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The 6-Step Process for Unclogging a Bathtub

There are probably a few things that can put a damper on a nice, refreshing shower faster than a slow-draining bathtub. This problem leaves you standing ankle-deep in dirty water, but it also leaves a soap ring that’s hard to get rid of.  The cause of this situation is usually a big clump of hair, grease, or other nasty debris that has accumulated just below the stopper. Fortunately, this problem is easy enough to fix. And, if it can’t be fixed using the 6-step process for unclogging a bathtub below, call someone like Sarkinen Plumbing. They have everything needed to do the job.

Materials and Tools

For unclogging a bathtub, you only need a few tools and materials. These are:

  • A 6 or 7-inch length of 12-gauge wire or a coat hanger
  • Wire cutters
  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Rubber gloves
  • Utility knife
  • Trash bag
  • Liquid dish soap

Six Steps to an Unclogging A Bathtub

Now that you have everything assembled, it’s time to get to work. However, before you do start, it’s a good idea just to blast it with hot water. This will often loosen or even free what is clogging the drain. If it doesn’t, remove the stopper, which usually unscrews or just pulls out the flange.

Step 1

Using wire cutters, snip a piece of wire from your coat hanger or use the same 12-gauge wire length. This should be six or seven inches long. Next, using your needlenose pliers, grip one end of the wire about 1/2 inch from the end, and bend it to form a hook. You will need the hook to be about 1/2-inch-wide, so a clump of hair won’t come off when you withdraw it from the drain.

Step 2

If your drain has a plug, you can skip this step. If it has a stopper, it will need to be removed. This can be done by turning the stopper until it pops closed. Then, with a screwdriver, pull the stopper up as far as it will go. Loosen the screw on the shaft until it drops away. Put the assembly aside for now. Other types of assemblies come out when they are pressed down.

Step 3

Look down inside of the drain to see if you see the clog. Now, force the hook end of your wire into the drain to push it past the plug. Then, pull it out. The hook on the wire should snag the plug, allowing you to remove it. If it does not, the plug is probably deeper inside the drain. You can either use a long wire or buy a plumber’s snake to fish down the drain. When the plug is located, make sure it is snagged, then pull it out. If the drain has crosshairs or bars in it, you will need to cut the plug’s loose hairs to get them out. This is a good use for the utility knife.

Step 4

Remove all of your tools and parts from the bathtub and run water. If it drains freely, you’re done. If not, continue below.

Step 5

If the drain is still slow, pour about 1/4 of a cup of dishwashing soap down the drain, followed by hot water or vinegar. This will help to lubricate the pipes and push any further residue out. If your pipes are made of plastic, use hot water from the tap only. If they are metal, you can use boiling water. Boiling water poured down plastic pipes might loosen them. Once the clog is removed you will want to clean the tub to remove all the gunk that was brought up from the drain.

Clean tub
Image by MikesPhotos from Pixabay

Step 6

If the bathroom does not drain freely at this point, it might need a longer snake to burst through the clog, or you might need to call a plumber.

With any luck at all, the drain flows freely now. If it does, great. An ounce of prevention is a fair price for being problem-free in the future, so you might want to install a screen or other drain cover to prevent new problems.

Featured Photo by Bruno Bučar on Unsplash