Bathtub Clogged? Here’s How To Unclog It

Some days there is nothing more refreshing than taking a shower. You stand under the water in your Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, home and allow the water to cascade over you. But then you notice the water is pooling around your ankles. Chemical drain cleaners pop into your mind, but unfortunately you’re out.

There’s nothing you can do now, but you know it needs to be fixed before your next shower. Of course, the easiest solution is to call a professional plumber, but that’s not always the most cost effective answer to your problem.

Instead, you run to your phone to search the web for “how to unclog a bathtub” and likely find thousands of results. Thankfully, we have step-by-step instructions from a professional plumber for you.

Common Reasons Your Drain Is Clogged

Think about it, when you’re in the tub, you are cleaning yourself from top to bottom. Everything on your body is rinsed away down the drain. So here are a few things that your drain might be clogged with:

  • Strands of hair
  • Dirt and grease
  • Soapy Buildup
  • Larger objects like jewelry or hairbands
  • Backflow from a septic system that is backing up

These are the most common reasons for a blocked drain, and they will need to be taken care of quickly.

Signs Your Drains Are Getting Clogged

It’s almost impossible to avoid clogged drains altogether. It happens to all of us at some point. But there are typically warning signs that a blockage will soon take over, and these include:

  • Strange Smells – If there is an odor coming from the pipes below, something is stuck inside them.
  • Bizarre Sounds – Although no one trains you to identify the subtle sounds of your plumbing, you can likely tell when something is off. An atypical gurgle or slow trickling sound indicates that the water is moving around the clog (and that there is indeed a clog).
  • Slow Drainage – Most people identify this as the first time there is a problem. You’ll easily notice water gathering in your tub taking a long time to drain, or worse, it doesn’t drain at all.

When you see these warning signs, take immediate action to remove the clog yourself or call in a professional plumber.

Removing The Clog On Your Own

We’re here to tell you that there are several ways to unclog a bathroom clog. However, using a cup plunger is one of the best ways. Before you dive right into the standing water, you’ll need to gather a few supplies. The following tools will help unblock minor clogs:

  • Bucket or cup
  • Screwdriver
  • Rubber gloves
  • Towels
  • Cup plunger
  • Safety glasses
  • Rubber boots
  • Plastic apron

Plunging your bathtub can be messy and cause filthy water to splash on you during the process. Wearing safety glasses and a plastic apron will prevent harmful pathogens from getting in your eyes or on your skin.

Because you’re dealing with water, the surface can get slippery. Like a professional plumber, wearing plastic boots can give you traction and prevent you from falling down.

How To Unclog A Bathtub?

Start by removing any standing water from the bathtub. Then remove the drainstop, keeping in mind that hair and other debris have likely accumulated on it. Sometimes removing this first layer will get the water moving again. If not, move on to the next step.

Add hot water to the tub. Add several inches of hot water back into your tub. It should be enough to cover the head of the cup plunger once you place it into the basin. This water will help create the necessary pressure and suction to extract the clog from the drain.

Use the cup plunger. When a professional plumber mentions the word plunger, the one that pops into your mind is likely a cup plunger. This type will fit snugly on the bathtub’s surface surrounding the drain.

Place the head of the cup plunger under the water and over the drain to form a tight seal. Keep it perpendicular to the surface by holding it at 90 degree angle. Apply force to the handle to press down and quickly release to allow the plunger to reset to its original shape. Repeat this process 10 to 15 times or for roughly 30 seconds.

Check for debris. After pumping for 30 seconds, pull up on the plunger to break the seal covering the drain. If the clog has successfully been broken up, you’ll see dirty water or other debris come out after removing the plunger. This backflow happens because the force you’ve generated with the cup plunger should pull the clog out of the drain instead of forcing it down or breaking it up.

Repeat if necessary. After the plunger seal is broken, let the debris clear. The water should begin to drain. If it doesn’t, then, unfortunately, you haven’t removed the blockage yet. Repeat the process two or three more times. After several attempts, if you cannot clear the clog, it’s time to call a professional plumber for help

Call in a professional plumber. Following the steps listed above should help you easily clear away minor bathtub blockages. You might need to take the next step and call in an expert if it doesn’t. Plumbers have a device called an auger or plumber’s snake. The device is a long flexible cable with a coiled spring at one end and a hand crank at the other.

The cable is inserted in the drain and cranked and the clogged area is reached. The plumber will push and pull the cable to help “attach” to the clog. Then it is cranked in the opposite direction to retract the cable out of the drain. If the coil comes up empty, they’ll need to make a second attempt, or use the more advanced tools they have.

Have a Question? We Have the Answer!

While you’ll likely get the clog removed on your own, Saddler Plumbing & Gas is here in the event you cannot. If you need more tips on how to unclog a bathtub give us a call. We’ll answer your questions or schedule an appointment and we will figure out what’s wrong with your drain.