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What are Drum Traps?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2016
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A drum trap is an older component that was once commonly used in plumbing systems. Essentially, drum traps are devices that help to prevent larger and heavier items from entering the drain and lodging in the plumbing itself. Over the years, a similar device known as a plumbing trap, or P-trap, has largely replaced the older drum trap, although there are still some situations where the older design is still a good option.

In design, drum traps bear a striking resemblance to a small version of a steel drum. The unique construction of these traps makes them ideal for installation when the fixtures are close to the floor. An rather wide access cap is located at the top of the device, while an inlet at the base connects with the pipe system. When installed, the access cap is the only portion of the trap that is likely to be visible.

Drum traps actually perform two important functions. First, the traps prevent large objects from making their way into the water pipes and creating obstructions. In the event that some object does work into the trap itself, it is a simple matter to open the access cap and remove it. For many years, drum traps were standard equipment on bathtubs, lavatory sinks, and kitchen sinks.

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A second function of drum traps is to prevent gas from seeping into the home. The design of the traps causes the body of devices to fill with water from the inlet located at the point where the traps connect with water pipes. The presence of the water creates an effective barrier that blocks fumes from entering the home via the plumbing, thus minimizing health risks to the inhabitants of the home.

Clearing clogs or other obstructions from drum traps is a relatively simple process. By opening the access cap, it is possible to use a standard pipe cleaner or some other form of snaking tool and remove collections of hair or any objects that may have made their way into the traps. While P-traps are routinely installed today, there is no real need to replace drum traps as long as they are working properly.

In some instances, homeowners may actually refer the use of drum traps to the newer P-traps. This can be true when the restoration of an older home is undertaken, and there is a desire to be as true to the period when the home was constructed as possible. Some simply like the way that the traps work so well in cramped spaces, especially when the plumbing is close to the floor. While not as widely available as in decades past, it is still possible to purchase new drum traps for use in repairing older systems, as well as part of the construction of new systems.

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