Skip to main content

How Do I Snake a Bathtub Drain?

Tub drains get clogged gradually, and odds are that you’ll see your tub initially draining slower and slower before it’s completely clogged. If you can, try plunging the drain as soon as you notice it’s draining slower. Sometimes this problem can’t be avoided, however. Luckily, it’s not difficult to snake a tub drain. To clear a clogged bathtub drain, you’ll need a plumbing snake, some work gloves and some basic cleaning supplies.

Unscrew the overflow plate, which is the plate under the faucet and above the drain in the tub. Be sure to put the screws where they won’t fall into the tub drain, then pull the stopper from the drain, which should be connected to the overflow plate.

For this part, you’ll probably want some work gloves. Clean any hair and soap off of the overflow plate and the stopper mechanism. This may be the source of the clog. Run the faucet to check. If it still overflows, then you haven’t found the clog, and you’ll have to snake the drain.

To snake the drain, insert the beginning of the snake wire into the opening, and crank out about 30 inches of wire. Continue to crank and press forward into the drain until you feel the snake meet the obstruction. Twist the cable with the handle until the snake has penetrated the obstruction. Now you can crank in reverse, bringing the snake back through the drain with the clog. A clogged tub drain can get pretty messy, so have some paper towels and cleaning supplies nearby.

After disposing of the clogged hair and soap, clean off the snake, put the stopper back down the drain and screw the overflow plate back on. Run hot water down the drain for a few moments to clear any loose debris.


Is your bathtub draining abnormally slowly, or not at all? Chances are you have a clog in your line. When most people think of bathroom clogged drains, they think of toilets, but any other plumbing fixtures can clog just as easily. The challenge for homeowners is that there are many potential causes of a clog, and they can be difficult to diagnose. Depending what the clog consists of and where the clog is located, there is an appropriate method for addressing the issue. If you’re an astute DIYer, give these three tips for clearing your bathtub drain a try. If you aren’t successful, it may be time to call a Roto-Rooter professional for help.


The first step is to check for any hair or soap chips in the drain. In bathtubs, accumulated hair is the most common cause of clogs. In the drain, there is usually a trap in the drain that is easily accessible. If hair is the problem, it should be easy to spot a big chunk of it. Hair will accumulate in the drain each time someone bathes, so the drain will have to be cleaned out regularly (especially if members of the household have long hair). Usually you can tell that hair is accumulating because the tub will start to drain very slowly, so you should have the opportunity to clean it out before it becomes a total clog. If hair clogs are a recurring problem, you can purchase special drain covers designed to prevent hair from entering the drain.


You can also use a plunger in an attempt to clear the drain. Most people already have a plunger or two in their home for their toilets, but sometimes it can work in a tub (or sink!) as well. Be sure to use the proper type of plunger for the best possible results. The best way to use a plunger in a bathtub is to use a lot of force, creating a lot of pressure that can help dislodge the clog. Plungers only work on certain clogs; many times you will have to use a stronger method.


If hair isn’t the problem and a plunger won’t work, you may need to snake your bathtub line to try to draw out a clog that you can’t easily access. Snaking involves inserting a long, flexible line with blades attached down a drain and rotating it to remove any debris. Basic drain snakes, or augers, can be purchased from a home improvement store if you want to try this yourself. Because the entrance to the bathtub drain is so small, you’ll usually have to remove the overflow plate, and insert the snake there. Some snakes operate by hand, and others attach to a power drill for extra force.

If you try all of these methods on your own and none of them work, give the expert plumbers at Roto-Rooter a call. They can help you diagnose the clog, determine the severity of the problem, and get your drains flowing freely again.



Related Articles