It’s happened to the best of us. You’re taking a shower, prepping for the day or for a date, when you realize the water isn’t completely going down the drain. By the end of the shower you’re standing in several inches of water that takes several minutes to drain even after you’ve finished your shower. And that’s only the beginning. If you don’t address the issue early on the clog will become worse, and it’ll go from taking a few minutes to drain to a few hours. Eventually, if you don’t address the issue right away, you’ll need to give a professional plumber a call. However, as long as you are proactive you can fix the situation early on. To do so, here is what you need to know how to clear a clogged shower drain.
Tips on How to Clear a Clogged Shower Drain
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Your first inclination might be to pull out the plunger for your shower drain. This might help, but unlike the toilet where the plunger is most often used your shower usually doesn’t have large, single objects (such as globs of toilet paper) stuck together. Instead, the shower is clogged from soap scum, hair, and dirt. So while you can pull out the plunger for immediate help, it likely won’t be a permanent fix. Now it might knock loose some of the debris, but the issue will return.
So, while you can use a plunger in an initial pinch, you’ll want to correct the problem. The best way to do this is to fully clear the blockage. To do this you will need to clean out the soap scum and other gunk stuck in the shower drain. The best first step for how to clear a clogged shower drain is to break out the baking soda and vinegar.
To start, mix baking soda with water. You’ll want to make a pourable paste. Think of it almost like smoothie thickness. If it is too watery it won’t stick to the clog. Pour the mixture down the shower drain, wait a few minutes, then pour down vinegar. This is similar to the old volcano experiments you might have done back in grade school. The vinegar and baking soda combination will froth up. With a thicker baking soda mix sticking to the clog the vinegar will then cause the clog to break down.
As you let the combo go to work put a tea kettle on the stove (if you don’t have a kettle bring a pot of water to boil). This should take five minutes or so. Once simmering/boiling take the water and carefully pour it down the drain. This will help wash out the remaining debris.
This should do the trick, or at the very least you should see an improvement. If the drain isn’t fully back to normal yet repeat the process one or two more times.
If that didn’t do the trick you’ll want to invest in a plumber’s snake. This doesn’t cost much and you can pick one up from your local hardware store. Basically this is a long, metal “tube” that is fed down into the drain. It will then latch onto whatever clog you have going on in the shower. Once it connects you’ll then reel it back in, almost like you caught a fish. These works best when the clog is from hair. However, if the drain is clogged due to a closed pipe from soap scum the plumber’s snake may not work.
If you are able to remove the clog using the plumber’s snake you may want to repeat the baking soda and vinegar technique just to clear out any remnants that may have stuck to the side of the plumbing.
Generally it is best to not use chemical cleaners. Chemical cleaners can damage the plumbing, especially when used on a regular basis. If you have an older home the chemicals might eat away at the metal plumbing as well. However, if you use the cleaner once in a great while it should be alright.
If the other previous methods have failed you’ll want to pick up a cleaner for the particular clog you have. As you might not know exactly the kind of clog you have you’ll want to pick up a chemical clog cleaner designed specifically for showers. These cleaners will be designed to attack both hair and soap scum (whereas cleaners for sinks will often be designed for other kinds of clogs). As the other previous methods have failed you’ll also want to go with a heavy-duty cleaner, so go for a maximum clog-clearing strength cleaner.
Follow the instructions on the cleaner. Some cleaners will require you to not use the shower for a few hours, and you may be required to pour boiling water in after to help flush it out. Much like the baking soda and vinegar method, if the first try doesn’t work you can try a second, but after a second try move on to the next step.
(Also, if the chemical cleaner does work make sure to wash your shower out. Some chemicals might remain in the shower which can damage your skin).
Contact a Plumber
If all else fails you need to contact a plumber. They will have heavy-duty equipment, including extremely powerful plumber’s snakes, that can work the clog. They can also help determine if it is in your best interest to replace some of the plumbing, which might be the case if the entire system is corroded with years of soap scum and mineral buildup.
These are tips you need to follow for how to clear a clogged shower drain. If you notice the water in your shower is not draining at the same rate it means a clog is starting to form. You don’t want this clog to linger and develop into something more substantial, so as soon as you realize there is a clog forming act as quickly as you can to follow these steps. Your home’s entire plumbing system will thank you for it.