How To Snake A P-Trap – A Step-By-Step Guide

Is your sink draining slowly or not at all?

It’s possible that you have a clog in your P-trap, the curved pipe section under your sink that connects to the larger drainpipe system.

Don’t worry, snaking a P-trap is a simple process that you can do yourself with the right tools and techniques.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps of snaking a P-trap to clear out any blockages and get your sink back to its normal functioning.

So, let’s dive in and learn how to snake a P-trap!

How To Snake A P-trap

Step 1: Remove the P-trap

The first step in snaking a P-trap is to remove it from under your sink. Most P-traps are made of PVC and have quick connections that can be unscrewed by hand or with an adjustable wrench.

Removing the P-trap will make it easier to access the drain pipe and insert the plumbing snake. It’s important to check inside the P-trap first to see if the clog is present there before snaking your piping.

Step 2: Thread the head into your piping

Once you have removed the P-trap, pull out a couple of inches of the snake and manually insert the head into your pipe without forcing it into the drain.

Slowly uncoil the metal line so that the handle of the plumbing snake is as close to the entrance of the pipe as possible. Continue uncoiling the metal line in a slow and consistent manner until you feel pressure on the cable, indicating that you have encountered an obstruction.

Step 3: Breaking up the obstruction

When you encounter an obstruction, start moving the plumbing snake head back and forth and up and down. The goal is to slowly break up the obstruction into smaller pieces that can move down your drain pipe.

Avoid jamming the drain snake into the walls of your piping, as this can cause damage. If you feel like your plumbing snake head won’t move at all, pull it back out and try again.

Step 4: Re-assemble your drain

Once you have cleared out the obstruction from your piping, remove your plumbing snake and rinse it off with water to remove any debris. Then, re-install your P-trap and turn on your water fixture to test that it’s draining properly.

Make sure to let the water run for a few minutes so that if there is still a clog present, you’ll be alerted when the water fills up the entire pipe to where your sink drain is.

Understanding The P-trap And Common Causes Of Clogs

The P-trap is an essential component of your plumbing system that prevents sewer gases from entering your home or building. It is a curved piece of piping that connects the sink to your larger drainpipe system. The trap works by trapping a small amount of water that creates a seal to block the gases from entering.

One of the most common causes of clogs in the P-trap is the accumulation of debris in the bend. Over time, things like hair, food, grease, and mineral deposits build up and reduce the diameter of the drain pipe. Eventually, the drain will clog up and have to be thoroughly cleaned out.

Another potential problem with P-traps is that they can eventually vent sewer gases into a living area. This usually occurs because the water in the trap evaporates over the course of several weeks and isn’t around to capture expanding gases. Fortunately, this problem can be easily remedied by periodically running water through drains that are seldom used.

P-traps can also dry up due to evaporation, a leak, a clog absorbing the water, or even dry winds entering your home’s pipes. When the water evaporates, you’ll quickly smell the horrible sewer gases. The best way to prevent water from drying up in P-traps is to run water down every drain in your home at least once every three weeks.

If you frequently encounter clogged drain pipes, it may be time to consider having your drains professionally cleaned as the best long-term solution. A professional plumber can help you identify any underlying issues and recommend the best course of action to keep your plumbing system functioning properly.

Gathering The Necessary Tools And Materials

Before you begin snaking your P-trap, it’s important to gather all the necessary tools and materials. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

1. Plumbing snake – This is the most important tool you’ll need to snake your P-trap. Make sure to choose a snake that is long enough to reach the clog in your piping. A manual drain snake with a flexible, 25-foot long steel cable is usually sufficient for most clogs.

2. Bucket – You’ll need a bucket to catch any water and debris that may come out of your drain when you remove the P-trap.

3. Slip joint pliers or adjustable wrench – You may need these tools to unscrew the connections on your P-trap.

4. Rags – Keep some rags handy to clean up any spills or drips that may occur during the process.

5. Safety glasses – Protect your eyes from any debris that may fly out of the drain while snaking your P-trap.

6. Shop vacuum – If there’s a lot of water or debris in your drain, you may need a shop vacuum to clean it out before snaking your P-trap.

7. Cold chisel and hammer – If the nut on your P-trap is stuck, you may need a cold chisel and hammer to loosen it.

8. Allen wrench – Some P-traps have a cleanout plug that can be removed with an Allen wrench. Check your P-trap to see if this applies.

By gathering all the necessary tools and materials before you begin, you’ll save time and be better prepared for any unexpected challenges that may arise during the process.

Preparing For The Snaking Process

Before you begin snaking your P-trap, it is important to prepare your workspace and gather the necessary tools.

First, make sure you have a 25-foot hand snake, which can be purchased at any local hardware store for anywhere between $16 and $60. You will also need adjustable pliers, a bowl that fits beneath the piping under your sink, rags, work gloves, protective glasses, and Teflon tape.

Next, clear out any items from under your sink and lay down some rags to catch any water or debris that may come out during the snaking process. Put on your work gloves and protective glasses to protect your hands and eyes from any sharp or dirty objects.

If you are removing the P-trap, use the adjustable pliers to loosen the connections and carefully remove it from under your sink. Inspect the P-trap for any visible clogs or debris and clean it out if necessary.

Once you have removed the P-trap, make sure to leave enough space for you to insert the plumbing snake into the drain pipe. Slowly feed the cable into the drain as far as it will go until you feel resistance. This means you’ve either successfully hit the clog or reached a bend in the plumbing.

Remember to take your time and be patient with the snaking process, as each pipe is unique and may require different techniques for clearing out a clog. With these preparations in place, you’ll be ready to successfully snake your P-trap and get your sink draining properly again.

Troubleshooting Tips For Stubborn Clogs

Sometimes, even after snaking your P-trap, the clog may still persist. Here are some troubleshooting tips to help you deal with stubborn clogs:

1. Use a plunger: A plunger is a great tool for removing clogs from your drain. It creates suction that can help dislodge the obstruction. Make sure to use a plunger that is designed for sinks and not toilets.

2. Use a drain cleaner: If the clog is still present, you can try using a commercial drain cleaner. However, be aware that these chemicals can be harmful to your plumbing and should only be used as a last resort.

3. Check the cleanout: If you have a cleanout installed in your plumbing system, check it to see if it’s clogged. If it is, use a plumbing snake to clear it out.

4. Check for other obstructions: Sometimes, the clog may not be in your P-trap but further down the drain pipe. Use a plumbing snake to check for obstructions further down the line.

5. Call a professional plumber: If none of the above methods work, it’s time to call in a professional plumber. They have the tools and expertise to deal with even the most stubborn clogs and can help prevent any damage to your plumbing system.

Maintaining Your P-trap To Prevent Future Clogs

In addition to snaking your P-trap to clear out current clogs, it’s important to take steps to prevent future clogs from forming. One way to do this is by regularly maintaining your P-trap.

The P-trap is an essential component of your plumbing system, as it prevents sewer gases from escaping into your home. To keep it functioning properly, it’s important to keep it clean and clear of debris.

One way to maintain your P-trap is by running hot water through all drains regularly. This helps to clear away scum and build-up that can accumulate in the P-trap over time. For infrequently used drains, it’s recommended to run or pour hot water on a weekly basis.

Another way to prevent future clogs is by avoiding flushing non-water soluble materials down the sink. This includes items such as fats, oils, and grease, as well as hair and other debris.

Regular cleaning of your P-trap is also important for preventing future clogs. Use only natural materials such as hot water and vinegar to remove debris and grease from the sink, strainer, and P-trap. Avoid using chemical-based drain cleaners unless you know what you are doing.

Finally, consider installing a mesh trap in your shower and sinks to trap hairs and undissolved pieces of soap. A flint catcher may be an extra expense, but it is a lot cheaper than what it will cost to unclog the main drain pipe.

By following these maintenance tips, you can help prevent future clogs in your P-trap and keep your plumbing system functioning properly.