What is a Plumbing Trap?

If you’ve ever looked down under your kitchen or bathroom sink, you may have noticed the pipe bent in an unusual shape. This bent pipe made of PVC plastic or metal is known as a plumbing trap. An important component of the drainage system, a plumbing trap is commonly used in plumbing applications that enables the elimination of waste materials.

The plumbing trap also facilitates the retention of water that blocks the foul-smelling sewer gases rising from the drain, insects and germs and prevents them from entering your home.

The plumbing trap is commonly called a P-trap also because the bend and the long extension of the pipe, which goes into the wall, resembles the letter ‘P’. Usually, in a domestic application, plumbing traps are U, J, S and Q-shaped pipes that are located within or below a plumbing fixture.

Types of Plumbing Traps

  • P-Traps: P-traps are the most commonly used plumbing traps that are used under bathroom and kitchen sinks. They are usually used for outlets through the wall and are considered to be the safest type of plumbing traps.
  • S-Traps: These are mostly used for toilets, where the outlet is through the floor. S-traps are prone to drying up easily even if they are well vented and so they don’t prevent the foul gases from entering the home. In recent times, S-traps have been banned in several new constructions in the U.S.

Benefits of Plumbing Traps

Plumbing traps or P-traps offer several benefits, such as:

Trapping Debris and Preventing Clogging

The plumbing trap helps to trap dirt and debris and also prevent clogs. When you’re cleaning your bathroom, if you notice that the drain is very slow, it could mean that the P-trap has collected a lot of debris and has become clogged.

The P-trap usually features a cleanout that helps to clear out the debris such as food, hair, waste, etc. that has been contained by the P-trap to prevent your plumbing system from getting clogged. You can easily clear the P-trap clog by using a plunger.

Eliminating Foul-Smelling Sewer Gases

The plumbing trap helps to prevent foul-smelling sewer gases from the drain pipes from getting into your home. The sewer gases include methane, sulfur oxides, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, nitrogen oxide and other toxic gases, which are not only unpleasant but can be toxic to health.

Prolonged exposure to these sewer gases can cause health issues such as headaches, loss of appetite, irritability, fatigue, bronchitis, sinus infections, lightheadedness, memory problems and pneumonia. So, if you notice a rotten egg smell coming from your bathroom or kitchen sink, then it means that your plumbing trap is not working properly and needs looking into.

Protects Against Property Loss

While this may not be a common occurrence, plumbing traps may offer an additional advantage of being able to catch your jewelry or small valuables such as your wedding ring, diamond earring or other valuables that may have accidentally fallen into the sink drain.

In conclusion, P-traps or plumbing traps are essential components of any plumbing system and can help to keep the kitchen and bathroom sinks clean and odorless.

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