How To Clear A Clogged Bathtub Drain 

 April 25, 2017

By  Xion Lab

Nothing can be a worse sight than being greeted by a clogged bathtub after an entire day of hard work and drudgery. Sometimes the only thought that keeps us going throughout the day is the prospect of a hot aromatic bath, and then to come home to a scene of it all clogged up and bunged with hair, soap scum, and whatnot is truly frustrating.

At moments like these you could only wish for two things; to know how to clear a clogged bathtub drain, and you should have never let all the hair and soap pieces to be engulfed by the drain.

What’s done is done though; if you are currently facing the said situation then we’ll help you to learn how to clear a clogged bathtub drain, and if you have yet to face the situation then we’ll help you deter this bad situation from ever happening, by enlightening you how to prevent the bathtub drain from getting clogged in the first place.

Let’s discover how we can keep our bathtub clean, prevent things from getting clogged, and in case it has already been clogged then learn how to clear a clogged bathtub drain.

And you can do all of the above without calling a plumber or buying expensive cleaners and chemicals from the nearby store.

Clear A Clogged Bathtub Drain

The Structure of a Bathtub Drain:

The anatomy of every drain is more or less same. And though it doesn’t require much brainpower to understand one, it is still important to make sure everyone knows how the structure really goes. So that when you are up to your knees in stinky water trying to figure out how to clear a clogged bathtub drain, you are not in the dark about the drain’s anatomy.

We all can see the opening of the drain in the bathtub. Following right behind is the drain pipe which further slides down to a curved section below it. This curved section is referred as trap and shaped like a “U” or a “P”. This curve is responsible for keeping the sewer water in its place.

When the curves in the trap become clogged (due to many reasons), it fails to hold back the sewer water and up it goes all over the bathtub–and if you are too late–then all over the house.

Now that you know what a drain looks like let’s learn what are the major contributors to bathtub drain blockage.

Reasons behind a Clogged Bathtub Drain:

– Hair:

It’s funny how hair on our hair are considered one of the prettiest features of people, but as soon as these same hair break off and fall into drains, they become an abhorred object. Hair is the major culprit of clogged drains, regardless of the drain we are talking about. Showers, bathtubs, and even kitchen sinks are often found floating with hairballs.

The reason that hair is more evil than other clogging materials is because it not only clogs the drain by itself, but further stops the passage of every other teeny tiny object and gives it a place to stick. The clogged hairball becomes so large and congested that in a small time, it clogs the entire drainage system of the bathtub. And this can happen in the middle of the night, hence making it important for everyone to understand how to clear a clogged bathtub drain.

– Foam and Froth from Soap:

Another reason for bathtub drain clogging is the foam and forth from soaps that frequently get stuck inside the drain line. Many time small pieces of soap also slide inside the drain. A common misconception, of which we all have been victims of, is thinking that soap can easily dissolve in water. Usually it is suppose to dissolve but when it gets down the drain and accumulates there with other objects it becomes hard and stays that way. Over time the soap scum too begins to block the drain.

– Hard Water:

If your apartment or house supplies hard water then you’ll frequently fall victim to a clogged bathtub drain. Hard water is rich in minerals and often the solid particles in it deposit on the bottom of the drain pipe, and clog the drain. Hard water combined with hair and soap causes blockage in the drain line and is often hard to treat, which makes it all the more important for everyone to learn how to clear a clogged bathtub drain.

Ways to Prevent the Flooding Catastrophe from Happening In The First Place:

Though we are all about instructing and encouraging everyone to learn how to clear a clogged bathtub drain, we still believe that prevention is better than cure. Once you get to know about the reasons behind clogged bathtub drain, it becomes easier to avoid them.

To help you out, here are several smart techniques that will help the house residents from being greeted by the terrible sight of clogged bathtub drain at the end of their day. Not to mention the fact keeping the clogging at bay will save loads of time later and requires little work. Here it goes:

  • First things first, make a habit out of pouring hot boiling water down you bathtub drain once every week, and running regular water after it. This small endeavor loosen downs any clogging gunk, and clears the pathways of water. When done every week, it doesn’t even give the hair and soap scum a chance to mount up for long. It also clears up oil or grease (body and hair oil) that covers the drain.
  • Though the first trick works effectively for many people, it fails those who have exceptionally long hair, or when the hair fall is just too much to be handled by a pot of boiling water. In this case, the best preventive measure is to install a hair catcher or a hair trap. A hair capture is a tiny gadget that costs very little yet comes with big benefits. It fits on top of the drain and catches all the hair and gunk before they go down the drain. You just have to remove and clean it once every week and you’ll never face a day of clogged bathtub drain you entire life.
  • If your dilemma is not the hair but hard water then you need other kind of preventive measures. Hard water can be softened using water softener available in the market, or the ion exchange water softener that fits below the faucets and filters out the hard materials for you.
  • Avoid dropping flakes or left out soap pieces down the drain thinking it will dissolve on its own. It won’t.
  • If you are forgoing all the above preventive measures then a strainer can also make things easier for you. Strainers too hold up most of the gunk and make it easier to clean the blocked drain because if you know how to clear a clogged bathtub drain, it doesn’t get any easier or less time consuming.
  • To kill the germs and to keep you bathtub drain smelling fresh, pour down baking soda and vinegar once every month and let it sit overnight. It cleans and clears up the drain line and leaves it smelling good.

Clearing the Drain with Tools Manually:

Now that we have enlightened you with ways to keep the clogging at minimum, we come to the next step of learning how to clear a clogged bathtub drain. There are many ways to handle a clogged bathtub drain. If you don’t know how to clear a clogged bathtub drain then you are left with no choice but to call a plumber.

But since this cannot happen in the middle of the night, you can either unclog the drain using household items, or you can use the more effective method and use inexpensive tools to remove the gunk manually. Here is how you can unclog a bathtub drain

Makeshift Tool:

First thing you need to do is remove all the hair in the drain or as much as is visible to you. If you don’t have a tool then you can improvise by using a thin wire coat hanger as a make shift tool for fishing out the gunk. Begin by straightening out the hanger completely. Then bend the ends in a hook-like shape so that you have something to catch all the hair with. Use pliers if you want. Once you have achieved the desired tool, use it to clean out all the hair and gunk from the drain basket. Once satisfied flow hot water to flush everything down the drain.

Using the Plunger:

If your drain problems do not stop at the drain basket and go all the way through the drain pipe, then you need to take care of the depths inside the drain, where the entire gunk has accumulated. For that a plunger is needed. First off, remove the drain cover and the stopper from the bathtub, and then fill a small amount of water in the bathtub, next began plunging.

The combined pressure of air and water will break through the clog and begin to pull the water down the drain. Open the faucet and let the water flow freely. Once you are satisfied, replace the stopper and enjoy a good bath.

Using a Drain Snake:

If you have neither of the above tools but only a drain snake available nearest to you, then you can still get rid of the problems given you know how to clear a clogged bathtub drain. Repeat the process of removing drain pipe and stopper from the bathtub, and then put the snake inside the drain as far as it can go.

Pour hot water inside the bathtub and twist the snake handle. Repeat the process and keep feeding the snake inside the drain, eventually you will feel an obstruction stopping it from going further. This obstruction is causing the blockage and you need to keep twisting the handle, until it gives way and you can see the water begin to withdraw inside the drain. Pull out the drain snake; replace everything back inside and appreciate the worth of an unclogged bathtub.

Clearing the Drain Using Household Items:

This DIY method only works when the bathtub drain is clogged minimally, and taking care of it in advance will help you deter a bigger evil. Which is why knowing how to clear a clogged bathtub drain will come super handy.

Here’s what you can do to treat the drain with everyday household items:

1. Vinegar and Baking Soda:

Pour one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar down the drain and put a cover on it. Let the concoctions sit there for a few minutes. Uncover the lid and pour a pot of boiling water to flush the vinegar and baking soda. This combination will break down grease, fatty acids, soap scum, and most kinds of gunk that are hard to catch with a drain snake or a plunger.

2. Baking Soda and Salt:

If you are short of vinegar in the house then you can use another affective formula that involves everyday household items found in the kitchen. Pour equal quantities (half a cup preferably) of salt and baking soda in the bathtub drain, then flush it down with large quantity of hot boiling water, and cover the drain. The choked up drain will instantly breakdown with hot water and the abrasive nature of baking soda, and will not only unclog the drain but will also cleanse it and leave it smelling pleasant after the treatment.

3. Clean The Bathtub:

When the bathtub is left dirty, the soil and dirt becomes solid and often clogs up the drain. To get rid of the years’ old gunk in the bathtub (in case the house is being used after years) give the bathtub a thorough wash. Fill the bathtub to the rim with searing water and pour bland dish soap. Follow the dish detergent with 4 cups of bleach and let the jets run half an hour, the end result will be a pristine white bathtub and clean drain.

Warning: Do not use any of the above methods if a market product has already been tried on the drain and is still present in the bathtub water.

drain cleaner

Identifying the Stopper of Your Bathtub Drain:

In order to learn how to clear a clogged bathtub drain, it is important to first learn about the kind of stopper it contains. Different stoppers ask for different methods of removing them, which is necessary to give the bathtub drain a thorough cleaning. Here are some of the most common kinds of stoppers found in bathtubs:

  • Toe Touch:

Also known as foot actuated, toe touch is the kind that threads in the drain cross bar. No tools are required to handle them and can be replaced or removed manually by just pressing it down.

  • Push Pull:

As easy as its name, the only thing a person needs to do to remove or replace it is to push or pull down the knob present in it.

  • Pop-Up:

The mechanism of the pop-up stopper is present inside the drain and works internally. The rod inside push and pulls the stopper as it pops up and down.

  • Lift and Turn:

The name speaks for itself. The lift and turn opens and closes just like its namesake. Lift it and turn it anti clockwise and it open and close easily.

  • Flip It:

Flip it stopper is the one with a toggle and flipping the toggle will close and open the stopped instantly.

Tips To Remember When Unclogging Bathtub Drain:

Just knowing how to clear a clogged bathtub drain is not enough until you learn all the right tricks to remove it. If you think you can handle a bathtub drain now and unclog the most stubborn of clogs, then make sure you keep these tips in mind before taking on the task yourself:

1. Detach The Attachments Properly:

If you attempt to remove the tub system from the floor while it is still attached, you’ll be damaging many things at once the floor, the bathtub or maybe your arm. You can make use of a superglue remover to make sure that the attachments are properly removed before getting to the work of unclogging the drain.

2. Turn Off The Faucet:

We know it is gross but that doesn’t mean you have to be careless. Most people in order to keep things clean turn on the faucet for clean water flow and keep it that way. This only makes the entire process messier.

3. Turn off the Main Water System:

If you don’t want to be sprayed with water on your face with high pressure and get knocked back, then it would be wise to turn off the main water supply for a few minutes.

Learning how to clear a clogged bathtub drain is a valuable skill to learn. You never know when you might be faced with an overflowing dirty bathtub that is slowly and steadily creeping towards your bedroom and the entire house. You can put a stop to the overflowing bathtub drain and keeping things clean by mastering the above-mentioned piece of advice.

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