It's probably inevitable that your child's toothbrush would someday fall into the sink drain, joining the various Lego pieces and deflated water balloons that have blazed a path to a possible watery escape through your sewer system.
While small toys and empty balloons may not have presented a problem with promoting a drain clog, a toothbrush, even a pint-sized model, will likely gather hair, soap scum, and other binding agents to form a formidable clog in your drain.
Fortunately, in part because of the shape of the toothbrush, but mostly because of the ingenious design of the sink trap below your sink, you can remove the toothbrush before it causes a clog large enough to present a serious problem.
What is a sink trap and how does it work?
The sink trap acts as a buffer between your sink drain and the main drain line in your home. Without the addition of a sink trap, objects that fall into the sink drain would likely drop far into a more inaccessible section of the drain line to form a clog.
Removing a clog from deep inside your drain line requires the use of a drain "snake," which is a long thin cable that is inserted into the drain line to snag a clogging agent with its pointed auger tip. The snake cable is then withdrawn, hopefully with the clogging agent attached, but definitely covered in raw sewage, which is vile in both smell and its capacity to adhere to everything it touches.
A sink trap is shaped liked the letter "J," so anything that is dropped into the drain will be stopped by standing water that is trapped in the bottom of the sink trap because of its curved design. The standing water also serves to block sewer gases from entering your home through your drain line.
Removing that toothbrush
The only tools and supplies you'll need to remove and clean your sink trap will be an adjustable wrench, a roll of Teflon tape, and a pail or bucket into which you will place the sink trap for cleaning. Unfortunately, although you may have dodged the raw sewage farther along the drain line, the standing water and sludge in the sink trap are only a small step above the sewage in smell and texture.
To remove the sink trap, simply loosen the two large nuts at the top and bottom of the trap. When loosening the second nut, hold the trap upright to avoid spilling any of its malodorous contents.
After the trap is placed inside the pail or bucket, you will likely be able to see and removed the toothbrush with ease. However, you should clean out the trap completely before replacing it. Dumping the putrid water is easy, but the inner surface of the trap is likely to be covered with a thick sludge of accumulated filth. A bottle brush would be ideal for cleaning out the trap because of its shape, but you could probably do the job with an outdoor hose and pressure nozzle.
Before reconnecting the cleaned trap, wrap a few layers of Teflon tape in a clockwise direction around the threads on the bottom connection of the trap to prevent leaks. When this is done, slip the top portion of the trap over the pipe that descends from your sink drain, then turn the trap until the bottom connection is aligned with the pipe that leads into the drain line. Tighten the threaded nut for the bottom connection first, then the top compression nut.
You might consider installing a drain strainer that fits over your sink drain as a first line of defense against dropped objects. A "mushroom"-shaped strainer, which fits snugly into the drain cup, is preferable to a simple flat, round screen type of strainer, which is easily moved or jostled and rendered useless by busy little hands. Click here to learn more about drain cleaning.Share
14 June 2017
When you get a clogged drain or a toilet that just won't flush, do you reach for the phone and call for a plumber? When you have these seemingly simple plumbing problems around your house, you have to make a decision quickly. Do you pay for someone to come out and make the repairs, or do you attempt the repair on your own? This blog is all about DIY plumbing repairs. You will learn the basics and find tips for when to cut your losses and call in for professional assistance so you don't make a small fix one that needs serious repairs.