QUESTION

How do I unclog my bathtub drain?


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Overview

Plungers for tub drain problems: How to use a plunger to clear a bathtub drain.

Use drop stoppers, bent wires and the like, or even your own fingers!: How do I unclog my bathtub drain

Drain-cleaning products (e.g., drano): There are many ways to unclog a bathtub drain. Among the more powerful methods is using chemical agents. A little chemical agent can have a powerful effect and easily unclogs the drain.

Remove the drain cover: If your drain is plugged, the first step is removing the stopper to check for a clog close to the drain opening. There are pop up drains and those with internal stoppers. Once the stopper is removed the clog can often be removed as well.

Snake the drain: Consider the Alternatives before you tackle that clogged drain.

Clearing a drain with hot water: There are several methods to clean a stopped up drain. One of the simplest is to simply pour hot or boiling water down the drain, then plunge the drain.

Plunging: There should be enough water to submerge the cup of the plunder. If not, add more water. Push down with quick, forceful motion. If that doesn't work, call a plumber.


Plungers for tub drain problems

Next to kitchen drains and garbage disposals, the tub drain gets the most abuse of any drain in the home. We put hair and hair care products through it, along with the occasional razor blade cartridge. Over time, the drain can slowly get clogged, until you are standing in the tub taking a shower with 2 inches of slow draining water around your feet. Yuck!
To Clear the Drain, Use a Plunger.
1. Securely cover and seal the overflow drain with a wet rag or cloth.
2. Turn on the hot water and fill your tub with enough water to cover the clog. Pull with the plunger about 10 times to ensure that you fully clear the clog.
3. Submerge the plunger cup. Place the plunger over the drain and completely cover the drain opening. A plunger functions by creating pressure (when you depress the plunger) in the drain line to loosen and move clogs, and by creating a vacuum (when you pull up on the plunger) to move the clogged material the opposite direction and sometimes to the surface sowater underneath the drain will help to clear up the drain more quickly.

Use drop stoppers, bent wires and the like, or even your own fingers!

Look down the drain for hair. If you see some, use your finger to pull up as much as you can. You can also use needle-nose pliers, tweezers, or a bent wire hanger to help you remove the hair.

The easiest and most effective tool for a slow or clogged bathtub drain caused by hair is "The Drain Claw". You simply insert "The Drain Claw" into the drain, working your way around the opening or stopper and giving it a twist. With over 100 small interlocking hooks, "The Drain Claw" will grab hair and allow you to pull it out.
Use a bent wire hanger or "The Drain Claw" to clear deeply inset clogs. First straighten the coat hanger out, then make a hook in the end. Use it to pull out anything in the drain. Do not push it in, it will make the clog worse.
You can make your own "drain hair remover" with plastic strapping tape that is used for binding boxes or shipping crates. Just cut a length approximately 30 inches more or less and snip the plastic on both sides, creating "snags" for the hair and gunk. Insert it down the drain and push it down the drain. Remove the debris, then run water to flush the drain.

A drop stopper has a prominent knob that you lift and turn to open the drain. About 80 percent of the time, you can fix slow-draining or clogged tub drains in five minutes, without chemicals or a $100 plumber bill. In most cases, you'll only need a screwdriver and a stiff wire or a bent coat hanger. The problem is usually just a sticky wad of hair that collects on the crossbars, a few inches under the stopper. All you need to do is figure out how to remove the stopper and fish out the gunk. Bend a little hook on the end of the stiff wire with a needle-nose pliers and shove it through the clog. If hair is wrapped around the crossbars, slice through it with a utility knife and then grab it with the wire.

Remove the drain cover and clean under the surface of the drain. You will find that hair has accumulated underneath the drain. Some drains have tub stoppers pre-installed. On those, first pop up the stopper and twist to unscrew, then just remove the plate with the trip for the stopper and carefully remove the stopper assembly. This would be a good time to try the "bent hanger" method because this usually has hair and any other articles which have been stuck to the stopper. Replace the stopper the same way.

You can also use a shop vacuum. Remove the inside bag and filters. Set the vacuum program for vacuuming liquids. Be sure to cover the vent. Put the hose on the drain before turning on the shop vacuum. When it is on tight and the vent is covered, have a second person turn on the vacuum. This will draw all debris up the water trap and into the vacuum. If the clog occurred going down the drain. It will be more easily cleared by drawing it back than packing it down.

Use needle-nose pliers to pull out wads of hair. Hair can be blocking the pipe where drain cleaners may have no effect.

Try to put your coat hanger into the pipe in order to clean it out. Try to use the coat hanger to fish out the debris. Be sure not to get the coat hanger stuck by maneuvering it carefully.

Drain-cleaning products (e.g., drano)

Drain-cleaning products (e.g., Drano)

There are many ways to unclog a bathtub drain.

A tub drain often has hair stuck in it. Pry off the cover and reach in with something like an old toothbrush to snag out the hair and accumulated soap gunk. Hopefully, this glob of hair and gunk is all that is causing your drain to be sluggish. I have found that Drano crystals are very effective for dissolving accumulated hair and soap scum. Remember to keep hands, face and children away from drains while using Drano®. Also, never use a plunger during or after use of a Drano® product. The formula may still be present in the drain and splash-back could occur1[ ]For a partial clog (water that flows more slowly than usual), we recommend using Drano® Dual Force™ Foamer to unclog the drain. For standing water that doesn’t clear for several hours, use Drano® Max Gel—it pours through water straight to the clog.

For a partial clog (water that flows more slowly than usual), we recommend using Drano® Dual Force™ Foamer to unclog the drain. For standing water that doesn’t clear for several hours, use Drano® Max Gel—it pours through water straight to the clog.

Try putting 1 cup baking soda in drain
Combine 1/3 cup baking soda with 1/3 cup vinegar in a large liquid measuring cup, pitcher or bowl. Quickly pour the entire contents of the container down the drain. The faster you can do this, the better, because the fizzing action will gradually die out.

Utilize a plunger to help drainage problem if this occurs.
For slow drains in old houses, pour a bottle of bleach down the tub drain once a month in the evening (every 5 weeks for the bathroom sink).

I suspect that baking soda and hot water would help in a kitchen drain, as it would react chemically with grease build up. Drain cleaners are strong bases; baking soda is a mild base -- the chemical reaction would be the same, only not as strong.

Remove the drain cover

Remove the Drain Cover

If your drain is plugged, the first step is removing the stopper to check for a clog close to the drain opening.

If water backs up quickly every time the drain is used, the problem is most likely close to the drain opening.
Simply unscrew the screen for easy access to this clog and remove it as before. If the drain has an internal stopper, simply unscrew the overflow plate and pull the linkage and stopper up and out. Then clean the linkage and stopper and run water down the drain to clear it out.
Occasionally, the linkage is out of adjustment and the stopper doesn't open far enough from its seat to allow a good flow. If that is the case, adjust it, reinsert it, and test it. Run water into the tub. If it leaks out, lengthen the stopper linkage to seal the drain better. If the drain doesn't open to let the water out, shorten the stopper linkage.

Push down on the stopper to release it and open the drain. These stoppers lock and seal when you press them down and release when you push down a second time. The way to remove them isn't so obvious. In most cases you have to hold the stem while unscrewing the cap as shown. With the cap off, you can sometimes fish out the hair from the crossbars. Otherwise, simply remove the entire shaft by unscrewing it. You may have to adjust the screw tension on the stem when you reinstall everything to get a good seal.

Find a screwdriver so you can unscrew the screw holding on the drain cover. Unscrew the drain cover with the screwdriver. Pull the screw through, lift the drain cover, and take out the the pop up drain stopper. That’s where all the hair actually is.

Snake the drain

Snake the Drain

Consider the Alternatives before you tackle that clogged drain.

If plunging doesn’t remove the obstruction, you need to pursue more aggressive measures. One such measure is using a snake. A snake is what most plumbers get the most success with.

Using a snake is not without risk as they can actually compress and enlodge the obstruction more if used improperly
Snakes can be purchased at any hardware store. It consists of a spring steel cable with a spring on the plumbing end and a crank on the user end. It can go up to 15 to 25 feet down into the pipes collecting debris.
However, preventing the clog in the first place may be the best option of all. Plumbers can be expensive and using bleach once a month can keep drains free andclear. Trypouring a half gallon of Clorox into the drain once a month to keep it flushed. This option works better than liquid drain cleaners in situations with hair clogs because they would just stop at the blocked up place and make the situation worse. Working with chemicals requires care though, as they can burn and damage skin, clothing, pipes, and surfaces.

Clearing a drain with hot water

Hair, dirt, soap and grime are constantly running down the drain (yep, we know, it’s pretty gross).
There are a few methods of unclogging a drain, but it's worth starting with the simplest one - pouring boiling water down the drain.

To use this method, simply heat about one gallon of water and pour it down the drain.
For improved safety, to make sure the water doesn't spill it is best to use a tea kettle rather than a pot.
his works best if your drain is not completely clogged. Carefully pour the water directly into the drain. Avoid splashing the hot water. Kettles are useful for easy pouring. Let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes before using a plunger.
Many plumbing professionals now do not recommend using boiling water on the possibility that it may melt or liquify any sealants or wax or rubber gaskets used for the plumbing fittings or connections.

Plunging

Plunging

There should be enough water to submerge the cup of the plunder.

If there’s no water, the cup won’t be able to form a vacuum seal and generate any pressure. There should always be enough water to submerge the cup. If there’s not enough water, fill a bucket from another source and add it.

Push down with quick forceful thrusts. This will concentrate pressure down the drain toward the obstruction. Repeat for 15-20 seconds.

Your best bet for plunger-resistant clogs is to call an experienced plumber and drain cleaning professional who can quickly and safely remove the obstruction and get you back flowing.

If calling a pro isn't for you, experts on Google say plunging, is the best answer. You put your plunger in your bathtub and plunge the drain. Plunge the heck out of it.
If plunging doesn't work, try plunging more and harder.