How to Unclog a Bathtub Drain?

Bathrooms are one of the most critical parts of any building. Although we might not want to take care of these things until they stop functioning properly, plumbing and drainage are something that every building, commercial or residential, should get checked up and maintained regularly.

Whether it’s a clogged bathtub drain or a shower with low water pressure, there are some common issues with bathrooms and bathtubs that need to be addressed promptly to ensure the smooth functioning of these amenities. If left unaddressed, these minor-looking drain problems wreak havoc on your entire plumbing eventually leading you to spend a fortune to fix. In this article, we will discuss some of the common solutions on how to unclog your bathtub drain and make sure you always get a relaxing bath whenever you feel like it.

Causes for a Clog in the Bathtub Drain

Sinks and Drains clog for several reasons. Some of these causes might not seem severe at first, however, they build on your pipes slowing and constricting the flow of water. Most clogs happen at the first stage of the drainage system, or the drain trap. Here are some common causes that contribute to clogging your bathtub drain.

  1. Hair:  Bathtub drains specifically, clog due to hair that is washed down by water while you take a bath. Human hair, pet hair, fabric, and lint from your clothes are all similar and equally dangerous for your drainage system. 
  2. Soap Scum: While we use soap to clean our bodies, it does just the opposite to your pipes and bathtub drainage system. The lather and scum produced by soap is toxic and gets greasy as it slides down your plumbing. Enough accumulation of this and you have yourself a clog to deal with. 
  3. Minerals: Water and other bathroom products contain various kinds of minerals and chemicals. These minerals accumulate in your pipes and drain over time and eventually become strong enough to corrode your entire plumbing or cause clogs by blocking the flow of wastewater. 
  4. Foreign Objects: Foreign objects like plastic, paper, or other waste that accidentally ends up in the bathtub could slide down the drain hole and get lodged in the valves and pipes which restrict the flow of water, causing a severe clog. 

Now, before you try and unclog your drain, it’s necessary to understand the problem that you have in hand. There are different ways to deal with different kinds of clogs, especially when it comes to toilets and bathtubs. It’s also ideal to figure out the root cause of the clog if possible since that will make the unclogging process much easier.

4 Steps to Unclogging a Bathtub Drain

How to Unclog a Bathtub Drain

Now that we know the common causes of clogs in your bathtub drain, let’s look at some ways to unclog the bathtub drain. There are some easy steps you could try at home if you have a clogged bathtub drain. These 4 steps mentioned below will save you time and stress whenever you have to deal with a clogged bathtub drain and can even be useful for unclogging drain across your home.

Step 1. Manual Removal of a Clog

First and foremost, trying to remove the clog manually should be your initial way to deal with a clogged bathtub drain. While it might get a little messy, reaching into the drain and pulling out any foreign material, or clumps of hair that’s stuck inside, could fix a clogged bathtub drain pretty easily. 

Most foreign particles that are clogging the drain are visible if inspected closely with a flashlight, and if you do see one, something simple like a small crowbar, or wire coat hanger which is an everyday item that could be used to pull out the mess from the drain hole. Straighten the long end of the wire coat hanger, forming a small curve at the end, and stick that inside the clogged drain to pull out any debris causing the problem. A pair of tongs or tweezers could be used in a similar way to grab and pull out some of the mess that’s inside the drain hole that’s causing the clog.

Step 2. Use Plumbing Tools

 Secondly, there are several plumbing tools we all have at home that are effective in unclogging a drain. Things like plungers and zip-it tools are super easy-to-use tools that unclog bathtub drains most of the time. 

You could also use a plunger to create suction by pushing it in and out repeatedly for 30-40 seconds which might dislodge the clog, allowing water to pass through. However, using a plunger only works if the problem is at your drain trap, anything further below will require additional effort.

Drain Snake and Auger are other useful tools that pull the clog out from drain holes. To use Drain Snake/Auger, insert the head of the snake inside the clogged drain and twist until the hook latches onto the waste that’s accumulated inside, causing the clog. However, it’s important that you wear safety equipment like goggles and gloves to make sure you don’t get splashed in places you don’t want.

 If that doesn’t work, a wet vacuum could be used to suck the clog out from its source.

Step 3. Use Natural Methods

Apart from tools, there are some home-ready natural remedies to unclog drain naturally. These ideas might not always be effective in unclogging severely blocked drains, but it’s best to give these a shot.

One of the best homemade solutions to a clogged bathtub drain is a combination of Baking Soda and Vinegar. The acid-base reaction in these common household items helps to unclog the drain while breaking down the clog into smaller pieces.

Many plumbers also suggest using boiling water with Salt or Detergent to be effective when it comes to unclogging bathtub drains at home when you’re in a hurry. Just pour some salt or soap on the clogged drain and top it off with a pot of boiling water to allow things to dissolve and flow away. However, if these don’t work for you, you’d better pull out the big guns.

Step 4. Use Chemical Cleaners

Using chemical drain cleaners is not very different from using natural cleaners but proper safety and caution must be maintained while dealing with these corrosive chemicals using natural methods. You pour the chemical of your choice into the drain and wait until it starts breaking down the material that is causing the clog. There are Caustic drain cleaners, Acidic cleaners, and oxidizing cleaners which pretty much work the same way.

Ready-to-use chemical drain cleaners like Drano and Green Gobbler are easy to use. The heat generated by these chemical drain cleaners breaks down hair, grease, soap scum, and other materials to unclog your drain. Using these chemicals every once in a while could reduce the chances of clogs happening anytime soon.

Preventive Measures for Bathtub Drain Clogging

There are various ways you could prevent your bathtub drain from clogging.  Here are some easy-to-do preventive measures you could adopt to make sure your bathtub drain doesn’t clog ever again.  

  1. Prevent Hair Buildup:  You could always be extra-cautious and not let hair and other foreign objects go down the drain by occasionally cleaning out and removing these things yourself.
  2. Hot water flush: Hot water flush is another efficient method for limiting deposits in your plumbing. All you need to do is pour a pot of hot water down your drain holes once a week, to allow deposited waste to flow which will increase the lifespan of your pipes.
  3. Use a strainer: Whether it’s your bathtub or your sink, using a drain screen or a strainer minimizes the risk of clogged drains by trapping waste right at the surface of your tub or sink. Using a strainer to prevent unwanted objects from traveling down your bathtub drain hole is a very effective method to avoid clogs that would otherwise occur frequently with regular usage of the bathtub. 
  4. Avoid common mistakes: Avoiding common mistakes is important when it comes to drains and sinks. Making sure no foreign objects are lodged in the drain holes is necessary so you don’t have to spend a fortune later on plumbing charges.

When to Call for Professional Help

Clogs and leaks in bathroom fittings aren’t always easy to fix. When home solutions and simple plumbing tools don’t work, it’s about time you pull out the big guns and call in plumbers to do the job for you. Plumbers deal with drain clogs, leaking or burst pipes, and other plumbing issues daily. If you can’t help yourself with your clogged drain, it’s always a good idea to call in plumbers who can do the job for you for a certain fee. 

Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Water Cleanup deals specifically with bathtub drain clogs among other plumbing issues. We are equipped with best-in-line tools and machinery, paired with professionals with multiple years of experience in the field to provide you with drain cleaning services

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Roto-Rooter CA if you encounter the following signs of a clogged bathtub drain: 

  1. The clogs in your sinks and drains are present frequently.
  2. If you have multiple clogs or leakage at once.
  3. If the cleaners and tools available at home aren’t effective
  4. If you do not have any experience or don’t want to get your hands dirty