What Causes Bathtub Drains To Become Blocked
Before we talk about how to unclog bathtub drains, lets start by thinking about how they get blocked in the first place because knowing how they get clogged will help us understand how to unblock them.
The main culprit for bathtub drain clogs is hair. When you take a bath or a shower and shampoo your hair, a few hairs may fall out into the bathwater and be washed away when you empty the bath.
One or two hairs might not be a problem, but with time, the hairs build up into a tangled mass, causing a blockage to form.
Then, once the blockage begins, it also collects any dirt and grime that gets washed down the drain along with soap scum and anything else like fingernail clippings and hair from shaving. Mineral buildups can also contribute.
At first, the tangled mass will cause the water to drain more slowly, but eventually, it will completely clog the pipes, and you wont be able to drain your bath at all.
This can happen to anyone, but if at least one person in your household has long hair, a bathtub drain clog can develop much quicker.
What Can I Pour Down My Bathtub Drain To Unclog It
Boiling water should be your first port of call. Baking soda and vinegar are also great natural alternatives to chemical solutions. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, wait a few minutes for it to set, then pour a cup of white vinegar down the drain, advises Chris Wootton, Managing Director, of cleaning service Poppies.
The mildly acidic solution should break down more severe clogs and following up by pouring boiling water down a few hours later should help clear any lingering debris. In the event this doesnt work, you may need to resort to chemicals or unblocker there are lots of reasonably priced and effective drain unblockers on the market, adds Chris.
Prevent Your Tub Drain From Freezing Again
Once you go through the trouble of trying to melt a frozen bathtub drain, youll be more willing to take preventative measures. You do want to ward off the problem from recurring in the future, right?
So what can you do in cold weather?
- Keep the inside temperature above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Open cabinets with pipes and bathroom doors to circulate the air.
- In anticipation of a freeze, turn off the water lines and be sure to drain the water still in the pipes.
- Inspect the water lines that run to your bathroom and the drainpipe and vent stack. If any of these run through uninsulated attics or crawl spaces, consider adding more insulation.
- Some experts say to leave a slow drip from the cold tap to prevent freezing.
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How To Clear A Shower Drain With Boiling Water
Sometimes you can clear a clog in metal pipes by simply emptying a kettle of boiling water down the drain, a little at a time. You can pour the water down the drain without removing the shower drain cover.
Do not pour boiling water down PVC pipes, which can be damaged by the heat. This simple fix may or may not work, but it’s worth a try. After the boiling water goes down the drain, run some water in the shower to see if the clog has cleared.
Insert A Drain Stick Cleaner Down The Drain
These can be purchased at Walmart or similar store. First, remove the hair from the crosshairs in your drain basket. Insert the stick between the crosshairs. And pull out what doesnt belong. As you might guess from this process, 80 percent of bathtub clogs begin at the basket. The problem is usually just a sticky wad of hair that collects on the crossbars. The crossbars are located a few inches under the stopper/strainer. If hair is wrapped around the crossbars, slice it with a utility knife and then grab it with the wire.
Perhaps your clog is deeper. The drain stick can be inserted deep enough to go through the drain basket, the drain shoe, and hit a drain trap. The drain trap is the curved part of the lower drain. Keep pushing the drain stick through this trap. The stick is flexible and will bend, so dont worry!
However, if youre in a pinch, an effective hair-removal tool can be made. Unravel a wire coat hanger or use a stiff wire to start. Bend the end or your wire into a hook with needle-nose pliers. This makeshift tool can clean out the drain basket and shoe. But it should not be used to press down into the drain trap. Even a screwdriver could be used to clean out the drain basket.
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Can You Put Drano In A Tub With Standing Water
Most chemical agents require you to remove standing water before applying them to clogs. However, there are certain types of Drano that you can pour into standing water, and it will make its way through the water and into the drain. Make sure to check your container of Drano before buying it to make sure it has this capability because not all of them do.
How Do Bathtub Drains Become Clogged
Bathtubs get clogged for a variety of reasons. According to Loren Bottem, a plumbing manager for Genz-Ryan, the No. 1 culprit is often hair. As hair goes down the drain, it gets stuck in pipes and builds up, causing a clog. Other things that can contribute to clogs are soap scum, dirt and even mineral buildup from hard water. One way to prevent clogs is by using a strainer in tubs and showers to catch hair and help prevent the primary source of clogs.
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How To Unclog A Shower Drain With Vinegar And Baking Soda
If boiling water and removing the hair do not work, you may still have to figure out how to unclog a shower drain. To make a DIY cleaning solution, mix 1/3 cup of baking soda with 1/3 cup of vinegar in a heat-resistant cup.
Remove the drain cover and pour in the solution, which will immediately start fizzing. Let it sit for at least one hour so the vinegar and baking soda can work. When the hour is up, run hot water down the drain to flush out the cleaning solution and any debris.
Ways To Unclog A Bathtub Drain Full Of Hair
Blocked bathtub drains are a pain, and as well as being inconvenient, they can also create some nasty smells.
If your drain is blocked, you need to take steps to remedy the situation ASAP and in this post, we explain several methods for how to unclog a bathroom drain that you can try yourself before you resort to calling out a plumber.
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Does Baking Soda And Vinegar Damage Pipes
No, baking soda and vinegar should not damage pipes, as long as youâre using them in the proper amounts for unclogging purposes. When baking soda and vinegar are combined, it causes a chemical reaction that generates a mixture of carbon dioxide, water, and sodium acetate.
This mixture is harmless to most household pipes. However, if you are using too much of either substance, it could cause damage to the pipes, as it can be corrosive. This is especially true of older pipes that may have accumulated grease or other debris over time.
To be safe, it is best to use minimal amounts of baking soda and vinegar when trying to unclog drains, and not pour these items directly down the drain.
Remove Hair Or Debris
If the drain is still clogged, the problem may be a soapy clump of tangled hair that you can pull out of the drain with your fingers. You can pull it out even if water is standing in the shower, as long as the water is not too hot to touch.
If the clog is too far down to reach with your fingers, unscrew or pry up the drain cover. Then straighten out a wire coat hanger and make a small hook at the end. Put it into the drain and fish out any debris. Use a flashlight, if needed, to help you see into the drain.
Once you’ve gotten out as much debris as you can, carefully pour another kettle full of boiling water down the drain, a little at a time. Again, do not use boiling water if you have PVC pipes.
Replace the drain cover and run the water in the shower to see if the clog has been cleared.
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Try Using A Drain Claw
Finally, if the clog seems too deep in your plumbing system or it seems to be far too stubborn to properly dislodge , you might need to resort to using a drain claw.
Also called by a range of different names, the claw is typically a long flexible tube with a handle on one end and a small claw or a few metal loops on the other. All that you need to do is feed the claw or looped end into the drain until it hits the clog, then pull it back up. You may need to repeat the process a few times for bigger clogs to be cleared out completely.
Is It Ok To Plunge A Bathtub
Yes, it is usually OK to plunge a bathtub. In most cases, plunging a clogged bathtub is the first step in unclogging it. However, you should use caution to ensure that you are using the right plunger for your tub.
It is important to use a plunger specifically designed for sinks and bathtubs, which is typically a cup plunger with a flange at the bottom. Also, it is best not to plunge a bathtub with an overflow drain.
This is because plunging forcibly can plug the overflow and cause water to back up into the tub. Therefore, before attempting to plunge the tub, it is wise to first check the drain screen for any clogging.
If this does not work, it may be best to call a professional plumber to clear the blockage in the bathtubâs drain pipe.
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Remove The Drain Stopper
While its rare, your bathtub stopper or drain stopper may be permanently stuck in the closed position. A stuck stopper can happen on older tubs or ones that arent well maintained. Essentially, the mechanism that opens and closes the drain stopper becomes disconnected from the actual stopper.
If the mechanism became disconnected when the stopper was closed, it would remain in that position until you manually alter it. The only way to do this is by removing the stopper completely and either fixing it or installing a new one.
S For Clearing A Clogged Bathtub Drain
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Boil The Blockage Away
Assuming there is no standing water in your bath, the next easiest solution for unclogging a bathtub is the good old boiling water trick. Pouring boiling water down the drain will help you get to the areas that may be out of reach. Boiling water is ideal for clearing grease and soap that has stuck together the heat will activate it and help get things moving, explains Chris Wootton, Managing Director, of cleaning service Poppies .
Just a liter or so of boiling water should suffice. Once it has cleared, try running the faucet to see if things have speeded up. If not, its worth trying one more kettle full before moving on to step three.
Dump Hot Water Into The Drain
I included this option as the last one on the list because it probably wont work. However, if you dont have household items like vinegar, baking soda, and salt at your disposal, you can try hot water by itself. The odds of this working arent great, but its a good last resort before calling a plumber or turning to chemicals.
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How Do You Naturally Unclog A Bathtub
A clogged bathtub can be a major inconvenience, and you may not always have the tools necessary to unclog it. Fortunately, there are a few DIY methods to try before you turn to more aggressive methods.
The first thing to try is using a plunger. If you have one, make sure the plunger is submerged in enough water so that it is able to seal the area around the drain. Move the plunger up and down rapidly, and this should dislodge the clog.
If the plunger does not work, you can try a natural cleaner to strip away any debris blocking the pipes. Put a cup of baking soda and a cup of white vinegar into the bathtub and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
The mixture will bubble up and dissolve any gunk or grime that might be causing the clog. After the time is up, flush out the debris with plenty of hot water.
If neither of those methods work, you can also try using a wire hanger. Straighten out the wire hanger and make a small hook at the end. Push the wire toward the drain and see if you can grab the clog.
Pull out the wire and dispose of the clog into the trash.
How To Unclog Bathtubs
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Unfortunately, many of us pretend that nothing is wrong when our bathtub starts backing up.
And some DIYers, its okay weve all done it at one time, resort to chemical solutions. But these products often lead to more frustration and even the occasional expletive because they dont work that great.
If you start to smell a pungent odor coming from your bathtub drain along with water backing up it means youve got a clog. Stinkiness ensues because hair, dead skin, oils, and other unmentionable stuff getting stuck in your tubs waste pipes.
Fortunately, this is an easy fix for anyone. You can totally do this on your own without picking up the phone to call a plumber or handyman.
If youve ever been frustrated with a slow draining bathtub and didnt know how to fix it, todays brand new Home Repair Tutor show is for you.
Youll learn step-by-step how to remove that nasty clog and get back to enjoying a soothing bath.
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Add A Few Inches Of Hot Water To The Tub
If your bathtub doesnt drain after removing the strainer, then the drain really is clogged. Before you start unclogging, use the bathtub faucet to add several inches of hot water to the tub. Add enough water that you can submerge the head of the cup plunger youll use when you place it over the drain. This water will help generate the pressure and suction required to pull the clog out of your bathtubs drain.
NOTE: plunging a bathtub is a messy process, and you may splash yourself with dirty water during the process. We recommend putting on gripping plastic boots, proper protective eyewear, and a plastic apron before you get started.
How To Unclog A Bathtub Drain With Standing Water Using A Plunger
If you cant get any water down the drain because the bathtub is clogged so badly no water is getting through, its time to use some force.
Your next step will be to use a plunger to try to suck out and dislodge any clog in your bathtub. There are specific sink plungers you can use on sinks and bathtubs, which are smaller than a toilet plunger.
This is a good one because the size of the mouth will fit over most drains, and the accordion-style of the plunger is better for unclogging sinks and for unclogging a shower drain.
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