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Why Does Your Drain Clog in the First Place?
If your drain is blocked, you need to know that there are quite a few reasons why that is the case. A clogged drain is simply a slow drain, which means it takes longer for water to go into your sewer system. For clogged toilets or kitchen sinks, a large obstruction may be the reason. However, with clogged shower drains, it is usually because of hair, lint, or residue of bath products. Just think about all the toothpaste and products that have gone down your drain since you purchased your house!
To begin with, shower drain blockages could be minor or significant depending on the cause of the blockage. Minor drain blockages are caused by accumulation of soap scum, hair, and dirt. Long hair that you shed as you shower or wash your hair mainly causes a blocked drain. However, soap worsens the situation as it makes it easier for the shed hair to stick to your drain’s walls.
As time passes by, the build-up in your shower drain keeps increasing and obstructs the passage of water, which eventually results into a drain blockage. It goes without saying that preventative measures are always better than any cure so it is better to unclog your shower drain before the situation worsens. You should also look into the situation thoroughly if your drain clogs more frequently, as this might be a sign of a more severe blockage.
How to Know if Your Shower Drain is Clogged
Do not worry if you are wondering how you can tell if your shower drain is clogged. This article contains information that will guide you through it so that you do not have to get confused. The chances are that you have already noticed some issues with your bathroom drain but probably do not know the reasons behind them. Below are some of the common indicators that you do indeed have a blocked drain.
- Your Shower Drains Slowly
If you notice that your shower drains slower than usual, it is a sign that you have a blocked drain. Due to the slower draining, water might stand in your shower for quite some time after turning off your faucet. If you have been noticing this, it is time to fix your clogged shower drain.
- Unpleasant Odour from Your Drain
An unpleasant odour coming from your drain is a further sign that your shower drain is clogged. If you have been getting a bad smell in your washroom while showering, you need to take action as soon as possible as there might be a chance that you have a blocked drain.
If you have been facing such issues, you should work fast and fix your shower drain. A severe blockage of your drain can result in your bathroom flooding or leaks developing. The stagnant water might also creep into your bathroom walls and cause further damage. Therefore, you should not make the mistake of ignoring these signs if you have been noticing them.
What to Do With a Suspect Clogged Shower Drain
Even if you have noticed the signs mentioned above, you might want to double-check before trying to solve the issue. Inspect your shower drain if you suspect that it is clogged. Below are the steps that will guide you as you carry out a drain inspection.
- Check for a Visible Obstruction
To begin with, you need to look in your drain and confirm whether there is a visible obstruction. Long clumps of hair are usually the most common culprit when it comes to blocked drains in your shower. Check thoroughly and find if there are any clumps of hair.
If you cannot see anything from outside, try to look underneath your drain cap and into your drain. It might be dark inside, so use a flashlight for a clearer view. If you come about anything that might be blocking the drain, remove it.
- Double-Check that Your Drain is Open
If there is room between your drain stopper and the pipe for water to flow, sometimes that might block the drain. The way you check if your drain is open depends on your type of stopper and drain. Some drains have a stopper that can be unscrewed and lifted out completely. There is often a switch under the faucet for bathtub showers that opens and closes the drain.
Now that you know of stoppers, check to see if your drain has any sort of stopping mechanism that might be blocking your shower drain.
How to Unclog Your Shower Drain
Typically, you do not need to reach out to a plumber to unclog your blocked drain as it is not as difficult as you think. There are some straightforward methods and tools that can quickly solve your clogged shower drain problems. If you have a clogged shower drain, below are some methods to help you deal with the issue.
- Pour Boiling Water Down the Drain
Pouring boiled water down the drain is the most common method. This is because boiling water can break down the soap holding the clog together. So, doing this will clear the blockage.
Steps to follow:
- First, boil water on your stove.
- Proceed to pour the boiling water down the drain carefully. To do so, use a funnel as it can contain the water. This will ensure that you do not ruin your expensive shower or bathtub accessories.
Note: This method might not work if you use it independently, especially if dealing with a severe blockage. However, it can partially clear the clog and do an adequate job if used with other methods.
- Use a Plunger
To determine how successful plunging will be for you, you need to know the nature of the blockage, where the clog is, and the design of your drain. You might not get enough suction if the clog is deep and composed of hair.
Steps to follow:
- Add petroleum jelly to the edge of your plunger’s suction pad in order to get a better seal.
- To submerge the end of the plunger, add water to the shower.
- Lastly, plunge vigorously. It is that simple!
Note: This method also falls under those with a low success rate when used on its own. However, it can work great when combined with other techniques. So, give it a try as the time and cost involved are minimal.
- Use Baking Soda and Vinegar
Rather than using chemical solutions, go for natural alternatives as they are much safer and cost-friendly. Baking soda and vinegar for drain cleaning is a combination that has been used for years when it comes to unclogging shower drains due to its success rate.
Steps to follow:
- First, pour a cup of baking soda down your shower drain, then wait for a couple of minutes.
- Now pour a cup of vinegar into the drain, then observe to see if the hair clogs are dissolving.
- If the clogs dissolve, clean out your shower drain by pouring boiled water down it.
Note: Even though using baking soda and vinegar is ecologically preferable and won’t cause much damage to pipes, you may still need to use chemicals.
- Take Off the Drain Cover and Pull Out the Clog Manually
This method of unclogging your shower drain has guaranteed a high success rate. However, make sure to wear protective rubber gloves as you will need to use your hands. You definitely do not want to get those gunks in your hands.
Steps to follow:
- Start by removing your shower drain’s cover. There might be a screw in the middle. If this is the case, take it out using a screwdriver.
- Now find out where the clog is by looking inside the drain. If it is too dark to see clearly, use a flashlight.
- Once you find the clog, pull it out by hand if it is within your reach. If the clog is too far to reach with your hands, the following method will help you.
Note: This method is quite effective for fixing any clogs caused by small things like hair. However, it will not work well if the clog is a result of mineral build-up. For that, you might need to use chemicals.
- Use a Hook
Using a hook is one of the oldest methods for fixing blocked shower drain problems. It has a reasonably high success rate. You can also make a hook out of a wire hanger. However, you must ensure that you only use a wire hanger as other hangers, such as plastic hangers, cannot work.
Steps to follow:
- Take a wire and shape one end of it into a curve that imitates a hook. You can DIY a hook by using a wire hanger and straightening it but leaving the side with the hook as it is.
- Once you have your hook, try fishing out the clog with a piece of wire if you cannot reach it by hand.
Note: If you want to unclog a shower drain that blocked due to mineral build-up, this might not be an ideal method.
- Use Chemicals
You can easily find strong chemical cleaners that are designed to unblock drains in most of your local hardware stores. However, make sure that you use them properly as some chemicals are too harsh, which can damage your drain if used in excess.
Helpful tips when using chemicals:
- Follow the directions from the packaging to a tee.
- Do not use too much product. The amount you should use varies depending on the product and the intensity of the build-up.
- For your safety, wear protective gloves and goggles.
- Refrain from mixing your chemicals as the reaction can produce poisonous gases.
- When pouring the chemicals down your shower drain, do it carefully to avoid a backsplash.
Note: Do not take this method lightly, as it can cause damage to your pipes, especially if you keep doing it.
- Call a Reliable Plumber
If you feel uneasy doing the job yourself, just leave it to the hands of a professional. Do your research and find the best plumber available near you. This ensures that your blocked drain is unclogged correctly.
Useful Tips for Preventing Clogs
You probably experience constant clogs in your shower drain or are yet to experience a clogged shower drain. Either way, here are some helpful tips that will help you prevent future occurrences or reoccurrences of a blocked shower drain.
- Use a drain cover as it can immensely help you out.
- Avoid using oily products in the shower or use them after you are out of the shower.
- Do not empty a dustbin or throw objects into your shower drain. The objects can accumulate excess dirt and clog it.
- Having a good maintenance routine is a must.
For Seriously Blocked Drains Call a Plumber
Now you know the fundamentals of blocked shower drains and some tips to help you unclog them. If you follow all the methods mentioned in this article, you can deal with your blocked shower drain without having to reach out to a professional. However, if the blockage is above your skills, do not hesitate to reach out to a trustworthy local plumber.