There’s nothing like a slow drain to put a damper on a refreshing shower.
Worse, the water may not drain at all — it just sits in the bottom of the tub.
Fortunately, a clogged shower drain is usually an easy fix. Here are some simple things you can do to clear a clog.
Use Your Finger to Clear Hair & Soap Scum Clogs
Most shower clogs occur at the drain or just below it. Hair and soap scum are the typical culprits.
Remove the drain cover and use your finger to search for a clog in the pipe. If you don’t see any, try using a long flexible wire to probe for the blockage and dislodge it. Never force anything down into the pipework, as this can damage it.
Use Boiling Water to Clear Greasy or Caked Clogs
Sometimes, the simplest solution is the best. Boiling water can often break up a clog and send it down the drain.
Once you’ve removed the drain cover, pour several kettles of boiling water into your shower pipe slowly and see if that does the trick.
Use Baking Soda & Vinegar as a Natural Drain Cleaner
Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into the pipe, followed by 1/2 cup vinegar. The two ingredients will react and start fizzing.
Cover the drain to keep the reaction contained and let it sit for 15 minutes before pouring a kettle of boiling water down the drain. This mixture works wonders to break up stubborn clogs.
Use a Sink Plunger to Clear Standing Water
A plunger is a natural choice for clogs with standing water, which creates a tight seal for the plunger and the perfect conditions to pull the clog free.
Air in the plunger’s cup reduces suction and effectiveness.
A toilet plunger won’t work for a clogged bathroom drain. Only a “cup plunger” or sink plunger will.
How can you tell the difference? A toilet plunger has a high bell and a flange underneath, which looks like a little skirt.
A sink plunger has a low bell without a flange — it’s the “old school” plunger with a simple design for relatively flat surfaces like your shower floor.
Apply a few short thrusts straight down, then release and repeat a few times until the clog clears. Don’t ever, for Pete’s sake, plunge a drain where you’ve added chemical drain cleaner!
Use a Drain Stick or Snake for Stubborn Clogs
A plumbing snake, or auger, is the next step for tough clogs. It’s a long cable with a spiral end for hooking and removing pipe debris.
Thread the snake into the drain pipe until you reach the blockage. Twist and pull the cable to scrape away gunk from inside the pipe walls. Exercise caution when handling the snake, as it can damage the pipe.
A drain stick is a cheaper but effective probing and clearing tool with less reach. But as a bonus, it’s less likely to damage pipes.
Call a Plumber When All Else Fails
Professional plumbers have specialized tools to help them locate and clear even the most difficult clogs. These include powerful water jets, pipe cameras, and motorized snaking equipment.
Water jets use a forceful stream of heated or pressurized water to blast away debris and scum from pipes without damaging them.
Cameras can pinpoint the location of the blockage, making it easier for a professional plumber to know where to focus attention and what tool to use.
Plumbers also have special tools to cut through tree roots or other debris infiltrating your pipes.
And if a collapsed or corroded sewer pipe is responsible for the clog, a plumber can recommend the best repair or replacement option.
It’s critical to call a qualified plumbing professional when all else fails. Removing a stubborn clog with caustic chemicals could cause further damage and result in costly repairs down the line.