See-through "never clog" sink drain


The $20 PermaFLOW Never-Clog Drain seems like a good idea!

With its innovative, self-cleaning design and integrated wiper that removes blockage, PermaFLOW eliminates the need for chemical drain cleaners, plungers, and expensive pipe repairs. This smart alternative to traditional P-traps installs in a snap and even allows for easy retrieval of accidentally lost jewelry and other items.
Amazon has videos of it in action.


  1. Interesting. One quibble: drains only stink if you allow the water in the p-trap to dry out. The water inhibits the sewer gas (from the pipes themselves) from flowing back up the sink.

    I’m sketchy on pipes with moving pieces. Seems like you could get hard water build up on the gear and never get it to move.

    1. I have one of these in my kitchen. I was worried about calcium build-up, too, so I attached to another device, called an Orbo. The Orbo spins it constantly, so both clogs and calcium build-up are avoided. The Orbo also runs on the methane gas that my decaying food produces further down the pipe. Unfortunately, due to some quirk, the Orbo also produces rotting food, in a 3:1 ratio from what I disposed of.

  2. Seems like a clever idea, but after ten years in our house, when I have a blockage it’s almost always hair caught on the mechanism for the drain plug (I know, ewww). I’ve taken a few P traps out and never found the clog there! In my case I don’t think I’d want to add any more moving parts or potential places for leaks to the system.

  3. It seems like some kind of hatch would be a much easier way of getting anything out of the trap. I don’t really see how the valve pushing the object around aids in getting it out.. what do you do if it’s not an easily hooked item?

  4. I think it would be good to see *if* the drain was blocked, but I wouldn’t want to see *what* is blocking it.

  5. Being able to see what is happening in your trap is gong to be as appetizing as seeing what is happening in your colon.

    If you do get a big clog in the trap, you are much better off cleaning it out of the trap rather than pushing it farther down stream where it could re-offend and be much more difficult to deal with.
    If it shows up in Popular Science you probably don’t want it in a mission critical system like your home plumbing.

    1. Being able to see what is happening in your trap is gong to be as appetizing as seeing what is happening in your colon.

      This isn’t strictly “seeing what is happening in your colon”, but here we go:

      I had a colonoscopy, years ago, and was privileged to watch a closed-circuit TV tour up the lower six few of my alimentary canal.

      Amazingly interesting! Like something out of the undersea world of Jacques Cousteau! The docs make you flush out the plumbing, the night before, with gallons of shit-be-gone fluid, so it’s more like underwater caves than the sewers of Paris.

      Plus, they doped me with just enough Valium and muscle relaxant to make the trip reasonably pleasant. I can’t really say “highly recommended”, but if you’re going to have the procedure, insist on watching — it’s pretty cool.

  6. Yeah, after 10 years in my old house, I think I had a dirty trap once. And I can almost guarantee you that this is going to leak within 10 years, as it’s got moving parts with penetrations through the plastic that will be under standing water. (The trap is filled with water, even when the sink isn’t in use.)

  7. What bobcat said, plus it says “installs in a snap!” sorry but it installs the same way a regular trap does, which is always easy to pull and clean out (5 min task).

    I’d have to look at it closer but seems to me that it is possibly more susceptible to clogging, which means you’ll have to be cranking on that thing all the time. It certainly helps on the “gross” factor (while easy to pull a trap and clean it can be pretty disgusting to some).

    Trap door is just another possible leak waiting to happen.

  8. #2 bobcatgoldfinger – I think you’d be surprised. My work has transparent tube traps under their sinks that are still clean and completely transparent and they were installed quite a while ago.

  9. I cleaned the drain for my bathroom sink the other day. Long hair. Mixed with loogies. And yet, dark green.

  10. I’m a plumber. This is a code violation, it is like having a pre-clogged trap which I can’t imagine paying one penny for. Being able to see the vileness is a positive not even for this plumber. People, please install them. Someone WILL pay me to remove them later.

    1. I don’t see why it would be like having a “pre-clogged trap.” If you watch the video, you’ll see that the water can flow around the sweeper no matter what orientation it is in. The diameter of free space around the sweeper looks like it’s the same as the diameter in a normal p-trap.

      Looks fine to me. I wouldn’t be grossed out by giving it a spin every now and then. That said, I haven’t owned a home long enough to know how often the p-traps actually need cleaning.

  11. What’s the little scraping disk made of? “Synthetic rubber” doesn’t tell me enough about the material. If the material isn’t resistant to hydrogen sulfide corrosion, this thing will have a very short usefull lifespan. Does it meet IBC requirements for replacing a traditional p-trap?

  12. Why does the clog they show in the video look like the little “swimmers” I saw in 5th grade sex ed. class?

  13. If only I had a clear pipe section like that for my toilet.

    Or, better yet, a lengthy clear section for an upstairs toilet so that people downstairs could appreciate my hard work.

    1. We have a clear pipe at our plumbing training hall for one of the toilets. You’re not missing much.

      This thing is junk, really how much room for improvement on a p trap do we need? It does exactly what it’s designed to do and does it well. If you’re so mechanically challenged by removing a p trap there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to too grossed out to clean it out anyway. There’s a reason people hire plumbers.

      “Sht flows downhill, payday’s on Friday, and don’t chew your fingernails.”

  14. I saw this a few months ago. Interesting idea, but I’m going to let the Lunatic Fringe (ie, early adopters) test it for me. If it’s still working well after five year, maybe.

  15. I have one installed after my food disposer. It works well, and I enjoy watching the garbage fly through until the water clears. Have used the sweeper once. Worked like a charm.

  16. Three things:

    1a) I didn’t watch the videos but I guess that in normal use, the scraper disk is left in the up position, so that the p-trap behave just like a normal p-trap.

    1b) jfarnold: I went to PF Waterworks’ website: the device IS certified for the Uniform Plumbing code for both the US and Canada.

    2) On water craft, to prevent calcium buildup and to keep the seals from hardening in the head’s valve, it is usually treated by some non-toxic oil and a mild acid. A handy, cheap product to do this is salad dressing. Jeepers, you can even make your own. (See note 4)
    According to PF Waterworks, the wiper disk should be rotated once a week. This will prevent hairballs from forming in the first place.

    3) Maybe I’m really wierd/different/differently-abled, but I’d never call a plumber to service a p-trap. Even one that was glued on – even less so for a just screw-connector-ed on. I mean, c’mon! And I’ve never even read Make magazine.

    1. I’m not a plumbing specifier, but I will say that most municipalities with which I deal don’t use Uniform Plumbing Code, anymore. They use International Plumbing Code (part of the International Building Code). Heck, I didn’t even know ANYONE still used Uniform Plumbing Code…

      Also, with that synthetic rubber flapper, you’d better be careful what kind of oil/acid combo you put down the drain to prevent calcium build-up: some of them will eat away at the fancy-schmancy synthetic rubber.

      1. Architexas, you obviously didn’t go read my link. Lemme save you the trouble:
        “Products comply with the applicable sections of the latest edition of the Uniform Plumbing Code®, the International Residential Code® and the International Plumbing Code®.

        And is salad dressing sufficiently non-corrosive for your taste? How about just plain oil and vinegar? With a little mustard and garlic, perhaps?

        The seals and the wiper are “Good for all household chemicals” and, for some reason, their specs add “except concentrated Sulfuric Acid” (I wasn’t aware that concentrated Sulfuring Acid was considered a household chemical). Yikes! (Does that mean that concentratic Nitric Acid is OK?)

      2. City of Houston’s been on the UPC for years and years now, and is going to go the 2006 UPC next year.
        The surrounding jurisdictions vary on what they use – I THINK Galveston uses the IPC, frex, but I wouldn’t care to bet on it.

        Pretty much, the only reason that Houston adopted the ICC codes in specific cases is because we’d previously been using the ICBO codes – once they formed their magic triumvirate with BOCA and SBCCI we’d adopted those codes. For mechanical and plumbing, though, we’ve always been under IAPMO’s sway.

        God damnit. I should not know this much about Houston’s code adoption process.

  17. “I had a colonoscopy, years ago, and was privileged to watch a closed-circuit TV tour up the lower six few of my alimentary canal.”

    Dang it, I knew it wasn’t a completely weird idea to watch your own procedure. Or at least, if it is weird, there’s other freaks out there just like me. I just had the procedure a couple weeks ago, and I wish I would have had the Doc Tivo it or something (Drugs knock me completely out). Stupid friends and their judgments (lol!), I didn’t even try to watch!

    This plumbing doesn’t look like the same kind of thing, I think this would be disgusting to watch…I’m flushing stuff down the drain for a reason! Yuck!

    And Paul, I wouldn’t call a plumber for that either and I’m just a wimpy girl with nearly zilch for mechanical skills.

    1. I knew it wasn’t a completely weird idea to watch your own procedure. Or at least, if it is weird, there’s other freaks out there just like me.

      Besides the freaky-cool factor (if you’re into that sort of thing), there’s a practical consideration: self-knowledge is a good thing.

      I’m no physician, but I try to pay attention to the evidence of my flesh — might improve the quality, or extend the duration, of my life.

  18. First and foremost, I don’t ever imagine this being useful in a residential environment. The number of times an S-bend would clog is very low. This product would be more suited to a commercial environment, such as a large commercial kitchen at a busy restaurant, for instance. Being able to see what’s causing the clog is actually quite useful from an engineer’s perspective: Years of working in a commercial hospitality environment has lead me to see all sorts of things clog sinks: plastic bags, chicken carcasses, money, hair, a whole apple, a block of cheese….Makes for easy troubleshooting when you can see what it is. Also, as someone else pointed out earlier, depending on what you pour down that sink, oil, acid and other hazardous chemicals can eat away at the rubber seal. Still, my first guess is that even if the rubber ring wasn’t there, it should still be able to serve the purpose of scooping out small items and redirecting wastewater well enough.

  19. They want it cycled every week? There are times when I’m not even getting things out of the cabinet under my kitchen sink every week. Add in the additional opportunity for leaks, etc. and I’ll just have to say no thanks. I’d rather take a stab with Drano (economy size from Costco!), not that I remember ever having to do so in the kitchen.

    Hair clogs from two long-haired people in the tub are a different matter.

  20. A pipe wrench and a bucket. Perhaps a stick or a bottle brush. Ten to twenty minutes.

    Seriously, I’ve been cleaning out p-traps since I was a young lass of eight. Not that hard.

    Why would you install something into your sink that is going to add little back eddies where organics can get trapped and rot? Even in a theatrical paint department sink I can’t see this being a good idea, and that’s among the worst places for sink clogging.

  21. The only thing I will say is some of your comment are really funny. I have had a good laugh reading some of them.
    And may God Bless you always

  22. Look at the diameter of that thing. Just make the drain pipe twice as big as normal and it will never clog.

  23. Add me to the list of people who can handle their own p-traps thanks.

    I’ve never even had to take mine off, the worst we get is some absolutely horrific hair snarls, and only in the bathroom sink and tub drains. Two folks with long hair, plus a long hair cat who thinks the sink is a cat bed and the tub a kitty playground, and there’s a LOT of hair kicking around.

    Sacrifice one wire coathanger to the tool-making gods and some wire cutters, and you get yourself three or four nice hooks of various lengths for fishing hair snarls out of the drains. Wear rubber gloves and a face mask if you’re easily grossed out by the disturbingly organic mess in there, and make your partner come and hold a garbage bag for you. 2 minutes maximum, and after you’re done with the wire cutters there’s no real strength required either, or chemicals.

    We don’t have a big problem with lime scale though, and we don’t ever dump cooking grease down the drain (clogging waiting to happen).

    Most WTF drain clog I’ve ever seen was at my old office, where some jerk was tossing his crappy plastic stir-sticks down the drain along with his coffee. And he drank a lot of coffee. Forty or fifty sticks later, and the tangled beaver dam in the drain stops water dead. Went on for a few weeks with management posting ever less passive and more aggressive signs until they caught whoever it was and gave him the plumbers bills.
    We even had spoons and a dishwasher, I have NO IDEA why he kept using the damn sticks.

  24. How about I use my $4 old-fashioned plunger and clear any drain clogs without using toxic chemicals?

    By the way, there is no way for this to remain transparent. Grease, bio-film, and dirt will cover it in no time.

    I just get the feeling this was announced before it was tested.

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