How to Unclog a Shower Drain with a Plunger

Shower drain clogs can happen to anyone at any time. Hair, soap scum, and an accumulation of small items can cause a clog in no time. The best thing you can do is to take care of a clogged shower drain as soon as possible. Nobody likes to have standing water gathering around their ankles during their morning shower, but more importantly, drain clogs only become worse over time and can cause serious, costly damage.

POPULAR REMEDIES FOR UNCLOGGING A DRAIN

Many homeowners reach for the generic drain cleaning products when their shower backs up. Plumbing snakes have also become very popular with homeowners because they can help to reach whatever is clogging the drain so the homeowner can easily dispose of it. However, when it comes to a bad clog that needs to be addressed right away, there is nothing like a plunger to get the job done right.

TRUST THE PLUNGER TO SAVE THE DAY

Drain cleaning products, or natural remedies including baking soda and vinegar, can prove to be helpful in clearing away a pesky clog. However, if no drain cleaning products seem to be working, then the plunger can save the day. A plunger will force pressurized water in both directions, which will help to effectively loosen whatever is clogging your shower drain.

THE PROPER PLUNGING TECHNIQUE

  • Carefully remove the overflow plate by removing the two screws holding it down. Once you have removed the screws, you can gently remove the overflow plate and drain mechanism at the same time.
  • Inspect the interior of the drain to see if you can locate and remove the source of the clog.
  • In order to plunge most effectively, stop up your shower’s overflow opening with a wet rag because it will ensure that the force exerted by the plunger will remain only on the source of the clog.
  • Fill the shower with a small amount of water, just enough to cover the bottom of the plunger.
  • Begin plunging with a forceful upward and downward movement. Most clogs only require about six good plunging rhythms.
  • Lift up the plunger to see if the water is draining away quickly.
  • If the water is not draining quickly, plunge again.

USE A PLUNGER FOR CLOGGED SHOWER DRAINS

Learning how to unclog a shower drain can be as simple as plunging the drain. If you have a plunger at home, it can be a great way to fix a clogged shower drain among other drains in your home.

  1. Plunge the drain with a sink plunger. A sink plunger is different from a toilet plunger and has a shallow red rubber cup and a shorter handle than a toilet plunger.
  2. To be effective, the plunger’s cup needs to be under at least an inch of water, so the best time to plunge a shower drain is when there is standing water in the shower pan.
  • Place the plunger cup over the drain to form a tight seal and plunge down once to release the air trapped in the plunger cup.
  • Grasp the plunger handle firmly and quickly pump the plunger up and down 15 to 20 times before pulling the plunger away from the drain.
  • If successful, the plunger will have pushed the clog through the pipe and you’ll see the water drain away quickly. If the water still doesn’t drain, repeat the process several more times or try the following methods.

IS IT TIME TO CALL A PLUMBER?

If all else fails, don’t wait any longer to call the plumbers. The problem will quickly become worse and if nothing else is working, then your local plumbers know what needs to be done to eliminate the clog once and for all. Addressing the issue now can prevent additional water damage from happening.

UNCLOG A SHOWER DRAIN WITH A COAT HANGER

You don’t need special tools to unclog a shower drain. You probably have what you need in your nearest closet. Using a straightened wire coat hanger can be an effective way to remove shower drain clogs.

  1. Straighten a wire coat hanger and bend one end into a hook no more than a half-inch wide.
  2. Remove the drain cover. If there are screws holding it in place, remove them and be careful not to drop the screws down the drain.
  3. Push the coat hanger hook down the drain until you hit the bottom of the trap.
  4. Twist the hanger back and forth and in a circular fashion and try to hook the clog.
  5. Carefully pull the hook up and out of the drain and shake the hair clog off into a waste basket.
  6. Repeat the process going deeper each time and adjusting the size of your hook until there is no more hair on the end of your hook.
  7. Run hot water down the drain to be sure the drain is no longer backing up.
  8. If you are unable to unclog a shower drain using this method you may want to try a plunger instead.

USE DRAIN CLEANERS FOR SHOWER DRAIN CLOGS

You can also use chemical drain cleaner products and homemade drain cleaner solutions to fix a clogged shower drain. The directions on the bottles explain how to unclog a shower drain with drain opener chemicals. As you will be working with chemicals, this method is the most hazardous and should be done as a last resort.

  1. Wear rubber gloves and wear eye protection.
  2. Carefully follow the directions on the bottle.
  3. Avoid inhaling the chemical fumes.
  4. Be patient. Caustic chemicals often require a lot of time to work effectively.

If the chemical drain opener doesn’t work and you have to call a plumber, be sure to inform him that you’ve poured chemicals into the drain and show him the bottle so he can take proper safety precautions.

MORE WAYS TO UNCLOG A SHOWER DRAIN

BOILING WATER

This is probably the simplest way to unclog a bathtub or shower drain. Simply boil water and slowly pour it down the drain. With any luck, you won't need any additional supplies or steps and you'll have a clear drain once again.

BAKING SODA AND VINEGAR (OR SALT) MIX

You can do this two different ways but they will both require equal parts of baking soda and vinegar or salt (1/2 cup each). The first method is to mix the baking soda and vinegar before pouring it down the drain. You will notice a chemical reaction taking place by a bubbling or fizzing when the two substances mix together. If you prefer, you can pour the baking soda down the drain first followed by the vinegar (or salt followed by boiling water). The mixture is a great way to remove the tough grime, grease and hair that has built up. Make sure you run hot water through the shower drain before showering again, especially if you use vinegar.

DISH DETERGENT

If your drain is still clogged, try using a thicker lubricant to loosen the built-up hair that has accumulated to block the drain. Pour 1/4 cup of your dish detergent down the drain followed by boiling water. The thick dish detergent should free the hairs from being stuck to the side of your drain and the water will rinse the rest of the unwanted gunk out, unclogging your shower drain.

ENVIRONMENTALLY-SAFE DRAIN CLEANERS

Once a month use an environmentally safe product such as Roto-Rooter Pipe Shield®, a preventive drain maintenance product that will provide a protective coating on your pipes to help prevent grime from building up in the first place.

CALL A PLUMBING PROFESSIONAL FOR CLOGGED DRAINS

Do you still have a clogged shower drain? If you've tried all the methods above and you are still fighting with a shower drain clog, it might be best to call a local plumbing professional at Roto-Rooter to help. Our trained plumbing experts are available 24/7 and can help you with all your plumbing needs, including clogged shower drains.

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Drains