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Opening a Sink Trap

Everyone knows you shouldn't stand over a bathroom sink to put on earrings or take out your contact lenses, right? Wrong!!

Here are some suggestions for the next time you hear "OH NO" from the bathroom. If the water is not running or is turned off immediately, the object is probably still in the sink trap. The trap is that U-shaped section of drain pipe under a sink.

If you are really lucky the trap may have a cleanout plug on the bottom. Unfortunately, most do not which makes for messy work. However, any reasonably handy person can disassemble a sink trap.

Start by placing a shallow dishpan under the trap and loosen the nuts on both ends of the curved trap with a wrench. Then pull down on the trap, if it comes off, it's what's called a swivel trap. If it won't come loose, then you have a fixed trap, and you may have to unscrew the drain tailpiece, a piece of straight pipe that goes between the top of the trap and the bottom of the sink.

Once the tailpiece is unscrewed, push it down inside the trap, and then you can unscrew the trap from the drain pipe that protrudes from the wall.

Hopefully, the object that has caused you all this mess is now in the dishpan. And remember contact lenses sometimes stick to the inside of the drain. You may have to turn the water on and hope the contact lense flushes out of the drain pipe into your dishpan.

Don't be shortsighted, take the old trap with you and go buy a new one. At the very least, buy a new set of trap washers. Trying to use the old trap washers almost guarantees a leak.

Wrap all the threads with Teflon sealing tape before re-assembling the trap.

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