Dismantling a Trap

Dismantling a Trap

A trap seals out gases and provides a bottleneck that prevents clogs from traveling farther down the line. That's why most clogs are found in a trap bend.

To clear a clog dismantle the trap and clean it out. You'll probably need to replace some rubber washers as they get brittle with age. It's not unusual to find that the entire trap needs replacing. If even one component is leaky, replace the entire trap rather than a single piece -- one worn component is likely to mean wear in others. Less expensive chrome-plated traps are notoriously short-lived. They may look OK on the outside but squeeze the bottom of the bend with your fingers to check the trap. If you feel it give, even slightly, the metal is corroded. For durability buy a plastic trap or a chrome-plated trap that is made of heavy-gauge brass.

Bathroom traps are 1-1/4 inches in diameter; kitchen traps are 1-1/2 inches.

Checklist

Time
About an hour to dismantle and reinstall a trap

Tools
Groove-joint pliers, toothbrush, hacksaw, sandpaper

Skills
Dismantling and connecting parts with washers and nuts

Prep
Prepare a comfortable work site; have a bucket or dishpan and a drop cloth in place

Materials
Washers, pipe tape, perhaps a new trap

Step 1

Place a bucket under the trap. Loosen the nut on each side of the curved piece with groove-joint pliers. Slide the nuts out of the way and pull the curved piece off.

Step 2

Use a toothbrush to remove hair and other debris that has collected in the trap. If the trap is in good shape, replace the washers and reassemble it. If any parts are damaged, install a new trap (Steps 3-5).

Step 3

Take the old parts to a home center or hardware store to find replacements. Make sure the new pieces will fit exactly; you may need to cut the tailpiece or drain elbow. Begin assembly by wrapping pipe tape clockwise around the threads of a tailpiece, then screw the tailpiece onto the drain body.

Step 4

With the tailpiece installed dry-fit all the pieces to make sure they join with ease. If you have to force a connection, it may leak. For each joint slide on the nut, then the washer.

Step 5

Assemble the pieces and hand-tighten all the nuts. Then go back and tighten the nuts with groove-joint pliers. To test the drain for leaks, stop up the sink, fill it with water, and open the stopper. Watch carefully for any leaks as the water flows through. Tighten joints where necessary.


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