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How to Unclog a Bathtub: Use These 6 Effective Methods

November 27, 2023

6 Ways To Unclog A Bathtub

A clogged drain is one of the most common household plumbing problems for Ontarians. If anything, you will inevitably encounter a blockage in your pipes as a homeowner. Whether you have intentionally brought about this plumbing problem by tossing in solid objects which shouldn’t have been thrown into your drainage lines in the first place or a situation that is not of your own accord, such as intrusive tree roots, there’s no telling when a nasty clog will crop up unexpectedly. A bathroom drain, specifically, can get plugged chock-full of accumulated debris, including soap scum, skin flakes, long and short strands of hair, shaving cream, and other single-use disposable products you may have thrown in. Over time, these items collect, forge, and clump into a solid blockage that readily clings to a certain location within your drainage pipes, stifling the flow of water. So it may be time to search for how to unclog a bathtub drain effectively.

Despite your drain catchers being handy at preventing most of the debris, they are not foolproof and only reduce the amount of muck that goes down the drain rather than getting rid of it entirely. In fact, no method will prevent 100% of residue from filtering through. But you can be mindful of your daily habits and behaviors and remain extra vigilant about what you flush down the drain.

Needless to say, Ontario homeowners, for some reason, become complacent and fail to do proper upkeep of their home’s plumbing system, let alone of throwing in random items haphazardly. Others falsely assume that somehow their drain lines are self-cleansing and will automatically sweep away any debris if they turn their faucet to the highest level of water power. Not only is this untrue, but you also make yourself vulnerable to the used and dirty water every time you bathe. If anything, removing a clog will allow your lifestyle to be more hygienic and sanitary for your daily grooming routines. Especially if your bathtub gets heavy use from a downtime soak and bubble bath after a long and tiring day to washing your dog, you have no choice but to learn how to unclog a bathtub. If you’ve noticed that you are constantly standing knee-deep in opaque, cloudy water during or after your bath time, it may highlight that there is a clog in your bathtub’s drain lines. Atop this, if you have heard gurgling sounds, whiffed foul odors, or noticed random puddles around your bathtub due to a leakage, these are all red flags to be concerned about. Responsible Ontario homeowners who are keen on the routine maintenance of their drainage lines, including signing up for an annual professional inspection and cleaning service, will slim to no need to frequently unclog their bathtubs. Regrettably, some property owners downright ignore any maintenance at all and eventually need a drain line repair or replacement. If you are dealing with a bathroom clog, your best bet is to ask a qualified, licensed, and fully insured Ontario plumber from Hy-Pro Plumbing & Drain Cleaning to blast it away.

Why You Have A Clog In Your Bathtub Drain & How It Must Be Removed

A bathroom clog is composed of accumulated debris from dirt, rock sediments, soap scum, dead skin flakes, hair, and other miscellany items. Altogether these discarded items coalesce, stick to one another and form a clog that clings to the walls of your drainage pipes. Sooner or later, this muck blocks out the smooth and effortless flow of water. It’ll be obvious you are facing a clog of sorts if the water in your bathtub does not drain properly to the point in which it is too sluggish and begins to back up water into other plumbing fixtures. Ontario homeowners are best advised not to be apathetic about a clog in their bathtub drain as it will result in a domino effect of further problems. For example, apart from a bathtub clog result interrupting your daily grooming routines, you also risk encountering a sewage backup in which raw and contaminated wastewater is hurled back into your home. Plus, you also put into jeopardy your home’s plumbing fixtures as this clog can disappear and re-emerge in your bathroom’s sink, shower area, or toilet as it triggering further backups, constant leaks, and fracture pipes. Eventually, you’ll discover this one pesky clog has wreaked havoc and resulted in costly and permanent water damage. Generally speaking, most surface-level clogs you can get rid of using a quick fix, such as a plunger or auger. However, a deeper clog may require the assistance of a professional plumber who can perform an inspection, followed by hydro jetting to break through the clog so it flows down your sewer lateral.

Warning Signs You Have A Clog

Although most of us have a hunch we may be dealing with a clog in the bathtub, some clues are more obvious than others. Do you tend to notice the water temperatures from your bathtub’s faucet tend to fluctuate if there are other water-based appliances turned on at the same time? This may be due to a clog, as a blockage in a pipe can instantaneously affect multiple plumbing fixtures at the same time, especially if the clog is situated within the main sewer lateral. Besides being aware and extra careful of what you toss into the drain hole, here are other symptoms to be wary of if looking to unclog a bathtub:

Multiple, Slow, And Sluggish Drains

If it takes forever for your water to completely drain away and you always notice standing water in your bathroom’s plumbing fixture, there may be a sneaky clog lurking within the deep lagoon of your drain lines. Because all the bathroom sinks, toilets, tubs, and showers connect to a single drainage pipe that leads to the main sewer lateral underneath your house, a scathing clog can affect these areas all at once.

Burbling Or Gurgling Noises

If you’ve heard odd sounds and more noise pollution coming from your bathroom than usual, it may be due to a lodged blockage within your drainage pipes. If you were to press your ear up against the plumbing fixture or appliance, you would notice that some obstacle is preventing water or air from flowing through the drainage line.

Foul Odours

If you’ve inhaled a musty odor wafting from your bathtub’s drain hole, it may be due to mold and mildew growth festering right beneath your drain cover. Normally a rotten egg-like odor is from excessive sulfur dioxide and also due to a possible backed-up and clogged drain. Sometimes if a drainage pipe’s P-trap is dry, it can also cause a pungent smell, as this contraption serves to prevent sewer smells from entering the bathroom. Plus, if you are experiencing a sewage backup, the odor can also be from lingering sewer gasses.

Random Puddles Of Water From Leaks

Another obvious sign you have a bathtub clogged is discovering puddles of water around the base of the tub. This indicates that there is a leakage in your bathtub drain line from a small hole that may have ruptured the pipe itself. Your best bet is to figure out how to unclog a bathtub sometime soon; otherwise, you risk permanent and costly water and moisture damage to your floors and fixtures as your bathroom floods out.

Pest Invasion

If you are at your wit’s end and fed up with creepy crawly bugs around your bathroom area, these water-loving bugs are there for a reason. Not only is a bathroom an ideal habitat for them, given the excessive humidity levels and moisture-prone areas, but they can use it as a source of sustenance and breeding grounds to multiply. For example, drain flies, moths, sewage flies, and silverfish are all attracted to your drain pipes.

How to Unclog a Bathtub Drain: Here Are 6 Effective Methods

Plunger

A standard cup plunger can suck up anything inside your bathtub drain and unleash any stiff debris. But it’s all in the tactic. For plunging to be effective, you have to utilize slow, discrete movements rather than really quick ones, which will create a more effective stronghold and propulsion and force to remove the debris. For example, start by plunging your bathroom drain by gently pushing down the handle of the plunger and follow up with occasional forceful pumping about ten seconds in between. If this works, the blockage will spurt out of the drain holes and plop right into the plunger’s cup. But of course, a plunger is only the most entry-level plumbing tool and only works on more shallow clogs in your bathtub’s drain lines.

Wet And Dry Vacuum

If you need more persuasive suction power to completely remove the bathtub clog, we recommend using a wet and dry vacuum. For starters, remove the drain cover from the bathtub and point the nozzle of the wet/dry vacuum directly within the drain, ensuring it is airtight. Turn on the vacuum to get rid of any accumulated debris and residue, including soap scum, hair, etc., that is brewing inside your drainage pipes. At last, if you hear a subtle change in sound as you vacuum away the debris, you will know the clog has been completely removed. Unlike your clunky plunger, this streamlined device will suck and slurp everything it encounters, which will readily unclog the bathtub drain, all thanks to its superior suctioning abilities. Plus, you don’t have to touch the clog with your bare hands, so this is a more hygienic option for clog removal.

Drain Snake

An auger is a long, slender, and flexible cable attached to a hand crank that can span upwards of 100 feet in length. Typically, to remove a clog, you would first remove the drain’s cover and proceed to insert the auger into the drain hole. As you turn the hand crank, you will eventually encounter some sort of resistance, indicating that you have cinched the blockage. By turning the auger counterclockwise, you should continue to push the cable further until you have completely clenched the clog. Again, turn the crank clockwise to begin reeling in the blockage. Finally, remove the clog from the end of the wire after you have exited the drain hole. And eureka! The clog has been removed from your bathtub. Usually, there is no need to press further to unclog a bathtub drain unless the blockage is deeper in your drainage line. In this circumstance, you would have to ask a professional plumber for extra assistance, as they have professional-grade equipment for bathtub clog removal.

Wire Coat Hanger

This is another one of those DIY quick hacks that may or may not be effective. If you are dealing with a shallow clog in your bathtub, however, you can use a basic clothes wire hanger to loosen and even remove it. For example, you can create your makeshift wire hanger for clog removal by taking a set of needle-nose pliers to unravel the hangar loops and flatten them out and by creating a hooked end. This hook will be a catching mechanism of sorts for the solid blockage and shouldn’t be more than a quarter of an inch in width. For safety precautions, we recommend using a pair of rubber gloves for sanitary purposes and a flashlight to shed light inside the dark drain hole. As you insert the wire hanger, slowly maneuver it across the length of the drainage line until you encounter something stiff. At this point, wiggle the wire in place to fully grasp the clog. You may need to repeat this procedure multiple times depending on how big the clog may be. After the clog has been removed, make sure to flush out the bathtub drain with hot water to completely unclog the bathtub drain. If the water is no longer sluggish to drain away and there is no standing water each time you bathe, you have likely gotten rid of the clog. But if that’s not the case, you may have multiple clogs to deal with, or the blockage itself may be wedged within your pipes too deep and need more advanced techniques from an expert plumber.

Baking Soda And White Vinegar

Another common home remedy is blending baking soda and vinegar and pouring it down the bathtub drain. For starters, we recommend pouring a cup of boiling water down the drain hole to prep the area and clear away any sticky residue, such as soap scum and limescale deposits, that may hinder the effectiveness of your concoction. Next, pour about three-quarters of a cup of baking soda into the bathtub drain and allow it to sit for a handful of minutes to ensure it is absorbed. Follow up by pouring half a cup of vinegar, and right after, pour another half a cup of hot water. To figure out if it’s effectively working, check for signs of fizzing bubbles. And lastly, plug the drain hole with a rubber stopper or its cover and allow the chemical reaction to occur. Let the mixture sit and wait for at least one hour to ensure the sludge has been fully dissolved. Once you remove the rubber stopper, be sure to pour in more hot water to completely flush out the bathtub drain and ensure the clog has been removed.

Removing The P-Trap

Although the above methods are useful, sometimes you have to get your hands dirty as the clog is just too damn stubborn. Oftentimes, we may accidentally drop a small solid object, such as a piece of jewelry or a grooming tool, in the bathtub. As a result, a clog may form within the bathtub’s drain line’s P-trap, especially if it’s more shallow. In this case, you would have to disassemble the p-trap to physically access the clog and remove it. For starters, you need a monkey wrench, a bucket, a pair of rubber gloves, and a face mask for hygienic purposes. Locate the curved piece of the pipe and use a monkey wrench to remove the black sludge, which consists of the clog itself. Be sure to scrub clean the area around the piping after removing the clog and before reattaching it again.

Bathtub Preventative Maintenance Tips:

Besides calling your local plumber for routine checkups and drain cleaning services, here are some things you must ideally boycott from your bathtub’s drainage lines.

Do Not Flush or Wash Down:

  • Food leftovers, including fats, oil, and grease
  • Excessive soap scum (shampoo, conditioner) combined with hard water results in quick calcified and limescale buildup in your drainage pipes
  • Hair strands
  • Paper towels
  • Flushable wipes of any kind
  • Excess toilet paper
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Single-use disposable products for bodily grooming, i.e., cotton rounds, Q-tips, contact lenses, floss, band-aids, bath bombs, etc.
  • Harsh chemical drain cleaners
  • Medication
  • Cat litter

Getting Tired Of The Clog In Your Bathtub? Hy-Pro Plumbing Will Snuff It Out!

A clogged shower drain or bath drain is the biggest nuisance of household plumbing problems, but as we have discussed, there are numerous creative methods and home remedies to try out for clog removal for your bathtub. But if you have exhausted all your options for how to unclog a bathtub, your best bet is to ask a professional plumber for help.

It may be about time to ask a certified Ontario plumber from Hy-Pro Plumbing And Drain Cleaning for backup support. Our trustworthy plumber has at their disposal a wide variety of plumbing equipment and tactics, from drain camera inspection and hydro scrub jetting. Whilst we are there, we will even thoroughly inspect your home’s plumbing system and provide you with a list of future recommendations for repairs and replacements.

Besides unclogging bathtub drains, we also offer other residential and commercial services, from drain cleaning to water heater installation to frozen pipe repair. Go ahead and reach out to one of our customer contact representatives at 1-877-554-9776, who will gladly schedule your service appointment as we await your call.

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