Nothing will ruin your morning shower faster than looking down and realizing you’re standing in a puddle of grimy, lukewarm water. You may have also noticed that your shower takes forever to drain or an unpleasant odor emanating from the drain.
You’ve most likely got a clogged shower drain. But before you pick up the phone and call a plumber, there are a few things you can do to try and unclog it yourself and avoid a costly repair bill. This article will show you how to unclog a shower drain with a few simple tricks and some common household items.
The most common cause of a clogged drain is a backup of hair and soap scum, but dirt and minerals in your water can also get stuck in the drain over time and cause a clog. Sometimes, tree roots can cause a pipe to crack underground and contribute to the blockages.
How to Unclog a Shower Drain: 8 Quick Tips to Save You Money
1. Run Boiling Water Through the Drain
This is probably the simplest method of clearing minor clogs and backups. The heat helps soap scum and dirt break up easier and can often clear small clogs. Make sure that your pipes are metal, not PVC because boiling water can loosen the joints in PVC pipes and cause leaks. You can also do this as part of your weekly maintenance to prevent future clogs.
2. Experiment with Vinegar and Baking Soda
These common kitchen supplies when mixed together can often dissolve hair and soap blockages without the need to use harsh or toxic chemicals. Pour the baking soda down the drain first, wait a few minutes and then add the vinegar. Let it sit in the drain for a couple hours and rinse it (and hopefully the clog) down the drain with boiling water. This mixture is also an effective way of cleaning your shower drain on a regular basis.
3. Grab the Toilet Plunger
You probably have one of these lying around the house already and in some cases it can work on clogged drains as easily as it does on toilets. Plungers are often an effective way to clear blockages caused by hair, just make sure to clean loose hair off the drain cover after every shower to prevent future problems. If your drain cover is missing, you can purchase a replacement at any hardware store.
4. Remove the Clog By Hand
If the previous methods haven’t worked or you can see the clog, removing the clog by hand may be a quick, easy solution. Take off the drain cover and pull out the blockage. Make sure to wear gloves because it’s going to be a dirty job. This method won’t work on soap or mineral buildups so you may still need to use another method to fully clear the clogged drain.
5. Utilize a Hook
If you can’t reach the clog by hand, you can try using a hook fashioned from a wire hanger to snag the blockage. This is a fairly effective method for clearing hair clogs but again, it won’t work on other types of clogs.
6. Use Chemicals
Most supermarkets and hardware stores sell a variety of drain-cleaning products designed to dissolve soap scum and mineral blockages. Make sure to follow the directions carefully as these are typically made with very strong chemicals that can cause burns and respiratory problems if they contact the skin or you inhale the fumes. Also make sure you do not mix different products together because they can create a poisonous gas when combined.
7. Try a Plumber’s Snake
Also called a “toilet jack” or an “electric eel”, this tool can be rented from some hardware stores if you don’t already have one. It consists of a metal “rope” wound inside a drum that you push down the drain until you reach the clog. Turning the handle spins the “rope”, which can often break up the clog, allowing it to be washed down the drain. A plumber’s snake will clear most blockages, however, it is not very effective against clogs caused by the roots of plants or trees.
8. Call a Plumber
If none of the above methods have cleared your clogged drain, it’s time to call in the professionals. This is definitely not the cheapest option but may be the only way to fix the problem.
Preventing Future Clogs
Now that you’ve learned how to unclog a shower drain, there are some things you can do to prevent the clogs from reoccurring.
1. Buy a drain protector
For a couple of dollars you can buy a protector that will catch hair and other small objects and prevent them from washing down the drain and causing a clog.
2. Install a secure soap dish
Soap can cause loose hair to stick together into larger clumps and make it harder for it to wash down the drain.
Prepare and Prevent a Clogged Shower
Keep in mind that you can also use any of the methods described above as preventative maintenance to ensure that your drains stay clear and most of them will work on a clogged sink too. Remember, prevention is always better than the cure, and in the case of a clogged drain, much easier on your wallet as well.