How To Unclog A Shower Drain When Drano Doesn't Work
When you have a slow-flowing or stopped-up shower drain, what do you do? If you're like millions of other Americans, you probably reach for Drano. However, what do you do when Drano simply isn't enough?
Believe it or not, Drano isn't a cure-all for your drain problems. When you don't use it properly, it can actually make your clogged drain worse. Then, you're standing in a pool of water the next time that you take a shower.
Home Remedies and Natural Solutions to Unclog a Shower Drain
Many home remedies can unclog a shower drain and are more effective than Drano. If these do-it-yourself tips don't work, you might have a serious plumbing problem and should call a professional. Before you make that call, though, give these suggestions a try.
Loosen Up the Gunk With Boiling Water
Let's start off easy. All that you need for this remedy is a medium-sized pot and water. Fill up the pot with water, and bring it to a boil.
Pour the water directly down the shower drain a little at a time to give it a chance to work through the gunk. Pouring too quickly will cause the boiling water to back up and cool off before it goes down the pipe.
Keep in mind that you should only try the boiling water method if you have metal pipes. Using boiling water on PVC pipes can loosen the plumbing joints, which may cause a leak.
Create a Powerful but Natural Home Cleaning Solution
If the boiling water doesn't work, don't lose hope. After all, it only works best on minor clogs. If you really want to remove the gunk from your pipes, you have to create a powerful cleaning agent.
When it comes to slow shower drains, you want something that will foam up and really stick to the sides of the pipes. Thankfully, you can create such a cleaning solution using ½ cup each of white vinegar and baking soda.
To get the most out of combining these two ingredients, you want them to foam and fizz in the pipes. Add the baking soda first, and then slowly pour in the vinegar. The foaming action will allow the cleaner to stick to your pipes better than just using vinegar alone.
What makes this combination so great? It breaks up grime and the hair that goes down your shower drain. To get the most benefit out of this natural cleaner, let it sit for about an hour before you rinse it with hot water.
Use a Plunger To Unclog The Shower Drain
You probably only think of using a plunger for toilet clogs. However, they can help you with shower clogs as well. There are a few things that you need to know about plunging a shower drain because it's slightly different from plunging a toilet.
First, you have to remove the shower stopper. In most showers, it simply unscrews so that you gain direct access to the drain.
With the stopper removed, you can line up the plunger with your shower drain. Before you start plunging, though, cover up the overflow drain. It's typically covered by a metal plate.
On the bottom side of the plate, you'll see one or more holes. These allow water to pass through to keep the bathtub from overflowing. In order to plunge a shower drain correctly, cover up these overflow holes.
Although it's not the most efficient way, you can just plug the holes with a rag while you plunge. There's a demonstration in this video.
Use a Coat Hanger to Remove Hair
The most common cause of a slow or clogged shower drain is hair. When you shower, some of your hair falls out and goes down the drain. Long hair tends to clog up drains faster than short hair, but even short hair can be troublesome.
In order to get your drain running right, you have to remove this buildup of hair. While companies make special tools to remove the hair, you can make your own with just a coat hanger. All that you need is:
- A pair of gloves.
- A metal coat hanger.
- A pair of needle-nose pliers.
First, put on the gloves to protect your hands. Then, bend the hanger to not only make it straight but also easy to turn. Also, make a small hook on the bottom in order to grab the hair better. You can see the correct way to bend a coat hanger in this video.
Pro Tip: Have a small trash bag or plastic bag handy. The hair that you remove from the drain will be pretty slimy and messy. Once you remove the hair, place it into the plastic bag to avoid dripping it across your floor on the way to the trash can.
Problems Beyond Your Control Require a Professional Plumber
These home remedies can improve slow-flowing shower drains as a result of some of the most common causes of clogs. These include:
- Soap buildup.
- Mineral buildup.
However, they aren't meant to fix shower clogs that result from outside forces. For example, sometimes tree roots obstruct the flow of water. This typically happens when you get a crack in your pipe, and the tree roots grow into it in search of water.
Such a problem is too big for most homeowners to tackle themselves. If the solutions above don't improve the flow of your shower drain, there may be a bigger problem at play. It's important to hire a professional plumber to determine the problem.
Avoid Using Bleach
You may have noticed, that none of the tips above recommend pouring bleach down the drain. The reason is that bleach can cause several problems, some of which are even deadly.
When bleach and cleaning agents like Drano mix together, they create toxic gases called chloramine and chlorine. Believe it or not, these deadly gases are also created by mixing bleach and vinegar.
If you've already used Drano, you have to make sure that the product is completely out of your pipes before you add any vinegar. If you have a clog, this can be a difficult process. The easiest way is to pour a few pots of hot water, boiling if possible, down the drain. It will not only get rid of the Drano but might also remove the clog.
How To Prevent Shower Drain Clogs
Shower drains will become clogged from time to time. However, you can limit how often that it happens to you by taking preventive measures. One of the best measures is using a hair catcher.
A hair catcher is typically a small plastic device that sits in the drain. It has small holes that let water pass through but stop hair from entering the drain. Using this, you can prevent hair from causing clogs. Just be sure to clean the hair catcher, or it may become clogged as well!
Also, clean your pipes seasonally using the above all-natural cleaning solution. It's good for getting rid of clogs and preventing them. It doesn't take long to make, and it can keep your shower water flowing freely all year.