How to Correctly Unclog Your Drain in the Shower or Bath

Shower Drain

When taking a bath, it is common to have pieces of soap, hair and dirt find their way into the drain. Over time, the dirt and grime will accumulate leading to blockage. While this is pretty gross, the gunk will result in blockage preventing waste water from the bathtub from flowing easily. This is where you get to experience pools of water or backflow of waste water in the tub.

When this happens, many people will attempt to unblock by drain cleaning. During this period, several mistakes are made. Some of them include using chemical cleaners, using a garden hose and using a coat hanger. Here is why they are great mistakes: When you use harsh chemicals bought from the store, not only will they offer a temporary solution but they will cause damage to your pipes. What this means is that you will incur costs not once, but possibly multiple times. One for unclogging the drain and another for having your damaged pipes replaced.

Using a garden hose as a high pressure wash solution will ultimately backfire on you. Not only will it result in a huge flood but it will also lead to serious damage to the plumbing pipes. Furthermore, due to the flooding, you could end up causing damage to the walls, ceiling and floors.

The alternative to a plumber’s snake for a home owner is the coat hanger. The reason why a metal coat hanger is not suitable for unclogging your bathtub is that it will get stuck and it’s hard to maneuver. So, how do you unclog your drain?

Here is what you need.

  1. Screwdriver
  2. Pliers
  3. Drain snake
  4. Adjustable wrench
  5. Rubber gloves.
  6. Bucket with warm or cold water
  7. Soap
  8. Baking soda and vinegar
  9. Plunger

How to unclog your drain – Step By Step guide

Step One – Remove the strainer

The first step you need to do is remove the strainer. This is the metal mesh like part that covers the top of the drain. You need to unscrew the center located screw in order to remove the strainer. Make sure you have gloves on to prevent germs from finding their way into your finger nails. The proper screw driver for removing the strainer’s screw is the flat head screw driver. If you are not familiar with the right type of screw driver needed, you can always try to match their heads.

Once you select the right type, it should fit easily on the screw driver. Twist the screw driver in an anti-clockwise motion in order to open it. Once the screw is off, use the screw driver to lift the strainer by its edges. Place the screw and the strainer away from the working area to prevent losing them.

Step Two – Stopper removal

You will find some drains are fitted with stoppers. These are designed to work in place of the strainer. They help to redirect waste water into the drain and out into the sewer line. They are easy to remove and you don’t need to use a screw driver. This is because they are not held by screws. You can use pliers to twist and remove the stopper. Once you have removed the stopper, you can place it aside.

Step Three – Clean the stopper and strainer

You need to take time to clean the stopper and the strainer. You will find that they are both coated with gunk on the underside. This is the main cause of your clogging but it won’t solve the present problem. The reason you are doing so is to ensure that they are both clean when you replace them. You can clean both of them using warm water, soap and a piece of cloth. Scrub the upper and downside of the stopper and strainer to remove all the dirt.

Step Four – Use the drain snake

The most important part of the exercise has finally arrived. Using the drain snake or stick, you need to dip it into the drain pipe. The drain stick is usually inserted deep into the drain until you hit the drain trap. This is the curved part of the drain. You need to push past the trap to allow you to unclog all the gunk that is causing blockage.

The good thing about the stick is that it is flexible and will bend easily. As you continue dipping it, you need to remove it to the surface from time to time. Inspect the sides to see what is attached. If you find, soap, hair and grime, then these are the causes of the blockage.

Clean the gunk from the drain stick and insert it again. You need to do this repeatedly until the stick comes out with less gunk sometime later. This will mean that 99% of the problem has been removed.

Step Five – Test the bathtub

Before replacing the strainer and the stopper, you need to test the bathtub. Run the tap for a few minutes and watch what will happen. If a pool forms around the drain and keeps on increasing in size, then you have not resolved the problem. You need to dip the drain stick further until you are sure nothing is blocking the waste water.

When you try again and water flows, then you have cleared the problem. Replace the stopper and the strainer. Before you place the screw, apply a little grease along its threads. This helps to prevent the occurrence of rust and will improve its lifespan.

What if the above method does not work?

There are home remedies that can help you unclog your drain. You can use baking soda, vinegar and hot water. This should help to scrub off the gunk and allow waste water to flow. You can also use a plunger. The suction force from the plunger will push away the gunk which is composed of hair, soap pieces and grime. Run the bath water to see if there is any backflow. If it flows well, pat yourself on the back and remember not to allow hair, soap and dirt to flow into the drain.

You can also hire an expert especially if all the above methods do not work. The problem may not be simple as you may have thought.

Final Thoughts

If you have noticed waste water in the tub is not flowing well but instead a pool forms on the bathtub floor then, your drain is clogged. As time has gone by, you may have been letting hair, soap pieces and dirt to flow into the drain. Overtime, they have accumulated and formed grime/gunk. This prevents the proper flow of waste water.

There are common mistakes many people make when faced with this kind of problem. Some of them include using a metal coat hanger, using harsh chemicals and using a garden hose. These methods will only offer temporary reprieve. In the end, you will have to repair or replace your plumbing system.

Take your time and follow the listed steps above and you will be unclog your drain safely. It only takes 30 minutes.


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