No one wants to stand in a puddle of water while showering, in fact, it’s just gross! Nothing is worse than trying to hurry through just to avoid the water “backup” you know is coming for your feet if you don’t.
Clogged shower drains and backed-up plumbing aren’t only an inconvenience, but that might also signal a greater problem hiding down below.
The second you notice your tub drain is clogged, you’ll want to take steps to fix it. Not sure how to fix a clogged shower drain? You’re in the right place. This blog walks you through what you should do if you are experiencing a clogged shower drain. Our goal is to help you resolve it yourself if possible before requiring drain cleaning service.
How to Fix Clogged Shower Drains
A clogged shower drain is no fun, especially if it is backed up. Luckily, there are ways to fix this and some of them are both basic and easy. Let’s get into them…
What to Do if Your Shower Drain is Clogged?
There are several reasons your shower may not be draining. Most likely it is because there is a clog in the local plumbing that is holding up the water. The clog can be caused by a blockage in the drain located near the drain opening, and a common culprit is hair. That said, the shower clog might be as a result of something farther down in the plumbing system in the main line or septic.
If the issue isn’t local to the shower itself, more serious reasons might be the area you need to focus on. These include roots entering and eventually the sewer line. A camera inspection is needed to identify this type of problem, and often trenchless sewer repair if there is indeed a broken section. This is a good time for when to get one, but it can be challenging without a cleanout.
Identifying the primary cause of the clog will help you with your solution. For example, if you find that your roots have broken through and split your pipe, then pouring cleaning solution down your drain won’t solve the problem and you’ll continue to have a shower backup.
How Do You Unclog a Shower With Standing Water?
A common problem homeowners face is standing water in their shower or tub that is slow to drain. You likely have something clogging your local drain or pipes leading away from your shower. Debris, soap scum, hair, and grease can all contribute to a shower backup. This is because these items build up over time and start to restrict the amount of water that can pass through the pipe.
Luckily, there are many ways to unclog a shower drain. This includes removing the blockage by fishing it out with a tool, using a snake to push the debris along, or pouring drain cleaner solution down the drain.
What Can Dissolve Hair in a Drain?
Hair is the most common cause of shower clogs. There are some basic ways you can dissolve hair. One simple hack is by using a hair clog remover tool. These will only work if the hair is “reachable”, and not if it’s extensive. However, if you have one on hand it’s worth a try.
You can also try a natural method like using baking soda and vinegar in your shower drain. This can sometimes dissolve hair or the scum that is clumping up the hair and flush it further along so that it does not back up your pipes. Again, this will not fix more serious problems where professional drain cleaning is necessary.
5 Symptoms of a Clogged Shower Drain
Pay attention to these 5 symptoms of a clogged shower drain so you can address the backup quickly:
1. Water is Slow to Drain
The most obvious symptom of a clogged drain is water backup. When water is still lingering in your tub or shower, even after your shower has ended, then this indicates that the water is draining slowly.
This is usually due to hair in your pipes. If water is slow to drain, you’ll want to use a hair tool, natural cleaner, or over-the-counter product that is safe for your pipes. This will resolve basic shower clogs.
2. You See Built Up Soap Scum and Residue in Your Tub
If you are already using a hair catcher but still have a shower drain issue, soap scum buildup might be the issue in your shower drain.
If you see a ring of soap scum or dirt in a circle near your bathtub drain, then this means that the water was pooling and the dirt or scum is impeding the water flow. Again, an over-the-counter product might do the trick here but be sure to choose one that is safe for your system. If this doesn’t help, a camera inspection or powered drain snake might be required.
3. You Hear Bubbling in Your Shower Drain
Bubbling might seem normal, but bubbling after or during a shower indicates that there are pockets of air in your pipes.
Air pockets might form if there is something blocking the water and forcing it to squeeze by. The air builds up around the blockage and a sound is made once the water clears. You may need to run a drain snake through the area, but just know that “twists and turns” can make a cable very difficult to navigate on shower drains. Be careful not to get this stuck, as this is a bigger problem than the clog itself.
4. Water Backs Up Out of the Shower Drain or Under Your Shower or Tub
Water that is coming back up the pipes, either on its own accord or after a shower, is always a worrisome sign. This means you might have a bigger problem with the main drain line.
This is a clear indicator of a shower drain issue that requires experience, and you should get a local plumber out for an inspection immediately.
5. There is Bad Odor Around Your Plumbing Drains
Bad odors around your toilet and shower are normal sometimes. We get it!
However, if you are noticing odor even when the plumbing isn’t being used, then this could indicate that debris and gunk are stuck in your tub or shower drain. You’ll want to resolve this before the build up gets worse.
How to Fix a Clogged Shower Drain: 4 Ways
Fixing a small shower drain clog is easy with a DIY approach and some household tools on hand. Before you collect materials, first inspect the shower drain cover. Remove any debris that you can see at the mouth of the pipes before attempting other solutions.
1. Rinse Baking Soda, White Vinegar, and Boiling Water Down the Drain
Baking soda and vinegar have long been used in DIY methods for unclogging your shower. This method requires that you pour these items down your drain, let them sit, and then rinse them out with boiling water.
First, pour some dish soap and 1 cup baking soda of baking soda followed by 1 cup vinegar in the shower drain. Wait 5 minutes and then rinse it down with boiling water. Mixed with the soap, the hot water will be able to dissolve the dirt, allowing it to rinse away from your pipes. This will only work with small or minor blockages.
You can do this a few times. However, baking soda and vinegar together can be highly corrosive. If you have an older plumbing system, then this method might cause more harm than good.
2. Purchase a Shower Drain Snake
A shower snake is a device that is fed into your shower drain to push apart blocking debris. Shower snakes are very effective at drain cleaning and can unclog a shower drain quickly.
Purchase a long drain snake (roughly 24 feet) and remove the drain cap. Then, feed it through. You may notice that it gets hung up at times.
When it feels like it is blocked, pull it out a little bit and try to push through whatever is blocking it. Do this a few times and then pull it out. Test your drain by running your shower with hot water to see if you made a difference. For showers over older bathtubs, you might need to remove the tub drain if access is limited. See this post if you need more help in learning how to use it.
3. Use a Shower Plunger for Unclogging Shower Drains
A shower plunger is similar to a toilet plunger but it is used in the shower. You can use this device to try to use pressure to unstick the clog.
Plunge your tub drain using a cup or flat plunger after using the DIY baking soda, vinegar, and hot water method and after snaking the drain.
Be careful when plunging, as sometimes it makes the clog even worse!
4. Schedule Professional Drain Services
Sometimes it’s easy to fix a clogged sink drain or shower blockage. However, If you’ve tried these methods but you can’t seem to unclog a shower drain, then it’s time to call in a professional. A professional plumber will be able to come to your home and inspect your drain. They should be able to identify what is causing the blockage using camera inspection and fix it for you.
It’s important to call a professional plumber especially if more work, like taking apart your plumbing system or inspecting your sink drain, is needed. Professionals can also advise you on the best ways of preventing clogged shower drains.
If you’re in the Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington areas then go with a trusted plumber like us here at All Masters Plumbing. We also offer hydro jetting, which is an extremely powerful form of drain cleaning that you can’t do DIY. Reach out today to learn more!