Ways To Clear A Clogged Bathtub Drain For A Home Owner
Drain clogs take a long time to develop. Once they do they can cost you time and money to fix, but many people are unaware that there are more safe and less costly solutions than a bottle of drain cleaner, or hiring a professional. The culprits are usually hair, scum, and soap, but with a little know-how, you can learn how to fix a clogged bathtub drain.
First, check if your drain is completely clogged. If the water still drains down, albeit slowly, you can often rid yourself of the problem simply by running hot water for five minutes. Often, water alone is enough to dislodge the hairballs and dirt. Pour a cup of salt, followed by boiling water. This method usually unplugs anything except metal or plastic, as the water takes the clog/ build-up with it.
If using a plunger, a more efficient method, use a rag to stuff the overflow plate. If you have difficulty or the overflow plate itself has build-up lodged around it, remove it and its components, and wash thoroughly. Then stuff the hole. Push water down the drain with the plunger. This should push the clog on through. You can then screw the cover plate back onto the bathtub. You can also plunge the drain, and the rag in the overflow hole will prevent the suction from escaping out it. If you see the clog, try to pull it out.
If this does not work, you have more methods to try. Unwind a coat hanger and insert it into the bathtub drain. You can use any other flexible wire that is strong enough to push the clog through. Jiggle the wire back and forth and push it as far as it will go to dislodge whatever is blocking your drain. Another option is getting into the drain pipe through the overflow hole.
If you have tried everything and are still unsuccessful, try a plumbers stake. It is also known as a cable auger. Place the tip into the drain hole and push as far as you can. After you have tightened the binding screw on the snake and twisted, the tip will take hold of the clog. Plumbers stakes are inexpensive and very efficient: they can bend as they work their way along drainpipes and can reach a couple feet.
After you have exhausted these options, your next best bet would be a chemical drain cleaner, which can reach deeper than the other methods mentioned. They are widely available and come in many types and brands. The chemicals used are dangerous when they come in contact with water or other chemicals, and are also caustic. So remember to use gloves and wear protective glasses and do not forget to read the instructions. Do not use them if your tub is backed up. After half an hour, run hot water.
If all fails, your clog is likely too deep down for home methods to reach, and you should call a plumber. This will likely be expensive and time consuming, so if the clog is not deeper than 3 feet, these solutions might be more viable.
Of course prevention is the always the best option. Make sure the grate is in place and clean the drain hole often, and it is recommended you remove it entirely to clear it of scum trapped in the screen and directly under it. But if you do need a quick fix for a clogged bathtub drain, try these simple solutions.