Drum trap

Older Bathroom With A Drum Trap? (Here’s How To Clear It!)

Many older bathrooms have a removable metal cap on the floor which covers a drum trap. It’s usually located near the tub. Just like any trap in your home, it can get clogged and needs to be cleared. Here’s how.

What is a Drum Trap?

Drum traps allow wastewater to flow out of our fixture into your sewer line while preventing sewer gas from getting into your home. Their primary purpose was to keep large, heavy debris from getting stuck in your plumbing. They were common for many years and can still be found in older homes.

However, drum traps are no longer accepted by plumbing codes. Also, they’re not self-cleaning. They hold so much water that water and waste are difficult to flow through. This creates more than usual clogging with waste and debris remaining on the bottom of the trap.

Once a blockage has been cleared, we strongly recommend you replace your existing drum trap with a P-trap.

drain trap vs p-trap diagram
This diagram illustrates the difference between a drum trap and a P-trap. They perform the same function. However, the drum trap is now illegal and clogs easily. It also tends to trap debris at the bottom of the cylinder.

How to Clear a Drum Trap

You’re not going to believe how easy this 2-step drum trap plumbing process is. All you need is about 1 hour, some basic plumbing skills, and these tools:

  • Plunger
  • Auger
  • Hammer and cold chisel (or screwdriver)
  • Bucket
  • Rags

1. Open Drum Trap

  • Begin by bailing out the tub of any water and remove any remaining water with rags or large spongs.
  • Remove the drum trap cap with an adjustable wrench. Once removed, you have access to the drum trap blockage.
  • You might have difficulty removing the cap. If a wrench doesn’t do the trick, use a hammer and cold chisel (or screwdriver). Damage the cap if necessary; they’re cheap and easy to replace. But do NOT mar the threads on the trap.
drum trap - bathroom floor access
A drum trap’s cap can be difficult to remove. Notice here all of the grime and buildup that make cap removal difficult. If you can’t open it easily, use a hammer and cold chisel to open it. Don’t worry about breaking it because they are cheap and easy to replace.

2. Unclog Drum Trap

  • Open the trap slowly, watching for water to well up around the threads.
  • Take your manual or power auger and place it into the drum trap.
  • If the trap is full, work the auger away from the tub toward the main drain.
  • If the trap is only partially full, the obstruction is between the tub and the trap
  • Auger back and forth.
How to use a plumber's snake - Drainsoon Drain Auger 25 Foot
You will need to place the auger in your drain trap to clear out any blockages and debris. Wear gloves; you’ll thank us later!

Final Thoughts

If you have experience opening difficult drain caps and augering your drains, then this project will be a piece of cake. What isn’t a piece of cake is replacing your drum trap with an up-to-code P-trap. You might want to call your local plumber to handle that project.

Call 1-Tom-Plumber

Don’t hesitate to contact us here or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237) if you need help replacing or cleaning out your drain trap.

1-Tom-Plumber’s certified team of plumbers and drain technicians respond immediately to any emergency plumbing, drain cleaning, or water damage problem. We also handle the excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines. Our immediate-response team is available every day and night of the year, even on holidays.

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