How to unclog a shower drain

bathroom plumbing

A clogged drain is never an ideal situation for any home. Do you find yourself in the common situation of taking an unintentional bath every time you shower, constantly having the water reach your feet or even higher? If you are dealing with a lot of standing water in your bathtub after every shower or bath, then you most likely have a clogged bathtub drain. It is important to unclog your bathtub drain as soon as possible because standing water can create more problems for your home and bathroom.

Hazards Posed From Standing Water

Depending on the severity of your bathtub’s clog, you might be dealing with standing water sitting in your tub for hours or even days. Standing water can be the cause of many problems in your home.

  • Standing water is a breeding ground for insects, mainly mosquitoes, flies, and dragonflies that will be a nuisance to you if allowed to reach its adult form and continue to breed.
  • Mosquitoes and Flies both carry an assortment of diseases that could harm both humans and pets. These insects also host parasites like heartworms and tapeworms.
  • Standing water causes mold and mildew to form; this is a breathing hazard for anyone in the home.

If you are noticing your standing water to be getting higher with every shower, then it will benefit you to call a professional master plumber from Benjamin Franklin Plumbing to unclog the drain for you.

If you have chosen to go the route of fixing the problem yourself, here are some tips to help you try to unclog that bathtub drain and allow you to relax in the shower again. Before starting any of these steps, take the necessary measures to clear your tub of any standing water, or else you will just add more water to your tub.

What To Have In Handy Before You Start

  1. Rubber Gloves
  2. Plunger
  3. Plumber’s Snake
  4. Screwdriver
  5. Bucket
  6. Rag or some type of cloth to use for blocking
  7. Sponge

1. Remove All Visible Blockage From Your Drain

clogged drain

You can do this simple look and fix with your fingers. We always advise wearing gloves if you’re going to be making contact with all the gunk that has accumulated in your bathtub’s drain. A lot of bathtub clogs are caused by unwanted hair, soap scum, or other bathroom products making its way into your drain. Sometimes these blockages can be very visible and can easily be cleared out with your fingers. A normal occurrence is a big hairball that has accumulated in your drain. After doing this, check to see if the water can drain from your tub.

2. Plunge Your Bathtub

If you have removed all the visible blockage from your drain and find that your bathtub is still not draining then, it is time to plunge your bathtub drain.

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overflow cover removal

Remember to remove any standing water from the tub before starting. Take your screwdriver and remove the overflow cover this is usually located under the faucet. Inspect the coil and remove any hairs or material that is blocking it.

Now that you have removed the overflow cover take your rag and jam it in the hole of the overflow opening. Make sure you stick it in there tight, this is to ensure that no air escapes when you attempt to use your plunger. We should mention that as you start plunging, your rag will be pushed out from the air trying to escape. So, it is important to use a free hand to keep your rag lodged into the overflow opening. If you could have another person whose job is to keep the rag in place it will make this whole process a lot smoother.

Now that the preparations have been made start plunging your bathtub’s drain. Dedicate a good amount of time to doing this. If you have never used a plunger before then, it is easy to assume that this method is not working. But, give it some time and effort and you may be rewarded soon enough.

You will know you are successful when you start to hear the water drain. If this method proves successful, and your pipe looks cleared, then proceed to run some hot water through your drain to clear any remaining residue that was causing the blockage.

If this method did not work either, then we would recommend snaking the drain next.

3. Using a Plumbing Snake to Unclog Your Drain

plumbing snake

This can be challenging if you have no familiarity with using a plumbing snake. If you are unsure with how to use a plumbing snake and plunging did not work then, we highly advise calling a professional to help fix this issue.

If you have attempted the plunging method than your overflow cover should already have been removed. Take your plumbing snake and insert it into the opening left from removing the overflow cover. You are going to feed the snake through the hole until you meet with some pushback or resistance in the pipe.

Once you hit this resistance, it is time to try to use your snake to break the clog apart or attempt to move it down the drain both will work in unclogging your bathtub’s drain. Once you have been met with some resistance, turn the snake counter clockwise to snake it into the clog. If the clog fails to break apart, then you will have to attempt to pull the clog out from the overflow opening.

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If this does not work either, you can attempt a home remedy drain cleaner.

4. Unclog Bathtub Drain Without Chemicals

We understand that many people do not like the idea of dropping chemicals into their drains to try to unclog it. This makes sense as many liquid drain cleaners can make the situation worse and clog up the drain even more. Also based on the type of plumbing pipes you have, liquid drain cleaners can also rust or erode your pipes.

What you will need for this method:

  • Baking Soda
  • 1 Cup of Vinegar
  • Hot Water

You can start with a half cup of baking soda and pour that down the bathtub’s drain. Really get that baking soda in there. Now working with your vinegar, pour half of your cup down the drain slowly, you should start to see some “fizzing” happen. When you notice this happening, cover the drain, and wait for the fizzing to stop. Once the fizzing has stopped, continue to do it again.

After this part is done, let this sit for 30minutes and prepare the hot water. After 30minutes has passed, pour the hot water down the drain. Did this relieve your bathtub of its clog?

These are our tips to how to unclog a pesky bathtub drain in your bathroom and relieve your home of harmful standing water. If none of the above solutions were useful, and you are still facing this problem, then it is time to call your friendly Benjamin Franklin Plumber.

Do not worry, we will come to your home on time and make sure we solve your problem on the same day we arrive.

Call Us Today: (319) 365-6792

How to fix a clogged drain

Typically, clogged drains are the result of a foreign object or debris getting stuck in a drain pipe, or built-up residue that makes it impassable. Sometimes, the challenge is how to unclog a drain with standing water. If you didn’t catch the clog fast enough and water has backed up, it could make for a messy situation.

Drain cleaner. Often a sink clog can be remedied with drain cleaner, which is available at your local hardware or home improvement store. If you think that the clog isn’t too bad, you could also try vinegar and baking soda. If you prefer the non-chemical approach, try pouring some vinegar down the drain, and then follow it with baking soda. The combination will cause a fizzing reaction (that looks like carbonation) that can be effective for minimal sink clogs.

Plunging. A plunger can be a quick solution when fixing clogged sink pipes. This takes some patience and a little practice. There are mini-plungers designed for a clogged bathtub drain, shower or sink, that might work better than a standard toilet-sized model.

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Snaking. A drain snake is a very simple tool that can be used to dislodge a clog. It’s a small piece of plastic that can be inserted into the drain, and it has little “teeth” on the sides to provide resistance against hair that could be built up and causing the clog. You can view a video from This Old House to see one technique for snaking your drain.


Preventing a clogged drain

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the same applies when dealing with a clogged drain. Even if you’ve become a pro at fixing the situation, you’d much rather not have the clogs at all.

  • In the kitchen, take care when disposing of grease and oil in the sink. Find alternate methods when possible, and when you must dump small amounts of grease down the drain, always run hot water.
  • Keep your garbage disposal clean, and always run water when using it. In a sink without a disposal, use a strainer to catch pieces of food and debris to place in the trash.
  • In the bathroom, use a drain cover or strainer to catch as much hair as is possible. Clean the visible areas of drain openings frequently when you see debris has begun to collect.

Most of us can’t repair every issue that arises in our homes, but if you can learn how to unclog a kitchen drain or clogged bathroom sink, for example, you could save yourself some money and the headaches finding a reliable professional for the job. We’d also like to hear about your DIY experiences in the comments below. What tips or tricks can you share that worked for you?

Got A DIY Question? Ask-The-Expert!

If you have a DIY home repair, maintenance or improvement question for Norma, now is your chance to ask-the-expert and have her answer. Your burning question may just be the “star” of an upcoming Fix-It Friday column.

Add your question to the comments section below or email it to Women You Should Know.

Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.


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