How to Unclog a Shower Drain
If you’ve been noticing a funky odour wafting from your shower drain, or if water seems to be pooling over your ankles as you enjoy your morning shower, you probably have a clogged shower drain. This is often a minor issue—one that you may be able to fix with a few common household items.
Try these three approaches to get things flowing again:
Unclog the Shower Drain Manually
The best way to unclog a shower drain is to remove the obstruction—which is usually a mysterious glob of hair, oils, and debris—by pulling it out entirely. To begin, remove the drain cover (if possible) and shine a flashlight into the drain to see if there is a visible clog.
If the clog is near the surface, use your disposable-gloved hand or a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove it. (A strong stomach is highly recommended if using these methods!)
If you can see the drain clog, but cannot reach it with your hand, a wire clothes hanger may do the trick:
- Use wire cutters to cut the wire hanger at the juncture to the right of the hook.
- Bend the wire until it’s one straight, long unit with the rounded hook at the top, which will be your handle.
- Alternatively, you can grasp the wire hanger with one hand, and using your other hand, begin turning the hook to untwist the wire. Straighten until you have one long piece of wire.
- Measure about ¼ to ½ inch from the bottom end and use needle-nose pliers to pinch the end into a very small hook.
- Gently lower and guide the end with the small hook into the shower drain and work it around until you feel resistance.
- Once you can feel the mass, rotate the hook and gently tug to grasp the clog and pull it up. You may need to repeat this step a few times to remove the whole thing.
If the drain clog is beyond the reach of your nifty clothes-hanger tool, a hand-snake can be purchased at your local hardware store. (Prices range from about $10 for a simple version to $30 or $50 for a crank device that has a longer range.) Follow manufacturer directions to guide the device into the drain and remove the clog.
Unclog the Shower Drain Using Simple Kitchen Ingredients
If you prefer a more passive approach that keeps your hands clean and spares your senses, you can try a few homemade potions. These may work to loosen or dissolve a minor clog and blissfully send it to its final resting place:
- Pour ½ to 1 cup of liquid dish soap directly into the drain. Wait 20-30 minutes. Flush with very hot water. (You may want to boil 2-3 quarts of water to use for maximum benefit.)
- Baking soda and vinegar, a safe alternative to harsh chemicals, is another tried-and-true method for unclogging your shower drain. Pour 1 cup baking soda into the drain, immediately followed by 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. Cover the drain with a bathtub plug or rubber stopper and wait for 20-30 minutes. Again, flush with hot or boiling water to dislodge the clog.
- Believe it or not, a liter of fizzy cola dumped down the drain followed by hot water sometimes does the trick, too.
Unclogging Shower Drains Through Standing Water
If there’s standing water in the shower or tub, use a plunger to partially unclog the shower drain so that the standing water goes down. Place the plunger head firmly over the drain, covering it entirely. Push the plunger rapidly up and down five to 10 times, wait a moment, then repeat. Once the water has receded, you can try one or more of the above methods to unclog the drain.
Hire a Professional Plumber
Hopefully, using one or more of these techniques will unclog your shower drain, but if you’re still having trouble, or if—like many of us—you simply don’t have the time to do it yourself, get your flow back by contacting your local Mr. Rooter at (855) 591-0128 You can also request an estimate online!
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