How To Clean Your Bathtub Drain When It Is Slow To Empty

If your bathtub drain is getting slower and slower to empty, a hair clog could be to blame. You want to take action and clean out the drain before it backs up completely. It's generally not a good idea to use chemical drain cleaners in a bathtub, since they may just back up into the tub and leave a mess to clean up. Here are some things you can try before you call the plumber.

Test All Drains

First, check all the other drains in your home as well as the toilet. If they all drain as fast as usual, then you know the problem is confined to your tub and is most likely hair. However, if your toilet is also slow to empty, your sewer line may be clogged. You definitely want to clean out a clogged sewer line as soon as possible, or waste could back up into your tub if the clog gets bad enough. If your sewer line is the problem, you may not be able to clear the clog yourself. If the clog is just in your bathtub drain, then try some of the tricks below.

Pull Out The Clog

Remove the stopper from your tub and look down the drain with the help of a flashlight. You may or may not be able to see a big wad of hair. If you can see it, you might be able to fish it out with needle nose pliers or a wire hanger. If you can't see the clog, you can try passing a wire deeper into the drain to see if it will catch the hair and pull it out. You can buy an inexpensive plastic device at the home improvement store that is made to do this job. It is a long piece of plastic with zipper teeth on the side that catches hairs when you feed it into your drain and twist it around. Pull out as much hair and soap scum as you can and see if your drain empties faster.

Force The Clog On Through

If your drain is still slow, you can try to use a plunger. It may be tricky to get a tight seal on your tub. You may need to unscrew the overflow plate so you can stuff a washcloth inside to block it. Another idea is to place duct tape around the overflow plate to keep air from escaping when you use the plunger. Plunging won't work unless you can get a tight seal, because this forces pressure through the drain rather than up through the overflow opening.

Try Baking Soda And Vinegar

You probably don't want to use dangerous chemicals in a bathtub drain, but you can try using baking soda and vinegar since they are nontoxic. Pour some baking soda directly into the drain and then pour in some vinegar. The two combine to form a foaming solution that scrubs the sides of your drain. When the foaming stops, flush the solution on through the pipe by pouring boiling water down the drain. This method will help dissolve soap scum that may be clogging your drain and holding onto hair.

If these methods don't work to clean your drain, you may need to call in a plumber like one from DBR Plumbing. You should be able to get an affordable flat rate for cleaning out a single drain. Once your drain is clean, you should consider using a mesh drain guard, so hair can't slide in and clog the drain up again.


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