Is your shower or bathtub drain clogged up? Blocked bathroom drains are one of the most common plumbing issues homeowners face. Thankfully,, they’re pretty easy to fix using only basic plumbing tools and chemicals.
In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of unblocking your shower or bathtub drain and getting the water flowing again. There are a few different ways to unclog a shower or bathtub drain, each of which fixes a specific type of blockage.
Identifying the cause of the blockage
Is your shower drain completely blocked, or does it just drain slowly? Switch on the water and run a small amount into your shower. If it drains out slowly, the drain is only partially blocked and is probably filled with hair.
Fixing a shower drain that’s blocked by hair is fairly simple. Put on some protective rubber gloves, since it might be dirty. Using a screwdriver or small tool, gently pull up the drain cover and place it beside the drain itself.
Removing hair from a drain catch
If your shower drain has a catch, lift it up and remove any hair. Dispose of the hair in your garbage can – don’t flush it down the toilet, or you could end up having to fix an entirely different drain.
Once you’ve cleaned out the catch, run some water through it and place it inside the drain. Gently reinsert the drain cover and set it back into place, then run some water from the shower to check that the drain is clear.
Removing hair from the drain
If your shower or bathtub drain doesn’t have a hair catch, or removing hair from the catch doesn’t unblock the drain, the source of the blockage is probably further down the drain itself.
Remove the drain cover again and, if your drain has a tub stopper, gently unscrew and remove the stopper. Look into the drain and see if you can spot anything stuck inside – common causes of blockages include hair, bandages and product labels.
You’ll need a drain tool to pull any materials out of the drain. You can purchase one from your local hardware store, or – if you’d like to save money – bend a hanger into a hook shape to scoop hair out of the drain.
Reach into the drain with your drain tool and twist it around inside the pipe. You’ll want to dig as deeply into the drain as possible to scoop up hair. Once you’ve fished around in the drain, pull your drain tool out and dispose of it in the garbage can.
Fit the drain cover again and run some water from the faucet or shower to see if it drains quickly. If it doesn’t drain, you may need to apply more pressure to the drain to dislodge the source of the blockage.
Using a plunger to unlock the drain
If the above two methods don’t fix your blocked drain, you can try applying pressure using a plunger. Place the plunger over the drain and pump it up and down – lots of blockages will be dislodged and cleared simply by the pressure of the plunger.
If the plunger alone isn’t effective, try pouring some hot water (not quite boiling hot, as this level of heat can damage your plumbing system) down the drain before using the plunger. The heat of the water will often wear away at hair and other blockages.
Can’t unblock the drain? Call a plumber.
Some blockages are impossible to remove using basic home tools, often because the source of the blockage is deep inside the drain. Try the above methods first and call an expert plumber to fix the drain if they fail to produce results.