How to Fix a Clogged Shower Drain

Clogs in your shower drain are annoying, but with the right tools, should be relatively easy to fix – depending on the nature of the clog. In most cases, if the water in your shower drain is not draining properly it’s due to a buildup of hair, dirt and grease. This is especially a problem in households where one or more residents have long hair.

There is a lot of information out there about how to fix a clog, but some of it can actually cause more harm than good. These are the top three tips we frequently see that that we don’t recommend:

  1. Pouring boiling water down the drain. This can actually deform some PVC fittings.
  2. Trying a mix of baking soda and vinegar. One trick you may have come across involves pouring baking soda, then vinegar down the drain. This can cause a gas to form that is dangerous if inhaled. It also essentially creates an acid, which can harm metal fittings.
  3. Using chemicals. While chemicals can be a quick and effective way of clearing a clog, most homes have metal piping which can be destroyed by exposure to chemicals.

Now here a few tried-and-true methods that we do recommend to remove a clog:

Fill the tub with hot water. For less serious clogs, try filling the bathtub with hot water and then letting it fully drain. The hot water may be enough to break up a minor clog.

Use a plunger. In some cases, a plunger might be able to get the job done, depending on the nature of the clog, and how far down the pipe it’s located. In many cases, you will need to remove the trip waste lever or overflow cap. Then, wet a rag and push it into the trip waste or overflow pipe and plunge away. This will create a seal allowing the plunger to work properly. Otherwise the plunger will just push water up and out of the trip waste / overflow.

Pull it out by hand or with a hook. If the clog is caused by a buildup of hair, you may be able to fish it out by using your fingers (put on gloves first) or by using a metal hook. First, remove the drain cover and reach in with your fingers and see if you can locate and remove the clog. If it’s out of reach, take a clothes hanger and bend it to fasten a hook and see if you can use that to draw out the clog. A mechanics grabber works great as well, if you have one handy.

Use a drain snake. If the clothes hanger hook or grabber isn’t long enough to reach the clog, try using a drain snake, also called a plumber’s snake. Start by pushing the end of the snake into the drain opening and turn the handle on the drum. This will send the snake down the drain. Keep turning the handle until you encounter resistance, which means you’ve probably reached the clog. Rotate the snake, using the tip of it to chop up the clog. If it is a large clump of hair, the snake may get tangled in it. In that case, simply pull the drain snake back out and the clog will likely come with along for the ride.

Call a drain specialist. In some cases, none of these methods may work to remove a clog. It could be because the clog is wound too tightly in the drain, or because it is caused by a buildup of minerals in the pipe. Whatever the case, the drain experts at EcoClean can remove the clog and restore normal water flow in your shower.