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Unclogging Your Bathtub Drain

Is a slow drain giving you nightmares? Poor maintenance of bathtub drains can cause your bathtub to drain slowly or block entirely. What causes a sluggish drain is a build-up of hair, dirt, and other non-dissolving debris in it.

In such a situation, the question is whether you need a plumber to unblock your drain or if you can fix it yourself. In this article, we will bring to your attention the different methods of unclogging your bathtub drain easily and quickly on your own. But before that, let us first look at the primary causes of bathtub drain clogs. Read on!

What Causes Bathtub Drain Clogs?

Most bathtub drain clogs are caused by accumulated dirt. The dirt build-up can be a result of many things, including:

  • Human hair, soap, natural oils, pet hair, and product residue. All combine to create a mass or obstruction that clogs the bathtub drain. The above mentioned are the toughest clogs to clean. The best way to remove them is to use a snake drain trap regularly before a build-up.
  • Grooming products such as cotton balls, Q-tips, and wipes. if you wash down such products into your drain, they will build up and cause clogging over time.
  • Personal hygiene stuff such as dental floss or tampons can also cause clogs.
  • A build-up of hard water. Hard water has a high magnesium and calcium content, which leaves residue along the pipe and, with time, can cause clogs.
  • Cracks and leaks in old pipes can cause clogs in bathtub drains. Old pipes rust and corrode, making the interior rough, thus causing it to snag hair and grease as they flow. These materials cause clogging of your drains. Repipe your home to avoid frequent clogs.

How To Clean Your Bathtub Strainer And Stopper

Did you know that you can clean your bathtub stoppers without chemicals? Keep in mind that some bathtub stoppers have screws, and others do not. Therefore, you should handle them differently. In the first method, you will discover how to unclog your bathtub by cleaning a levered dropper, push drain stopper and drop stopper.

Most clogs are caused by accumulated debris and hair. Therefore, the first thing you should check is the drain stopper. Depending on the type of strainer and stopper, it should not take you more than ten minutes to clean and assemble everything. However, if you are uncertain of how to dismantle and assemble it, call a plumber.

Below are the tools that you will need to clean your bathtub strainer and stopper:

  • Knife
  • Coat hanger
  • A pair of needle-nose pliers
  • Screwdriver

Levered Stopper

Some strainers or stoppers do not have a screw. In such a case, pull it with your hands and remove the debris. It is important to note that some old bathtubs have stoppers in the drain pipes, while some have a lever in the overflow plate.

  • The first thing to do is remove the cover, clean the bars, and unscrew the plate.
  • Then, unscrew the plate and pull the long metal linkage out.
  • Clean all the parts and run clean water in the drain pipes.
  • Readjust the linkage if it happens to be crooked.

Push Stopper

  • To begin with, remove the tap before unscrewing the stopper.
  • Now, remove the stopper or strainer. To do this, you need a screwdriver.
  • Ensure that you use the correct screwdriver to unscrew the stopper.
  • Finally, turn on the water to clean the strainer.

Drop Stopper

Unlike the push and levered stoppers, drop stoppers have knobs to lift when opening the drain. Additionally, they have screws that you can unscrew to determine the number of obstructions.

For instance, in some cases, the obstructions are wrapped around the crossbars. This means that you need to use a knife to cut the wad and then a pair of pliers to pull it out. Sadly, in most cases, you cannot reach the obstructions unless you use a coat hanger.

Cleaning Your Bathtub Drain With A Drain Claw

If your drain is still slow after cleaning the strainer and stoppers, you should use a drain claw. This tool is affordable and unclogs your bathtub drain effectively.

These are the tools you need:

  • Paper towels or a washcloth
  • Drain claw
  • Screwdriver

Step One: Remove the Stopper and Unscrew the Strainer

To remove the debris and hair under the strainer, remove the stopper and unscrew the strainer. Ensure that you store the screws in a safe place to avoid losing them.

Step Two: Remove the Waste Around the Stopper

Over time, some waste materials may build up around the stopper and strainer. Use the washcloth or paper towels to remove the waste effectively.

Step Three: Push the Drain Claw into the Drain to Clear the Clog

Once the stopper and strainer are clean, push the drain claw deep into the drainpipe as far as you can. Push further in the drainpipe to collect as much debris as you can from the drain.

Step Four: Remove the Drain Claw and Clean It

Now pull out the drain claw slowly to collect the dust, hair, and soap scum. Clean it properly and store it for future use.

Step Five: Test the Flow and Assemble the Parts

Run some water to check if it will flow smoothly down the pipe. If it does, then it is time to assemble everything back in place. Screw the strainer and place the stopper back in the drain.

How To Use A Plunger To Unclog Your Bathtub Drain

If a drain claw did not solve your problem, maybe it is time to try a plunger.

To apply this method, here are the tools that you will need:

  • Plunger
  • Screwdriver
  • Duct tape

Step One: Remove the Strainer and Stopper

Remove the strainer and stopper and clean all the accumulated dirt and hair around the area.

Step Two: Fill Your Bathtub with Water

Cover your bathtub drain with duct tape and fill the tub with boiling water. Boil water in advance and keep it hot as it helps to dissolve the blockage. Place the plunger on the hole to act as suction.

Step Three: Let the Plunging Begin

Push down the plunger and pull it up repeatedly. After doing so repeatedly, you will notice dirt and hair emerge from the drain. Scoop the dirt out and keep repeating the process until you scoop out all the dirt coming to the surface. Lastly, remove the duct tape and test the flow of water down the drain.

Unclogging Bathtub Drains With Baking Soda And Vinegar

You might think that this method is old-school but do not ignore it as it can go a long way in unclogging your bathtub drain. Baking soda and vinegar are harmless and readily available, as you can find them in your pantry. These two items, plus boiling water, have proven effective in unclogging drains.

These are the items you need:

  • Baking soda
  • Screwdriver
  • A pair of protective rubber gloves
  • Vinegar
  • Boiling water

Step One: Remove the Stopper and Strainer and Clean Them

Just like the above methods, cleaning the stopper and strainer is essential in this method. Remove all the waste materials using paper towels or a washcloth.

Step Two: Pour the Boiling Water Down the Drain

Have some boiling water ready and pour it down the drain slowly to avoid burning yourself. In some cases, the drain will unclog, and you will not need to apply the vinegar and baking soda. However, if unsuccessful, proceed to the next step.

Step Three: Apply Baking Soda and Vinegar

Mix two cups of vinegar with one cup baking soda and pour the mixture down the drain. Set a timer for roughly 30 minutes and wait for the combination to work its magic.

Step Four: Pour Boiling Water

When the timer goes off, pour the boiling water into the drain. You will notice a sizzling sound as the mixture clears any blockage. Run some water into the drain to check if the drain is still blocked. If it is still blocked, you can repeat the process. Alternatively, you can try out another method, such as a drain cleaner.

Commercial Bathtub Drain Cleaners

Before using any commercial bathtub drain cleaner, you should know that such products are fast and effective but can cause damage to your drain pipes. Therefore, this should be your last resort. Still, when using such products, follow these steps:

Step One: Read the Instructions Carefully

Make it a habit to read the instructions on your products before using any commercial drain cleaner. In the back of every product, the manufacturer points out the steps to follow and the safety precautions to observe.

Step Two: Drain All the Water in the Tub

Remove all the water in the bathtub using a bucket and dry the tub properly before using any product in the drain.

Step Three: Use the Drain Cleaner and Wait

On the instructions label, check the stipulated waiting time after you pour the product down the drain. Once you do, pour your product into the drain. When the time is up, pour some water and check if your bathtub drain has unclogged. If the clog has not cleared, then it is time to engage a reliable plumber.

Reach Out To A Trustworthy Plumber If Necessary

You should know that plumbing services are expensive, and to avoid such unnecessary costs in the future, make it a habit to:

  • Understand the basic functions of your drainage system; it is not rocket science.
  • Perform regular drain maintenance. You can use a snake drain once or twice a week to avoid build-ups.
  • Plan for routine checks by a professional plumber.
  • Avoid strong drain cleaners as they can damage the pipes.

If you have tried all the above methods and your bathtub is still not draining correctly, you need to engage a professional plumber. In some situations, the clog is further down the drain, and you cannot fix it on your own. Therefore by hiring the services of a professional, you will keep your drains cleaner for longer.

Blueline Plumbers are your local specialist for all domestic plumbing and gas fitting needs.

Get in touch for a free quote or speak with a qualified plumbing specialist. We will help you find a solution for your emergency plumbing or plumbing repair needs.
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