bend (“J” shaped trap), and a piece of pipe through the wall.
These pieces are together referred to as a “P-trap”.
Place a dish pan or bucket under the trap which will collect any water that might spill during the removal of the trap.
Sink Trap Cleaning: Step 3
Loosen the slip joint nuts situated on both sides of the trap’s “J” section.
You may use your hand to do this, but older plumbing will likely require a wrench or channel lock pliers to unscrew them.
If your trap has a decorative or metal finish, you should make use of a strap wrench in order not to scratch the finish.
Alternatively, you can cover the slip joint nuts with a rag before making use of the wrench or pliers, so as to protect the metal finish.
With your bucket in place, remove the trap after unscrewing the slip joint nuts. It can get messy at this point because of water which is usually accumulated at the “J” bend.
Sink Trap Cleaning: Step 5
After removing the trap, you will find an o-ring between the trap and the slip joint nut. Ensure you keep these properly as they are essential to sealing the reconnection.
Also take note of their arrangement: the slip joint nut goes first into the tailpiece and the o-ring, before the threaded end of the trap (similar to the side going through the wall).
You may have a rag stuffed into the pipe coming through the wall in order to stop the entry of any sewer gases into your home.
This also help prevent minor sewer spillage into the work area.
Sink Trap Cleaning: Step 7
Remove debris from the trap using a bottle brush or any other cleaning tool.
You can also softly clean the tailpiece from the sink, and a little into the pipe coming through the wall to remove any slime which may be present.
You may also want to rinse out the trap in another sink so as to remove any leftover residue or soap scum which may cause a subsequent clog.
After cleaning up all the parts, you can now start to reconstruct the trap.
Again following the installation order: the slip joint nut going first to the tailpiece and the o-ring, before going into the threaded end of the trap.
Sink Trap Cleaning: Step 9
Tighten the slip joint nuts with your hand. Once tight, use pliers or wrench to further tighten by a quarter turn.
Take heed not to cross thread or over tighten! Plastic traps, in particular, will crack once overly tightened.
Tips: You can make this job much easier by taking a look at our Add-a-Trap catcher.
With these products, you get built in clog-prevention features easy retrieval of lost items down the drain.
Some traps come with a cleanout plug situated at the base of the bend. In order to clean these, simply loosen the plug and make use of a stiff wire to catch and take out the clog.
Ensure your bucket is positioned under the drain as the base of the trap will certainly hold water.
It may be helpful to position a towel, or masking tape on the sink and/or faucet that will serve as a caution sign against using the sink while the job is going on.
We strongly advise against pouring unsafe products into your drain in a bid to clear up clogs, as these can be dangerous to your health and pipes, and the environment.
It is best to physically remove hair and other debris. Routine use of a safer product like Roebic K-67 can help stop slow drains and blockages.
Alas, there actually isn’t a substitute for physically taking out a hair clog.
Chemicals used for this purpose are usually ineffective, not to mention harmful, and most times result in physical removal anyway.
If there’s a lot of hair in your home drains, you should consider buying a mesh strainer of stainless steel material for your tub, shower or lavatory.
These provide a cheap, easy-to-clean method of keeping your drain free from hair clogs.
You can use the above steps to retrieve lost items down the drain, in addition to unclogging your sink.