p-trap with hand gripping it

What Is a P-Trap?

Most, if not all of us, have peeked under our sink only to find some funky-looking pipes. You might’ve wondered “why can’t it be a simple design, why does it have to bend like that”? (Ok maybe you might not have wondered that).

But chances are this is what you saw under your sink.


P-Trap - Total Restore Pro


Let’s go a little deeper down the drain.

Best thing since sliced bread

Installed under bathroom/kitchen sinks, this unique design actually has a name, it’s called a p-trap. On one end, it connects to the drain, and on the other end, it connects to the line going out to the sewer. You will find most of these traps to be manufactured from PVC pipe or steel. One of the best aspects of p-traps is that they are inexpensive and relatively easy to install (for all you DIYers).

So why is this such a great invention you must ask?

Whoever smelt it, dealt it

Aside from draining water from your sink, p-traps serve two distinct purposes, the first being a smell barrier. Life before p-traps was probably…. mysteriously stinky.

Purposely shaped like the round end of a “P”, the p-trap stops sewer gas from escaping and leaking into your home. It does this by retaining a little amount of water where the pipe curves, which creates a barrier between the sewer and your home. At best, the escaped gas is just smelly, but at worst, the gas can be explosive and harmful.


Image result for p-trap graphic


Infrequently used sinks, or ones in dry climates, might begin to smell as the water that acts as a barrier will begin to evaporate. Once that barrier has been compromised, sewer gasses begin to leak into the home spread as they please.


P-trap with no water


Wait, there’s more?

The second alternative function of a P-trap is the fact that it helps prevent clogs deep in the drain, which can easily drain your bank account (no pun intended). By trapping debris flowing through the sink, it allows for the clog to be in a place that is easily accessible and removable. This means clogs are easier to deal with and probably won’t require professional help.


Who would’ve thought such a little difference in the design of the pipes could be so great? Because the trap is shaped like a p, it prevents clogs from occurring deep in the plumbing system and acts as a smell barrier.

This little design, often unnoticed, gives so much utility to homeowners without us even realizing it.

What do you think is the best function of the p-trap? Is it the smell barrier? Or do you think it’s the fact that clogs don’t form deep down the pipes?

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