How to Unclog a Shower Drain or Bathtub?

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A bathtub or sink that doesn’t drain properly isn’t much use. But, depending on what you’ve been flushing, blockages can occur. They’re especially common when hot fat and food is poured down there. Over time, these things will cool, and form a solid mass somewhere down the pipe, leaving the water with nowhere to go.

Fortunately, there are several different ways to unclog a drain.

Boiling Water

The heat from boiling water can help to loosen up a blockage. In many cases, this can set off a chain reaction – once there’s room for a little bit to flow through, the rest of the blockage might be forced back. Make sure there’s plenty of water in the kettle, so that you can pour a little bit and observe the results. You should discover quickly whether it’s worked, but this tends to only be effective when the water hasn’t already backed up beyond the drain.

A plunger

Every household should have at least one plunger. The suction cup forms a seal around the sink, allowing you to force air (or water) up and down along the length of the pipe. This will loosen many blockages in mere seconds.

Use a drain cleaner

A professional plumber will have access to more specialised tools. Nowadays, the most effective of these is an industrial drain cleaner. This is an electric tool which dispenses a long length of retractable cable. It’ll break apart clogs that a plunger can’t deal with, and it’ll often do so in mere seconds.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

This combination will help to dissolve certain kinds of blockage. Pour the baking soda down first. Once it’s settled onto whatever the blockage is, you can send the vinegar down. The reaction will break apart the obstacle – though you’ll need to wait a few hours to see whether it’s worked.

Wire coat-hanger

If you’re unwilling to call in the professionals, then you might resort to a DIY version of the drain cleaner. This is a wire coat hanger which has been bent to match the shape of the pipe. If the blockage is near to the first bend, then you can easily bend the wire around and break it apart. You’ll need a set of pliers to make tight bends in the wire.

Use Chemical Cleaners

There are several different sorts of chemical drain cleaner available. There are caustic ones, like lye, there are oxidising ones, like bleach, and there are acidic ones, like hydrochloric acid. The latter of these three tends to be the reserve of professionals, as they’re potentially extremely harmful. Whichever you’re using, make sure that it’s kept well out of reach of children.


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