Showers take some of the highest abuse in a home. With gallons of water going down them during an average shower, along with hair, dirt, grease and other gunk, it’s not surprising when it gets backed up. But how do you fix it?
The best way to clear a clogged shower drain isn’t by using the latest and greatest chemical fix, it’s by physically removing the hair and gunk. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: You can start by sizing up the drain opening. In shower-only units, there are a couple types of drain strainers. They can be removed by either removing the screws holding the drain strainer plate down, or in drains that do not have screws holding a plate down, by using a screwdriver or pair of pliers to unscrew the strainer. If you have a tub and shower combination, you may need to remove the drain plug before removing the strainer.
Step 2: Be sure to clean the underside of the strainer and plug. To get it really clean, use an anti-bacterial spray cleaner, a brief soak in bleach solution, rubbing alcohol or a similar disinfectant to disinfect it. This will help slow down the stink and gunk build up a little before you need to clean out the drain next time, hopefully giving you a more pleasant experience.
Step 3: You’ll need to use a wire hanger, a long-handled crochet hook, drain snake or other plumbing hooking tool. If you’re using a wire hanger, stretch it into a straight length. On one end, use a pair of pliers to create a hook between 1/2″-3/4″.
Step 4: Using the hanger or crochet hook, stick the hooked end down into the drain and begin pulling hair and gunk out of the drain. If you’re using a drain snake or other drain-clearing tool, use the same type of activity to remove small amounts of the clog at a time in order to break it up and make it easier to remove.
Step 5: Keep going back into the drain for more hair. It will take a while and some patience to get it all out. Work the hook or plumbing tool at slightly different angles to get all around the drain so that you’re able to get to all the areas of the clot out.
Step 6: After you’ve hit the point that you’re not getting any more gunk out, you can pour a pot of boiling water down the drain to help clear out any remaining sludge, being careful to pour directly into the drain or use a funnel so that the quick temperature change does not crack the porcelain. Another option is to follow up after the boiling water by pouring 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar and cover the drain for 5-10 minutes, then flush with another pot of boiling water. This will help clear out any remaining gunk and freshens your drain.
Step 7: After you’re done treating the drain, it’s time to screw the strainer back into place, replacing the drain plug if you had to remove it to access the drain.
Another method to try works only if the clog is between the drain and the vent, but can sometimes be effective. If it’s a tub, you’ve got an overflow that will need to be blocked by covering with duct tape in order to seal the system. Remove the drain stopper and start the hot water. Fill the tub with water to two inches in depth and then place a cup plunger over the drain, using firm pressure to quickly push the plunger up and down five to six times. It’s normal for the duct tape to move a bit while you’re doing this. Remove any debris that’s come up and repeat until it flows freely. Remove the duct tape and replace the stopper.
If you’ve tried these methods and are still not having any success breaking up the clog or you’re not comfortable working on your plumbing to this extent, it may be time to call a professional. With 25 years plumbing experience and a 98% customer retention rate, we’re more than happy to help with all your plumbing needs.