Of all the household problems, a clogged bathtub drain is probably the most annoying.
In fact, any clogged drain can bring everything to a standstill, leave unwanted remnants behind and cause all kinds of irritant problems. Clogged bathtub drains can be due to various things such as:
- Loose hair
- Soap pieces
- Natural build-up of ‘stuff’
This ‘stuff’ accumulates and narrows the size of the drain and eventually clogs the drain.
The question is – how can you fix a clogged bathroom drain? Knowing what to do in a situation like this can save you time, money, and nerves.
Clogged Bathtub Drain Prevention
There are several solutions that we can offer, but before we start, it might be clever to think about how to avoid having the problem of a clogged drain in the first place.
The key is prevention and maintenance. Years of neglected pipes with massive build-up, hair, grease, or rust can eventually lead to more serious problems. To avoid this, try a couple of simple tricks that you can repeat every 4 to 6 weeks. For example, you can use a strainer to trap particles and hair, pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to melt away the grease, and keep your drain clog-free.
If the problem persists, you’ll need to resort to more effective measures, and here are our tips on what to do.
Clear Out The Blockage
Every drain pipe has the same anatomy. At the bottom, there is a curved section, U or P shaped, depending on whether it’s a sink or a bathtub. At this curve, its purpose is to trap some water and prevent unpleasant sewage smells from coming back up.
This is also where, over time, blockage builds up and slows down water draining. In bathtubs, it is usually hair and soap scum. If you can see the hair, the solution is pretty easy: use a pair of tweezers or nose pliers, or even a simple hooked piece of wire, reach in and pull out the clog.
Use a Plunger
In case when you can’t see the blockage, try plunging the clogged bathtub drain. A plunger is a handy and inexpensive tool that even pros use as their first choice. The procedure is as follows:
- Pour enough water into the tub to cover the drain
- Plug the overflow with a rag to stop the air from venting out
- Put the plunger over the drain and pull up and down several times.
Since the air is sealed in and a vacuum is created, the pressure should be enough to loosen the blockage and clear out the pipe. If it doesn’t work on the first try, repeat the procedure several times.
Snake the Clogged Bathtub Drain
If the plunger doesn’t work, the next step is snaking the drain.
A plumbing snake is another simple and useful tool that most households have. It consists of a long wire with a spike at one end and a handle on the other that can be rotated electrically or manually.
What you need to do is lower the wire into the drain and start turning the handle. The snake will break up the clog by pushing its way through it, or you will be able to pull it out. You can also try running some water down the drain as you do this – if the clog is gone, the water will run free.
This procedure might need to be repeated several times as some blockages are more persistent than others. However, be cautious not to go too deep with the snake as you may run into complications trying to pull it out. If this happens, you will have to hire an expert for blocked drains to inspect them and eliminate the issues.
Power Blast the Clogged Bathtub Drain
There’s a tool that’s easier and less messy to use than the snake: “a blow bag”. It is an expanding rubber bladder that can be attached to a garden hose which is then pushed down the pipe, it fills with water, expands, and blasts through the clog. However, it must be used carefully so you don’t damage the connections of a plastic pipe drain system.
Use Homemade Cleaners
Some people use chemicals as a cleaning option. However, most of them are harmful to the environment and professionals refuse to use them for the same reasons. As a replacement, there are many home-made drain cleaners that you can use. The most popular ones are also the simplest – they only use two ingredients which most households have: vinegar and baking soda. When you combine these two, they create a powerful cleaning mix.
You simply pour soda down the drain, add vinegar and let it sit for about 10 minutes and then flush it with boiling water. You can also find a lot of tips and practical, frugal solutions from other people with the same issues at Thriftyfun.
Whatever the problem may be, don’t forget that information, preparation and resourcefulness are your main weapons!