Drain Blockage? Bathtub Drain Clogged?


A bathtub or shower stall has become essential home items. Whether you have a fill-able tub or just a shower head mounted on a platform the mechanics of a bathroom drain remains the same. Bathtubs have two routes to the pipes. One is the main drain and the other is known as the “over-flow.” The over-flow is a waste pipe that is often installed to give excess water a way out of the tub. The main drain is connected to the stopper or main drain port. Some tubs don’t feature an overflow, but the main drain is always present. When bathtubs clog, it is often in the main drain, but tubs that feature an overflow drain should also be checked for the problem. Bathtub clogs are some of the most common home repair. The reason behind this is because bathing is a full body activity and large amounts of grim, skin cells and hair are washed down the drain.

How Do I Know My Bathtub Drain is clogged?

Well clogged bathtubs are obvious. They drain slowly or they don’t drain at all. Often a clogged bathtub drain will stop flushing water down the main drain and back up into the tub. This cause washed away grime and soap to pool up around the bather’s feet. A clear shower or tub drain will pull waste water down the drain as fast as the faucet or shower head can pump it out. If your tub is slow to drain, that is at least enough of a reason to clean the drain.

Why Does My Bathtub Drain Clog?

Bathtubs handle a large amount of dirt, oil, and soap residue. It only makes sense that after a lot of use the drain would build up with this residue, stray hair, and general filth. One of the top cloggers of a tub is hair. The stuff falls out into the tub and becomes tangled in the drain port. The second cause is soap; liquid soap will leave a residue that coats pipes and drain workings. Over time this residue will build up, but bar soap falls in pieces into a drain. These pieces can lodge themselves in a drain and cause problems.

How Do I Fix It?

  1. If you have an overflow on your tub, then remove the plate and lever with a screwdriver. There will be chain or cord attached to a plunger inside the pipe. If it is covered in dirt and hair, then clean it.
  1. Remove the drain plate or stopper from the bottom of the tub with a screwdriver (make sure to use hand drivers for this work. An electric powered drill could put pressure on the porcelain and crack it or break the drain parts.)
  1. Some drains have nuts that screw into the bottom of the plate, if your tub has that remove it.
  1. Put on a pair of rubber gloves and remove any hair or foreign objects from the drain.
  1. Run hot water until there is about 4 inches of water near the drain. The water should cover the sides of the plunger cup.
  1. Fill a plunger cup with water and set it over the drain to make a good seal
  1. Thrust the plunger about 10 times and pull it up to release any dirt or hair dislodged. Remove the material and plunge the drain again.
  1. Repeat the plunging until the water drains properly.

What if Plunging Doesn’t Help?

If the plunging doesn’t work, then you need to snake the drain. Repeat steps 1-4 in the previous instructions.

  1. Then feed the snake down the drain
  1. When you feel the clog twist the handle a few times. Then pull whatever catches up through the top of the drain.
  2. Discard the hair or whatever is causing the problem.
  1. Test the drain by running hot water down the pipe. If it drains properly you can reassemble your drain.
  2. Twist any nuts back into place and reset the drain plate with its screws
  3. Feed the overflow plunger and tube back through its opening and line up the screw holes. Tighten it down with the screws.

Manually unclogging a drain is the best way to fix a tub. There are chemicals and home remedies that you can use, but that doesn’t help with the main culprit… hair. It doesn’t matter if you have a head full or are bald, hair is still the main reason a bathtub drain clogs. With a little elbow grease and a strong stomach you can avoid calling a plumber.

Keep in mind though that some problems demand a plumber if a sewer smell or waste water is backing up into you tub, then you should call a professional. Only tackle easy fixes around your home, if the clog is deep in your pipes, you should spend the extra money for the guys with the right tools.