How To Remove P Trap: 3 Step Guide (Do This!)

Plumbing codes require all fixtures connected to a drain to use P-traps to keep sewer gases out of the house. To do that, the U-bent pipe holds water to create a seal. However, the trap often holds more than that. Hair and debris can often plug the trap. Rogue objects may also end up inside – including that ring or bracelet you can’t find. Whether you have to clean the pipe or retrieve an item, removing the P-trap from the wall and sink tailpiece is essential. This guide will teach you how to do it.

How To Remove a P-Trap

Removing a P-trap from the sink tailpiece and the wall stub out shouldn’t be difficult if the trap is made of PVC. PVC fittings aren’t subject to corrosion, and you can generally unfasten them by hand. You may have to use a pair of pliers or a wrench to remove a metal P-trap, but the process is similar. 

Here are five quick steps for removing the P-trap under your sink:

1. Gather The Necessary Tools

  • Wrench
  • Bucket
  • Rubber gloves

2. Remove P-Trap From Sink Tailpiece

Most kitchen and bathroom sinks nowadays are fitted with PVC P-traps. This material comes with an advantage over metal: it doesn’t corrode, and it lasts longer. Because corrosion can’t get the coupling nuts stuck, these traps are also easy to remove.

The coupling (or compression) nuts connect each end of the trap assembly to the sink tailpiece and wall stub, respectively. When removing the P-trap from under the sink, you must unfasten and disconnect it from the tailpiece first. To do that:

  1. Turn off the water and empty the cabinet under the sink. While you don’t have to turn off the water supply to remove a plumbing trap, doing so can help you avoid accidents if someone is accidentally turning on the faucet while you’re working under the sink.
  2. Locate the P-trap under the sink and place a bucket under it. If your bathroom cabinet design doesn’t accommodate a bucket (because of fixed shelves), you can use a tray.
  3. Hold the trap with one hand and turn the coupling nut connecting it to the tailpiece with the other hand. You may have to apply some force and, if the nut is overtightened, you might even have to use a wrench to increase torque. Keep turning counterclockwise with respect to the tailpiece until the nut gives in.

Once you’ve loosened the nut, place the trap gently into the bucket or tray to prevent damaging the connection to the wall drain.

3. Remove P-Trap From Wall

To remove the P-trap from the wall stub, hold the trap assembly firm with one hand and turn the coupling nut counterclockwise with respect to the wall stub until it comes loose. If the nut is overtightened or old, you might have to use a wrench or a pair of pliers for the purpose. Once you loosen it, remove the trap from under the sink.

You can now clean the P-trap, retrieve any lost items, or replace the assembly with a new one if necessary.

How To Remove A P-Trap Without A Wrench

Using a wrench to unfasten the coupling nuts is generally recommended because almost all homeowners have an adjustable wrench in their toolkit. However, this isn’t the only tool you can use to turn stubborn nuts that won’t come loose.

A pair of pliers is an excellent alternative when you don’t have a wrench at hand. If the tailpiece nut is hard to reach, a pair of slip-joint pliers might even be the only adequate tool you can use.

How To Remove A P-Trap For Pedestal Sink

Removing a P-trap from a pedestal sink requires some planning and the right tools, even though you have to follow the same steps highlighted above. In most cases, you will have to remove the pedestal to access the trap.

To do that, remove the pedestal mounting screws with an electric drill/driver and a suitable screwdriver bit. Then, slide the pedestal across the floor carefully until you have enough room to access the pipe. You can now place the bucket under the trap and loosen the coupling nuts to remove it.

How To Remove A P-Trap Toilet

While most toilets are equipped with S-traps that drain directly through the floor, some toilet models use a P-trap instead. Because the trap is built inside the toilet bowl, there is no reason to remove it from the wall drain unless you’re trying to unclog the main drain pipe or want to replace the toilet. To do that:

  1. Turn off the water supply to the toilet and flush to empty it. Remove any water inside the toilet bowl with a bucket.
  2. Unhook the water supply hose from the water tank, then unfasten the compression nut connecting it to the toilet bowl. Lift the tank lid and set it aside, then remove the tank from the bowl.
  3. If your toilet is flush with the wall, remove the silicone caulking around the toilet with a utility knife, then slide the toilet across the floor until you can access the drainpipe behind it. Turn the compression nut counterclockwise in respect to the wall stub to unfasten it. Once it becomes loose, you can remove the toilet.

How To Loosen PVC P-Trap That Is Stuck?

PVC P-traps are generally more resistant than metal ones, but wrenches or pliers could damage them. Even if the PVC couplings are stuck, you should still be able to loosen them by hand:

  • Wrap a rag around the compression nut.
  • Turn the nut counterclockwise. Keep applying torque until it becomes loose.
  • If you don’t have a rag, you can increase grip by wearing rubber gloves.

Why Remove a P Trap?

There are three main reasons to remove a P-trap:

  • To replace it: Plumbing traps are resistant, but you could damage them if you’re not careful. For instance, clutter under the sink could break them. Metal traps may also rust and start leaking.
  • To clean it: While the U-bend portion of the trap creates the water seal needed to keep sewer gases out of your house, it can also gather gunk. Clogged P-traps are easy to clean, but you might have to remove them if the clogs are particularly stubborn.
  • To retrieve items: The trap assembly can catch and hold rogue items you washed down the drain accidentally, including jewelry and small toys.

Related Questions

How do you remove a glued P-Trap?

To remove a glued PVC P-trap, you have to cut it off the tailpiece and drain pipe:

  • Measure about three inches from where the drain pipes (tailpiece and wall drain pipe) join to the P-trap. Mark the spot on each drain pipe.
  • Cut through the drain pipes at both marks with a hacksaw. You should try to keep the cut perpendicular.
  • Remove the trap and sand off all plastic burrs from the ends of each drain pipe to prepare them for the new P-trap installation.

How do you loosen a metal P-Trap?

Removing a metal P-trap that is rusted or corroded is often challenging but not impossible. For an easy removal:

  • Spray some penetrating oil on the joints between the trap and the tailpiece and wall drain.
  • Hold the trap firm with one hand and grab the metal coupling nut with a wrench or a pair of pliers.
  • Turn counterclockwise until the nut loosens up. This step might require some elbow grease, but you have to apply torque until the nut gives in.

To End

Removing a P-trap from under your sink is very easy. More often than not, you’ll be able to unfasten the PVC nuts by hand. An adjustable wrench or a pair of pliers could help you if the nut is truly stuck. We hope this guide can help you complete the task, but don’t hesitate to hire a plumber if you’re in doubt.

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