A blocked bathtub drain can be a frustrating problem to deal with. If your bathtub is not draining properly, there are several ways to fix the problem, each with its own set of pros and cons. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common methods for clearing a blocked bathtub drain, including baking soda and vinegar, drain hair removal tools, plunging, and more.
Why Do Bathtub Drains Get Blocked?
Bath plugs can get blocked for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common causes include:
One of the most common causes of blocked bathtub drains is hair. Hair can easily get caught in the drain, creating a blockage that can slow or stop the flow of water.
Soap scum can build up in the drain over time, creating a blockage that can slow or stop the flow of water.
Foreign objects such as toys, jewellery, and other small items can accidentally get washed down the drain and get caught, creating a blockage.
Improper Drain Installation
Improper drain installation can lead to blockages, as debris can easily get caught in the pipes.
Dirt and Debris
Depending on what job you do, dirt and debris can easily accumulate in the bathtub drain. For example, construction workers, mechanics, or other individuals who work with a lot of dirt and debris may bring it home on their clothing or shoes and accidentally wash it down the drain, causing blockages. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the drain can help prevent this type of blockage, as well as being mindful of the amount of dirt and debris that is brought into the home.
Note: It may be helpful to have a separate area to change out of work clothes or shoes before entering the bathroom to reduce the amount of dirt and debris that enters the home.
7 Ways to Unblock a Bathtub Drain
If you are in a bit of a pickle and your bathtub is not draining properly, you can use one of our ideas below to help you clear the problem. You may need to use one or two of these methods together to ensure the plughole is fully clear and working as it should.
Method 1: Baking Soda and Vinegar
This method involves mixing baking soda and vinegar to create a chemical reaction that can break up and remove blockages in the drain.
- To use this method, start by pouring a cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow this with a cup of white vinegar. The mixture will bubble and fizz, breaking up any blockages in the drain.
- After 15 minutes, flush the drain with hot water to remove any remaining debris.
Method 2: Drain Hair Removal Tools
This method involves using a tool specifically designed to remove hair and other debris from drains. Drain hair removal tools (Amazon link – opens in a new tab) come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be purchased at Amazon.
To use this method, insert the tool into the drain and use it to remove any hair and debris that may be blocking the drain.
Method 3: Plunging
Plunging is a simple and effective method for clearing a blocked bathtub drain. To use this method, fill the tub with enough water to cover the plunger. Place the plunger over the plughole and press down firmly. Release the pressure and repeat several times.
The suction created by the plunger (amazon link – opens in anew tab) can help to break up and remove blockages in the drain.
Method 4: Chemical Drain Cleaners
Chemical drain cleaners are a common method for clearing blocked bathtub drains. These chemicals are designed to break down and dissolve blockages in the drain. To use this method, simply pour the chemical cleaner down the drain and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Important: Be careful when using chemical drain cleaners, as they can be harmful to your health and the environment if not used properly.
Method 5: Removing the Trap (Waste)
The trap is a curved pipe located under the bathtub that prevents sewer gases from entering the home. Sometimes blockages can occur in this pipe, which can be cleared by removing and cleaning the trap.
- To remove the trap, locate the point where the pipe connects to the bathtub and use a pipe wrench to loosen and remove the trap.
- Be sure to have a bucket or spill tray handy to catch any water that may spill out. Clean the trap thoroughly and reattach it, making sure it is tightened securely.
Method 6: Drain Snaking
Drain snaking is a method that involves the use of a long and flexible rod-like tool called a Drain Snake. It is inserted into the plughole to break up and remove blockages. To use this method, insert the snake into the drain, making sure to push it through any blockages. Then, turn the handle of the snake to break up and remove any clogs. Be careful not to force the snake too hard as it can damage pipes. If you encounter resistance, try to gently move the snake back and forth to clear the blockage.
We have written instructions on how to use a drain snake for you too!
Method 7: Professional Plumbing Services
If all else fails, you may need to call in a professional plumber. They have the necessary tools and experience to clear even the toughest blockages and will be able to diagnose and fix any underlying issues that may be causing the blockage.
Clearing a blocked bathtub drain can be done in a variety of ways, from using household items like baking soda and vinegar to specialised tools like drain hair removal tools to calling in a professional plumber. Each method has its own set of pros and cons, and the best method for you will depend on the severity of the blockage and your own personal preferences. Remember to use caution when working with plumbing and always be sure to call a professional if you encounter any problems or are unsure about how to proceed.
Plumbing Wizard Tips
“Removing the trap is the most effective solution but that means removing the bath panel and getting underneath!”
“In future, use a drain cover (amazon link – opens in a new tab). Drain covers can be used to prevent hair and other debris from entering the drain, which can help to prevent blockages!”
“If you do not have a drain snake, you can use an old-style wire coat hanger. Straighten out the hanger and bend the end to create a hook. Push the hook into the drain and try to remove any debris that may be blocking the drain. Be careful not to damage the pipes!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use baking soda and vinegar to clear a blocked bathtub drain?
Yes, baking soda and vinegar is a very common DIY solution for clearing drains. The chemical reaction will fizz and bubble clearing any soap scum and build-up in the process.
What is a plumbing snake?
A plumbing snake is a long, flexible rod that can be inserted into the drain to break up and remove blockages.
Can I use a plunger to clear a blocked bathtub drain?
Yes, plunging is an effective method for clearing blockages in the bathtub drain. To use this method, fill the tub with enough water to cover the plunger, place the plunger over the drain, and press down firmly. Release the pressure and repeat it several times. The suction created by the plunger can help to break up and remove blockages in the drain.
What are some common tools that can be used to clear a blocked bathtub drain?
Some common tools that can be used to clear a blocked bathtub drain include a plumbing snake, a pair of pliers, a bucket, a wire hanger, a plunger, a commercial drain unblocker, and a drain cover.
How can I prevent blockages in my bathtub drain?
One way to prevent blockages in your bathtub drain is by using a drain cover. A drain cover is a simple device that can be placed over the drain to prevent hair and other debris from entering the drain. This can help to reduce the amount of debris that can cause blockages. Additionally, it can be helpful to regularly remove and clean the drain cover to ensure that it is functioning properly.
Should I call a professional plumber if I have a blocked bathtub drain?
If you are unable to clear the blockage yourself, or if you are unsure about how to proceed, it may be best to call a professional plumber. They have the necessary tools and experience to clear even the toughest blockages and will be able to diagnose and fix any underlying issues that may be causing the blockage.
Can I use a chemical drain cleaner to clear a blocked bathtub drain?
Yes, chemical drain cleaners can be used to clear blocked bathtub drains, but it is important to use caution when working with these chemicals as they can be harmful if not used properly. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and be sure to wear gloves and safety goggles to protect yourself.
Lee Pearce is not just a master plumber; he’s a veritable Plumbing Wizard. With over 30 years of experience in the trenches of pipes and drains, Lee has become the go-to sage for DIY plumbing, saving homeowners thousands in potential call-out charges. As the founder of Plumbing Wizard, he’s dedicated to demystifying the complexities of home plumbing, offering easy-to-follow advice that stands the test of time and pressure. His online blog is a treasure trove of tips, tricks, and tutorials that empower everyday individuals to take charge of their home’s plumbing health. Lee’s practical wisdom is not just about fixing leaks; it’s about imparting confidence and self-reliance. When he’s not writing or elbow-deep in a plumbing project, Lee is passionate about educating the next generation of DIYers, ensuring that practical skills are passed down and preserved.