DIY Plumbing: How to Unclog Your Bathtub Drain

If you’ve noticed it taking forever for your bathtub to empty, it’s more than likely the drain is clogged. Before you call a plumber, there are several things you can do to try unblocking it yourself.

First, you need to remove the drain cover. Some covers are held in place by either a Philips or Flat head screw in the center. Just unscrew it and take the cover off. Other drains have clips holding the cover in place. If you don’t see a screw, but you have a drain cover with holes in it, look for clips, release them, and then remove the cover.

But you may not have a drain cover at all. Some places–especially old houses–just have an opening with a little X in the center. But you can unblock those, too.

If you have a cover with holes in it, just clean it well, and put it back on. Usually it’s hair clogging the drain, and you’re back in business once you remove the debris.

If you have an open drain, you can pick up a plunger for less than $10. The new ones have accordion folds that let you push more water through the system, breaking up the clogged area. To do this, rock the plunger up and down a few times, and stop to see if it’s still clogged. If it is, try plunging again, letting more water in. When it seems to be working, stop and let the water wash down the rest.

If that doesn’t work, you can try using a snake. Snakes are similar to a long, coiled hose. Feed it down the drain, and try poking a hole in the clogged area. Then, let the water pressure break up the rest.

Chemicals should be your last resort. They come in either liquids or crystals. Before trying more dangerous ones, you can pour some bleach down the drain and avoid running the tub water for as long as possible.

If this doesn’t work, Liquid Plumber is one brand you can try, and there are others as well. Pour the contents of the bottle down the drain and let it stand for several hours. The chemicals will break up whatever is clogging the drain.

Be extremely careful when using these! If they can break up hair, they can do serious harm to your skin. Wash your hands very well, even if you’ve only touched the bottle. When you throw the bottle away, put it in a plastic bag so animals won’t be hurt by the chemicals.

In some cases, nothing works. This means it’s time to throw in the towel and give the plumber a call!

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