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How Do I Know If My Shower Drain Is Clogged? (And How to Fix It!)

how to unclog shower drain

No one wants to start their morning with a clogged shower drain, standing water, and a terrible smell. Years of showers with soap, hair, body products, and dirt can cause any shower to drain slowly or clog, making this a common problem for homeowners to deal with. Fortunately, determining if there is a clogged drain, and fixing the drain, is fairly easy and doesn’t require much knowledge of tools or plumbing.

How Do I Know If My Shower Drain is Clogged?

If water is not draining fast enough in the shower, you likely have a clogged drain. If you are standing in a puddle of water at the end of your shower, your drain is likely clogged. A clogged shower drain often smells terrible as well.

If you suspect that your shower drain is clogged, it is important to assess the situation right away. A clogged drain can be an easy DIY fix. Or it can mean finding a reliable plumber. Either way, leaving a clogged drain will only make things worse.

Most of the time, a clogged shower drain is an easy fix for you as a homeowner. Lots of hair, lint, soap, and dirt have built up in your drain and need a way out. Sometimes the clog can be caused by a build-up of minerals from your water, or tree roots growing through your underground pipes. There are numerous solutions to this problem, depending on the severity of the clog you need to clear.

If black gunk is coming out of your drain, it’s a bigger problem than you can handle alone. It could indicate that there is a sewage backup or blockage, and you will need a professional to help with this issue. It is also a health issue for you and your family and needs to be dealt with right away. In this situation, multiple drains and toilets in your house are likely backing up or moving slowly.

6 Tips for Fixing a Clogged Shower Drain

For the clogged drains you can handle yourself, there are several methods to choose from. Remember to keep safety at the top of your mind while trying to figure out how to unclog your shower drain. Rubber gloves and protective eyewear should be used when working on plumbing issues.

1. Try to Pull the Clog Out with Your Hands

Using your hands is the easiest way to unclog a shower drain without tools. Remove the drain cover first, and assess the clog. If it looks like a tangled clump of soapy hair, you can easily pull that out of the drain. Make sure you get as much of the debris out of the drain as you can.

Once all of the debris has been removed, use a flashlight to make sure the drain looks clear. Replace the drain cover and run water through your drain to make sure it flows properly.

2. Use Boiling Water

Sometimes you can use boiling water to clear a drain. Bring water to a boil on the stove and carefully take it to the shower. Remove the shower drain cover and pour the water down the drain slowly. Make sure you are only pouring a little at a time into the drain.

When you have poured all of the boiling water into the drain, replace the drain cover. Run some water through the drain to see if the clog has been cleared.

This is a simple fix, and it may or may not work, but it is worth a try. The boiling water will help to break up and loosen any soap scum and dirt built up inside of your pipes. This is also a great trick for preventing shower drain clogs and standing water. Do this once a week and it should help your drain remain clog-free.

It is important to know what kind of pipes you have before trying this method. This only works with metal pipes. If you have PVC pipes, the boiling water can damage them.

unclog shower drain

3. Use a Plunger

A plunger comes in handy for clogged shower drains, as well as clogged toilets. This trick works even if there is standing water in the shower drain. To try this method, remove the shower drain and add some petroleum jelly to the plunger. This helps make sure the plunger has a good seal around the drain.

Once the plunger is sealed around the drain, run some water until it covers the lip of the plunger. Finally, move the plunger up and down rapidly to force the clog out of the pipes. It should take between 6 and 12 plunges to be effective, and this process may need to be repeated two or three times. Once the clog is removed, replace the drain cover and run some water down the drain again.

Do not use the plunger method if you have put harsh chemicals down your drain in the past day or two. Plungers can cause water with harsh chemicals to splash on you, potentially causing injury. It’s best to wait a couple of days after using harsh chemicals before you try this method.

4. Try Baking Soda and Vinegar

You may remember from science experiments, that baking soda and vinegar create a chemical reaction when combined. This chemical reaction releases a significant amount of gas and can unclog a shower drain by breaking apart the debris that makes up the clog.

To make this DIY cleaning solution, mix 1/3 cup of baking soda and 1/3 cup of vinegar in a heat-resistant cup. Remove the drain cover and pour in the solution. It will start fizzing immediately. Leave the mixture sitting in your drain for about an hour.

After the hour is up, run hot water through the drain to clear away the cleaning solution and any debris that may be left behind.

5. Use a Plumber’s Snake

If you have tried all of the other tricks and you still have a slow drain, you may need a plumber’s snake to remove the debris. Drain snakes are retractable, flexible drilling tools that can be inserted deep inside a drain to get hard-to-reach debris out of the pipes.

To use a drain snake, insert the end of the snake into the drain until you meet resistance. This is where the clog is. Turn the handle clockwise to hook the snake into the debris and continue pushing the snake down the drain. When the resistance lessens, the drain snake has broken through the debris.

Once the clog is cleared, turn the handle counterclockwise to pull the drain snake back out. Make sure you go slowly so you don’t lose the debris that caused the hair clog. Dispose of the debris the snake brought out and run hot water through the drain to make sure the clog is cleared.

A wire coat hanger works similar to a drain snake but must be used very carefully. It is possible to damage your pipes using this method.

6. Call a Professional

If you have tried all of the steps above and you still have a slow shower drain, it is time to call a professional. Try to avoid using drain cleaners with harsh chemicals that have an impact on human health and the environment. These are also hard on your pipes as well.

If you cannot easily fix the clog yourself, a professional will keep you from making some costly plumbing mistakes. Avoid the danger of DIY fixes by knowing when to ask for help.

Our experts at Cates Heating and Cooling are here for all your plumbing needs. Contact us today at 913-298-6466 for Kansas residents and 816-944-1844 for Missouri residents.

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