Term & definition explained by Oakland CA plumbers: Drain trap
Also known as a U-bend, this curved section of piping beneath sinks and other drains is designed to constantly hold water. This fluid prevents sewer gases and odors from traveling backwards through the faucet and into your home. Drain traps may, however, allow debris and obstructions to accumulate and form clogs.
Oakland plumbers answer a question: Why can’t I simply pour clog removal chemicals down the drain every now and then?
While there are some environmentally friendly formulas, most clog-removing fluids are extremely bad for the planet and the water supply. In addition, the harsh caustics they include may actually corrode some pipes from the inside, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll completely eliminate the debris and other substances blocking the drain. In most cases, it’s far better to do a little manual labor than to work with these dangerous chemicals.
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Water doesn’t flow down your sink drain as readily as it used to. While it may be tempting to simply head down to the hardware store and pick up a bottle of caustic fluid, there are much better ways to deal with clogs, especially ones that seem to occur periodically. Here are some simple remedies that may make it easier to maintain your Oakland plumbing.
Some piping is far more susceptible to blockages; checking these spots first may save you a lot of trouble in the long run. For instance, the drain trap beneath your bathroom vanity basin can easily become clogged with hair from razors or combs, and if your kids drop something down the sink, it’s most likely going to end up in this curved stretch of piping.
Fortunately, sink traps are easy to access and clean out. You can usually reach them by opening the cabinet beneath your sink or looking behind the basin if it’s mounted on an open-pedestal vanity.
Wait until as much water has drained as possible and then place a bucket beneath the trap to catch any liquid left inside the piping. Next, loosen the two slip nuts at either end of the bend with a pair of pliers or a plumber’s wrench.
The plumbers at Berkeley Plumbing and Heating of Oakland CA can assist with any questions regarding radiant heating or boiler repairs.
Unscrew the nuts the rest of the way by hand before pulling the trap section straight off of the piping.
From here, you can usually dump the hair and clogged debris out into the bucket, but you may need to use a wire brush to clean the inside of the trap or push clumps of hair out with the end of a pencil. After clearing the obstructions completely, rinse the pipe trap with hot water in a different sink and reattach it. At this point, you can also replace the nuts if they look particularly worn.
What happens when your bathtub drain gets clogged? These pipes are much harder to access because they’re often behind walls or under flooring, so you may need to call a plumber. While snakes and other tools are commonly used to remove sink obstructions, they should never be used in toilets because they can easily become stuck. When improperly used, augers and snakes may also damage piping, although this is relatively uncommon.
Finally, remember that drain-clearing products bear a number of serious disadvantages. Chemical drain openers have a hard time removing drain clogs that are far away from the drain opening, and while they dissolve hair with some efficacy, they’re not very good at removing solids. Many drain cleaners are also hazardous to the eyes, mouth, skin and lungs, and they can irreparably damage clothing and building materials, making them some of the most dangerous chemicals available to consumers.