How to Unclog a Shower Drain and Keep It Clean

Dealing with a clogged shower drain is something every homeowner faces eventually. Learning how to tackle this issue is essential knowledge, as it can save you money and the hassle of waiting for a plumber.

Clogs usually occur due to the buildup of soap scum, skin, and long hair, which gradually accumulate in the pipes, restricting water flow. Here’s a simple guide to help you handle different types of clogs effectively.

Identifying the Cause of the Clog

The primary culprits behind a clogged shower drain are soap scum, skin particles, and long hair. These substances accumulate in the pipes over time, causing blockages that lead to slow drainage or standing water in your shower.

Removing Hair from the Drain

Hair is a common cause of clogs. If you notice your drain cover has screws, remove them with a screwdriver. If not, gently pry off the strainer. Check for hair obstructions.

You can use rubber gloves to pull out the hair manually or a wire hanger to reach further into the pipe and dislodge the clog.

After removing the hair, replace the drain cover and check if the water flows freely.

Unclogging a Drain with Standing Water

If your shower has standing water, the plunger method works well. Use a dedicated drain plunger to avoid contamination. Place the plunger over the drain, ensuring a tight seal, and move it up and down to create suction.

This action should pull out the hair clog or other blockages. Alternatively, you can try store-bought drain cleaners.

Follow the product instructions and give it enough time to work. If these methods don’t improve water flow, consider using a drain snake or auger for a more thorough cleaning.

How to Naturally Unclog a Shower Drain

When facing a clogged shower drain, many people seek natural remedies like using white vinegar and baking soda. However, these methods might not be as effective as they seem. While they can help maintain a clear drain when used regularly, they often fall short in clearing an existing clog.

Use professional tools, such as a drain auger, which can handle tough clogs lurking beneath your shower floor. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use an auger to unclog your shower drain effectively:

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies Before you start, make sure you have an auger, a screwdriver, rubber gloves, safety glasses, and a drop cloth on hand.

Step 2: Prepare the Drain Remove the drain screen by unscrewing it with a screwdriver or gently prying it off, depending on its design.

Step 3: Feed the Auger Insert the coiled end of the auger into the drain until you feel resistance on the other end.

Step 4: Operate the Auger Hold the auger handle with one hand and turn the drum clockwise with your other hand. Adjust the thumb screw or trigger to release more coil, allowing it to work down the drain.

Step 5: Dislodge the Clog Continue turning the auger until you feel the resistance lessen, indicating that you’ve likely dislodged the clog.

Step 6: Retrieve the Clog Turn the handle counter-clockwise to slowly pull out the coil (and hopefully the hair clog) from the drain. Be gentle to avoid damaging your pipes.

Step 7: Test the Drainage Run warm or hot water to check if the drainage has improved. If not, repeat the process until the drain flows freely.

How to Minimize Mess When Unclogging a Shower Drain:

To prevent a messy cleanup while unclogging your shower drain, careful preparation is key. Before you start, gather your supplies and add a few extra rags, a drop cloth to protect your shower floor and a bucket for holding dirty tools. When tackling the clog, proceed slowly and with caution.

Rushing may fling debris around, leading to a more extensive cleanup, especially if you have glass shower doors. Take your time to work methodically and avoid creating additional mess.

When to Call a Professional Plumber

Before attempting to unclog the drain yourself, visually inspect the area. If you suspect your pipes are old and possibly corroded, or if you notice rust debris, it’s wise to seek professional help.

Similarly, if your attempts with an auger fail to dislodge the clog after a few tries, there might be a more significant issue, such as tree roots or foreign objects blocking the drain. In such cases, professional assistance is recommended.

Preventing Shower Drain Clogs

While you can’t entirely prevent clogs, there are proactive steps you can take to minimize their occurrence:

  1. Dealing with Hard Water: Hard water, rich in minerals like calcium and iron, can contribute to buildup in your pipes. Consider installing a water softening system to mitigate this issue and protect your plumbing and sewer lines.
  2. Hair Management: Hair is a common culprit in drain clogs. Use a drain strainer to catch hair and small objects before they go down the drain. Regularly clean the strainer to maintain its effectiveness. Additionally, brush your hair before showering to minimize loose hair ending up in the drain.
  3. Preventing Natural Buildup: Although white vinegar and baking soda might not clear existing clogs, using them preventatively can help. Mix equal parts vinegar and baking soda, pour it down the drain, and let it sit for an hour to dissolve potential buildup. Follow up by rinsing with warm or hot water. Regular maintenance can keep your pipes clearer and reduce the likelihood of clogs.

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