How to Clean Out Your Sink Trap

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Are you struggling with a clogged sink? If you’re lucky, you can resolve the problem by using a plunger or  using a plumbing snake to clear the drain, but a tougher clog might require you to remove the trap in the pipes. Fortunately, this is a relatively simple task that you can probably take on yourself. It’s also a valuable skill to have in case you accidentally wash something valuable, like a wedding ring, down the sink. When in doubt, call in a professional.

The Right Tools for the Job

Before you put wrench to pipe, try sending hot water down the drain and using a plunger to dislodge the blockage. If both the plunger and the snake fail to get the job done, it’s time to get an up-close look at the pipes under the sink.

First, gather your tools. You’ll want a bucket to catch spilled water, a wrench or channel lock pliers to get the pipes apart and a brush to clean out the clog. The trap is easy to find – just look directly under the sink for the pipe that’s bent into a “J” shape.

Set the bucket underneath the trap to catch any water or debris. Next, use the wrench or pliers to unscrew the joints on each side of the trap and remove it from the other pipes, letting the water drain into the bucket. Keep an eye out for the o-rings that should be sitting between the trap and the other pipes.

Clear Out the Gunk

Now that you’ve removed the trap, you can use a brush to remove the hair, soap scum and other debris that may be clogging the pipe. It’s also a good opportunity to clean it out with the hose to remove any lingering goo or biofilm.

Once the trap is clean, all that’s left to do is put it back together exactly the way it was – minus the clog, of course. Don’t forget to reinsert the o-rings between the pipe fittings before you screw them back together. Tighten up the joints until they are firm, but be careful not to twist too tightly or you could damage them. This is especially important if you have plastic pipes.

Finish the Job

When the trap is back in place, run some water down the drain to refill it and check for any leaks. If it’s dry, clean up any mess and you’re done.

If something does go wrong, however, don’t hesitate to call up an expert to come put everything back together. It’s better to admit defeat and ask for help than risk creating an even larger problem.

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