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Unlocking the secrets of water seals: A comprehensive guide

Water seals, a timeless innovation with roots reaching back 250 years, have silently safeguarded our living spaces. Evolving in design but unwavering in purpose, these inconspicuous devices beneath our basins, baths, toilets, and showers play a crucial role. In this exploration, we delve into the intricacies of their functionality, unravel the significance they hold, and explore the diverse traps available in today’s market.

Decoding the odour trap

Installed strategically between drains and sewerage systems, odour traps serve as guardians, preventing unpleasant odours from infiltrating homes. Beyond the nuisance of foul smells, these traps shield inhabitants from harmful sewer gases containing hydrogen sulphate. Exposure to such gases over time can lead to various health issues. Plumbing traps emerge as unsung heroes, contributing significantly to the health and safety of a building’s occupants.

Odour Trap Installed Under a Basin

Odour trap installed under a basin

The mechanism behind water seals

True to their name, traps create a water containment zone between the drain and sewerage pipe, typically in a u-shaped bend. The water within this bend acts as a barrier, obstructing air movement through the pipe. This simple yet effective mechanism traps air within the pipe, forming a seal that separates foul sewerage pipe air from the air within the home. Without this water seal, homes would be engulfed in a perpetual sewerage odour. Each time a tap is opened, water flows through the drain and trap. When the tap closes, a small amount of water remains, ensuring a continuous barrier.

Water seal diagram

Determining the depths of water seals

The minimum depth requirement for a water seal varies based on the plumbing system employed in a building. Distinctions arise from the ventilation methods regulating air pressure within the system. South African National Standards (SANS) stipulate a 65mm minimum depth for one-pipe systems and 40mm for two-pipe systems. For single-stack and single-stack partially ventilated plumbing systems, the requirement is 75mm. Compliance with these standards is essential for all drains in South Africa.

Wet floor drain

Preventing evaporation and intruders

The primary motive behind these regulations is to impede the total evaporation of water seals in traps. Beyond odour control, water seals act as barriers against insects and bacteria entering homes through waste pipes. Evaporation is a natural occurrence, especially in unoccupied homes like vacation residences. The prescribed minimum depth serves as a guideline to prevent complete evaporation, a crucial consideration for houses left empty for extended periods.

Exploring trap diversity

While there are approximately 14 trap varieties used globally, we’ll focus on three prominent types manufactured by Seaqual: the P-trap, S-trap, and the innovative Well Trap.

P-trap and S-trap: Shaping hygiene

Named for their distinctive shapes, the P and S-traps incorporate bends in the piping, trapping a small amount of water consistently. These designs prove effective in maintaining cleanliness and preventing odour.

P Trap installed under sink

90 degree bend trap

Well Trap

Well Trap: Innovating shower drains

Seaqual’s Well Trap, a removable shower trap, offers a dynamic alternative to standard P-traps. Here’s why it stands out:

  • Preventing Evaporation: Safeguards water seals in vacant homes.
  • Combatting Siphonage: Addresses water seal issues in multi-storey buildings.
  • User-Friendly Maintenance: Easily removable and cleanable by homeowners.
  • Object Retention: Catches small items, preventing loss down the drain.
  • Accessible for Plumbers: Removal allows access for rodding blockages.
Well Trap installed in shower area

Well Trap installed in a shower.

Visit our Product Videos page for detailed insights into our WetFloor and LoLo shower drain options.

In conclusion, water seals stand as indispensable guardians against odours, health hazards, and intruders. Understanding their depth, function, and types illuminates the crucial role they play in maintaining the sanctity of our living spaces. Happy plumbing!

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Western Cape
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