All of the sinks in your home should have traps. In fact, your home has many other traps below toilets and other fixtures. Traps prevent sewer gases from getting up into your home so that it remains fresh and safe. Due to their design, traps may also collect clogs, but they’re conveniently close to the start of the drainpipe, so it’s simple to clean out those clogs. Plus, traps tend to catch lost jewelry or other small objects that are accidentally dropped down the drain.
While traps are essential, they aren’t all made the same. We’re advanced our trap design to make more consistent safer traps. In fact, a once quite common trap, an S-trap, is no longer allowed by most building codes. Yet, you may find one in your home, and it may be the cause of some of your plumbing issues. Here’s what you need to know about S-traps.
What are S-Traps?
S-traps look like the letter “S” on its side. It consists of two bends back-to-back, and it does not have a vent.This is critical because, without a vent, the S-trap eventually fails. You can still buy S-traps in stores, because they have some legitimate uses, but they aren’t suitable for beneath your sink. If you currently have an S-trap, it may have been installed before the building codes outlawed them.
What’s Wrong with S-Traps?
S-traps are known for siphoning water out of the trap. All traps are supposed to have water in the low point, which sewer gasses cannot pass through. However, when you run waterin an S-trap, the momentum of the stream may draw all of the water out of the trap. This breaks the seal and allows sewer gases to escape up into your bathroom.
This empty trap can be a health hazard. Leaking sewer gases may affect your health if inhaled and may create an explosion if they are flammable and exposed to a spark.Depending on the severity of the gas, they may not affect your health, but they will certainly make your bathroom smell.
For the short term, you can run the tap very slowly, and it may fill with enough water to seal off. However, the long-term solution is to have your plumber replace the trap and bring your home up to building code standards.
What’s an Alternative to an S-Trap?
There are many other types of traps that your plumber may use to replace your S-trap. For homes, the usual remedy is a P trap. It looks like a “P” on its side, with a deep drop that contains a lot more water than an S-trap could. It is vented, right at the bend and therefore avoids the siphoning problem. With the introduction of a bit of air, the water no longer siphons out to the drain.
Your plumber may need to make some larger changes to the bathroom in order to accommodate the new trap. As P-traps are vented, they need a vent stack, or to connect with one, to allow outside air down into the trap.