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Everything I see mentions P-traps. I seem to have instead an S-trap. What are the downsides of this, and is it something that should be fixed?

S-trap

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    I have an S-trap under my kitchen sink and really don't experience problems from siphoning because of it. I generally wouldn't bother with it unless you are having immediate plumbing problems or you are remodeling. – maple_shaft Nov 13 '12 at 11:58
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    Unrelated, you might want to pin that dishwasher hose up as high as you can within the cabinet space, trim any excess of the hose so that there are no dips or loops. This is recommend by almost all dishwasher manufactures. – pdd Nov 16 '12 at 18:00
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You have an "S" trap because the drain exits through the floor and is probably unvented.

A "P" trap is for a drain in the wall that is teed for a vent stack.

The major disadvantage comes because "S" traps are usually used in locations where they are either not vented or poorly vented on the outflow side and so can siphon off the water in the trap, leading to sewer gas backing up into the building.

For a short term fix, after using any quantity of water, pulling the plug in the sink will empty it vigorously and pull enough water out of the trap to break the water seal, run a pint out of the tap afterwards to make sure there's a water seal.

For long term repair, you would have to install a tee on the drain, run the output from the P trap into one leg and a vent to who knows where from the other side. Plumber consultation recommended before you end up with one of those plumber's nightmare constructions.

It is illegal in most localities to have S traps in new construction because of the siphoning.

  • Great answer... but judging from the signs of water damage from a long time ago, and the drain pipe connector I would say that this building is far from new construction and perfectly acceptable for the time period. – maple_shaft Nov 13 '12 at 11:56
  • Hence the "new "construction" sentence at the end. I'll bold it. For established construction that didn't come under code violation at the time of construction, it's a case of fix it if you easily can or be aware and make sure you fill the trap after emptying large quantities of water. – Fiasco Labs Nov 13 '12 at 16:58
  • So bottom line, if it's a problem - and it can be a problem - you can workaround it by running some slow water to ensure the trap is filled, and you can fix it by replacing it with a properly vented P-trap or a mechanical vent. But if it's not a problem, don't worry about it. – Jeremy W. Sherman Nov 14 '12 at 7:14
  • Yep, pretty much. – Fiasco Labs Nov 14 '12 at 7:53
  • I've sometimes seen piping arrangements below sinks that look like they're designed to be siphon-resistant, but I don't recall seeing such things for sale even for purposes of retrofitting existing S-traps. Is there some problem with such things? – supercat Oct 17 '14 at 2:01
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This is incorrect. S-traps are now against plumbing code. A p-trap can be used weather the drain line comes from the floor or the wall. The issue with S-Traps is 9k n rare occasions when a bunch of water goes down the drain it can pull all the water down the drain emptying the trap which would allow sewer gases to come out from the pipe which is toxic and flammable. Simply use a tee wye with a automatic air vent and a p-trap. Done deal.

  • Are you saying that they're a "must replace" item when found in existing construction, then? Because that's not the norm when Codes are changed...also, this answer would be much stronger if you could point to a Code citation (IRC, most likely) regarding this... – ThreePhaseEel Aug 31 at 4:34

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