How to Unclog a Bath Tub Drain

For the most part, a drain that completely stops flowing can not easily be restored to full operating condition. Clogged drains usually occur over time. That means, the drain began restriction with gradual buildup and finally, something went down the drain and closed the remaining orifice. Or, a shift in loose, heavy buildup closed the narrowing pipe to come to a complete stoppage. What ever the cause, the fact remains, the drain is clogged and you need flow restored.

Tub drains are surprisingly unpredictable as to what you will need to clear the drain. For plumbing, sewer and drain cleaning companies who work on flat rate, showers and tubs are where the technician can lose money, working on a difficult drain line.

If your tub is slow, you may try a home made concoction of baking soda and vinegar. (This is a trick used to create movement. No one Anchor Sewer and Drain Cleaning has spoken to has ever reported clearing a blockage with vinegar and baking soda. However, plenty of advisers are giving their clients this information. This article was originally written June 2013. Today, 10-27-14, a customer reported attempting this remedy. No success.)

Bail as much of the water from the tub as you can. Wait about an hour. Then, pour a half a cup of baking soda into the drain of the tub. Follow it by a half cup of vinegar and allow it to sit for about 3 hours. (When adding the vinegar, pour it quickly into the drain and pull yourself away. The two ingredients will react causing fumes and foaming action.) It does not matter how accurate you are at getting the vinegar into the mouth of the drain because the tub is designed to drain to the mouth of the drain.

When the tub has sat for the required three hours, remove the over flow cover from the tub. Refer to the diagram…

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Tightly stuff a cloth or sponge into the overflow so it will not fall into the piping. Use a flexible plunger. Not a plunger with a funnel on the end. Nor a plunger you feel you have to stand on to get it to work. You want to center the plunger over the mouth of the drain, run a little water and plunge rapidly for about five seconds. Remove the plunger and take note as to how much water is draining out. If the water has run out completely, run water into the tub to see if the tub drains normally. If it is at the least, slow, plunge the tub while water is flowing from the spout. If you still have a clogged tub drain, take note of the blunt instrument being inserted through the overflow in the diagram above. You will need to attempt cabling the drain with a drain snake. Many home owners perform these steps and do not have success at freeing a clogged tub drain. Don’t feel bad. Call a drain cleaning company. Before you do, there is one more post in this blog that may help. It is titled, “ My Tub Won’t Drain”.

Diagnosing and fixing the drainage problem for a sink, shower or bathtub may be a long and difficult process. Be safe. If fixing the issue is something that is risky or not being understood, contact a drain service company. The range of pricing for a company who cares to do the job correctly is within $145.00 – $225.00. This depends on material used in piping, age of the house which would help the plumber understand the plumbing code that was used in assembling the plumbing system, access to the plumbing and what is assumed to be creating the blockage.


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