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Clearing a Clogged Bathtub Drain

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If your bathtub isn't draining well it can be a problem for taking baths and being able to use your bathroom properly. Getting the drain clear will make your bathtub, and bathroom in general, easier to use. This is a page about clearing a clogged bathtub drain.
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We recently paid a plumber $95 to clean a clogged bathtub drain. All our home remedy tips did not free the clog. In fact, we even had to have them get the "snake" that we had used out of the drain because it was lodged in and we couldn't get it to move. He shared a tip that will help keep drains clear.

The problem we had was that hair had clogged it up. He said to pour a half gallon of Clorox in there once a month to keep it flushed. He also said never to use those liquid drain cleaners in a situation like this because they would just stop at the blocked up place and make the situation worse.

By Sandy from Elon, NC

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January 15, 2009

If drain cleaners are not working in a shower or bathtub drain, the problem might be higher up.

The shower drain in my long-haired teenage daughter's bathroom was plugged so badly she ended up standing in water up to her ankles when she took a shower. I tried all kinds of drain cleaners, to no avail. Then one day, I took the grate off the top of the drain so that I could look down with a flashlight and possibly see something. What a surprise: I could only see a couple of inches down! The crossbars in the pipe, like a plus sign about two inches down, were completely covered with hair!



I used needle-nose pliers to pull out a wad of long hairs as thick as my thumb, that was draped over the crossbars, hanging down like a fringe, almost completely blocking the pipe where drain cleaners had no effect.

By Mary from Hummeltwown, PA

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For slow drains in old houses, pour a bottle of bleach down the tub drain once a month in the evening. In the morning, heat up a tea kettle and pour one gallon of water down the drain.

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I was so happy to find these handy tools at Lowe's. No more using wire to unclog the bathroom sink, and the cute little bathtub plunger, was so colorful to pass up!

Tools For Unclogging the Bathtub

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33 Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

October 6, 2013

I have a clogged shower and my toilet drains into the shower. I ran a snake down into the shower and it felt like it was coming out the vent. I ran a hose into the vent and the water came into the shower. Can someone please help?

By Ernster

Answers

October 7, 20130 found this helpful

I would try pouring about 1/4 cup of dawn dish detergent down the drain and let it sit for 15 minutes then follow it with a kettle of hot water and then do a little plunging.

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October 7, 20130 found this helpful

I had a similar problem, finally called the plumber. There were tree roots getting into the sewer line, he cleared them out.

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December 27, 2012

When we recently found that the water in my bathtub was not draining. I discovered that the lever from the overflow cover was broken. I replaced the bathtub overflow cover unit with a new one.

When I completed the replacement, I tested the water in the tub for drainage and the bathtub drained just fine. When I pressed the lever one direction, it drained and when pushed the other direction, it blocked. Two days later the tub will not drain. I removed the newly installed cap and pulled the whole unit that's connected to it out of the overflow pipe, which had a metal cylinder-like tube at the end. I then tried plunging the drain opening on the tub floor, but the water simply came up the overflow pipe out the cover opening back into the tub. It would seem to me that there is more than just dirt as an impediment, but I suspect some part of the system that may be lodged blocking the outflow. Any suggestions what it may be and what can be done to remedy this?

By Joe

Answers

December 27, 20120 found this helpful

I have had to plunge the bathtub also from time to time. You have to cover any other openings when you plunge the bathtub or the plunger wont work very well. I wish I had more to advise than this!

Blessings and good luck on the bathtub!

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December 31, 20121 found this helpful

We had that problem too. We snaked the bathroom tub, sink, & stool so many times. The answer came to us when we had to replace the stool. We found a plumber in the yellow pages. Got some good recommendations. They came and snaked the stack! You have to go on the roof for that.

If you can access the stack, rent as big a plumber's snake as possible and to the job yourself. Be sure to ask the rental agency lots of questions, they want their equipment back in good shape too. Be sure to clean the snaket off too. That is just plain common courtesy. You will save lots of little tub snaking jobs in the future.

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November 19, 2013

I need to know if my problem is a pipe clog or a septic problem. The tub fills only to flow from under the toilet and therefore floods the bathroom.

By Amy

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November 20, 20130 found this helpful

Since no one has answered yet, I'll take a guess. You might have a leak somewhere under the tub, or even a hairline crack if your tub is fiberglass. The water flows to the lowest point first, this being under your toilet, then proceeds to flood the floor. Sorry I am no better help than this.

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November 24, 20130 found this helpful

Hopefully, you have called a plumber on this. There are many reasons for such situations, but it is not something one fixes oneself. You are always better to report the symptoms to the professional, and let them figure out how to fix the problem.

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November 29, 20130 found this helpful

You want to know whether it's a drain clog or a septic problem. If some of your drains are working it's not a septic problem, it's a blockage where the drain from the tub joins the drain from the toilet, or just below that. In that case, water from the tub can back up toward the toilet. There's a wax seal between the toilet and the floor, and if that seal is not perfect, then water backing up to the toilet will leak onto the floor.

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April 6, 2011

In my bathroom the face basin and toilet drains properly, but the bathtub does not, it drains outside of my house. I ran a snake in the pipe and that did not help, what can I do?

By lovell from Houston, TX

Answers

April 7, 20110 found this helpful

Did you try 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar close the drain tightly, let stand for 30 minutes, and pour one gallon hot bubbling water.

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April 10, 20110 found this helpful

Try putting 1 cup baking soda in drain. Follow with either 1 cup salt OR 1 cup vinegar. Finish with 1 cup boiling water. If you run out of liquid before all the soda and/or salt is down, you can push it along with a little extra vinegar or boiling water. Wait at least 1 hour before using drain.

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What is the best way to clean a tub drain?

By Barbara Leviton from FL

Answers

July 28, 20100 found this helpful

My plumber told me to use a half cup of bleach in each drain. Let it sit overnight and then in the morning run hot water, especially good on the kitchen (grease). It also is good removing soap gunk in the bath drain. But if you have a clog from roots or even hair, you need to snake the drain.

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July 28, 20100 found this helpful

A tub drain often has hair stuck in it. Pry off the cover and reach in with something like an old toothbrush to snag out the hair and accumulated soap gunk. Hopefully, this glob of hair and whatnot is all that is causing your drain to be sluggish.

I have found that Drano crystals are very effective for dissolving accumulated hair and soap scum.

I don't put any faith in the baking soda and vinegar treatment, as all that does is create air bubbles in the drain. Pouring coke down the drain would also put bubbles in the drain. Why would that work? I know people swear by it, but I just don't believe it! I suspect that baking soda and hot water would help in a kitchen drain, as it would react chemically with grease build up. Drain cleaners are strong bases; baking soda is a mild base -- the chemical reaction would be the same, only not as strong.

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February 17, 2010

I need to unclog a tub drain that has sheet rock pieces in it. The tub is stopped up.

By Linda

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January 16, 2014

My bathtub has a self close stopper. I took off the little thing connected to a chain that went down in the pipe to open and close the drain. When I did the tub got slower and slower to drain. Is there something dropped down in the pipe that is keeping water from draining out of the bathtub?

By Shelia

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August 26, 2013

I use a product called Thrift (this product is recommended by plumbers) to unclog drains. After standing in water in the bathtub, I used the product with no results. Any suggestions will be appreciated. I need to avoid plumber cost.

By CAROLYN

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August 17, 2017

A natural solution for clearing a drain is using vinegar, baking soda, and boiling water. While effective on moderate drain clogs, you must make sure all of the baking soda is flushed from your drain or it can create an even worse clog when it dries and becomes hard.

A jar of baking soda and a bottle of vinegar.

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November 3, 2009

I have a slow kitchen drain. Anyone have any tips for unclogging it? I know I've seen answers to this in the newsletters but I can't find where I filed them.

- Linne Dodds

Answers:

Drain Cleaning

Mix 1 c. salt and 1 c. baking soda, pour down drain followed by 1 c. vinegar. It will boil and bubble, cleaning out the drain. When all the bubbling stops follow up with a lot of hot water. Hope this helps. (05/10/2001)

By Connie

Drain Cleaning

The best kitchen drain cleaner I've ever used is: 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup baking soda sprinkled into the drain; pour 1/2 cup vinegar over it and let sit for about 15 minutes. Pour boiling water (I usually just use hot tap water) over it for several minutes. This flushes the drain nicely, removes grease and/or hair buildup, and keeps the drain open for a long, long time. Even my husband was impressed with how effective it is! (05/10/2001)

By Jennifer

Drain Cleaning

Using a septic tank treatment in the drain every month will keep it cleared out. If you have a disposer use the rubber plug that came with it to stop up the non disposer side, then fill the disposer side with water. Hold the plug in the non disposer side down firmly and turn the disposer on. The disposer will turn into a water pump and force the clog out. (07/05/2005)

By Jeff

Drain Cleaning

Baking soda and hot water, or simply boiling water are often enough to clean the sink.

When you use baking soda and vinegar together, they bubble and create CO2, but they don't react with the grease in the clog. Products such as Drano are a strong base, and they react with the grease in the clog and dissolve it (base+grease=soap). Baking soda is a milder base, and so will work in the same way. (01/05/2009)

By Louise B.

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