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How to Unclog Bathtub Drain in 5 Steps

Clogged bathroom tub with toilet
Poor drain maintenance may cause a slow draining bathtub, foul odour, or a complete blockage inside the pipes. The main obstructions include a build-up of dirt, waste, and hair that accumulate around the pipelines, making it difficult for water to run through and clean the impurities.
Dealing with a clogged bathtub is nerve-wracking. However, if the issue is not that serious, you can probably solve the problem yourself. So, before you call a professional plumber to restore the damage, here is how to unclog a bathtub in five easy steps.

Why Does Your Bathtub Drain Clog?

The bathtub drain has one goal: to drain water from your bath to the main sewer system. Although bathtub drains differ in size, most aren’t very wide and are usually short, making them susceptible to blockages.
A clogged bathtub drain is a common plumbing issue every household deals with at some point in time. However, unlike other household issues that happen unexpectedly, this results from the gradual build-up of various items in your drain.

Hair and Soap

Two of the most frequent causes of clogged bathtubs are hair and soap scum. When you shower or bathe, the hair and soap scum have nowhere to go but inside the drain. After some time, they can accumulate inside the pipes and stick to the sides or attach to other things that go down the pipelines, including dead skin, dirt, or sand, preventing proper drainage.

Hard Water

Despite what many people think, hard water can cause problems with your drains, especially if it has high mineral content. The bad thing is that the minerals are invisible to the naked eye, but the good thing is that you can quickly solve this issue by using the right dissolving product such as vinegar or a salt-free water conditioner.

Sand, Debris, and Dirt

If your children often play outside or if you’ve just returned from the beach, dirt and sand may quickly build up in your bathtub drain. To avoid this issue, make sure to rinse the sand and dirt outside before coming in to shower.
Once hair, soap, and debris start to collect in your drains, it is easy for other impurities to add to the clog.

Signs of a Clogged Bathtub Drain

Nobody likes that feeling of taking a hot shower with water rising in the tub. If you notice any of the following signs, you should take quick action to repair the damage. You can try to solve the problem yourself or call a professional plumber to restore your pipes.

Slow Draining Water

It is common for people to neglect slow-flowing water, thinking that the excess water will go away. However, the slow movement signals a clog somewhere in the pipes, signaling it’s time for you to clear the build-up of hair, soap, or dirt.

Bad Odour

The foul and unpleasant smell signals a clog in the drains where stagnant water has built up. Early intervention can help you avoid excessive damage to the pipes and expensive repairs.

Sewage Coming Out from the Pipes

Sewage coming out of the drains is a clear sign that the pipes are blocked. Clogging may restore the movement of the contents, resulting in backflow or overflowing.

How to Unclog Bathtub Drain

Almost any homeowner has baking soda and vinegar at home, one of the most efficient solutions for unclogging bathtub drains. Although mixing these two ingredients seems odd, it works every time (if the clog is not that big). Here is how to unclog a bathtub quickly:

Step 1: Remove the Stopper

Removing the stopper is the first thing to do to solve your bathtub drainage issue. If necessary, take a screwdriver to remove the stopper’s cap and put the screws away from the bathtub.

Step 2: Pour Boiling Water

Boil a few glasses of water and run them through the pipes. Pour a cup of boiling water at a time slowly to avoid burning yourself. If the clog is not that big, chances are it might unclog the drain right away, and you won’t need to apply the vinegar and baking soda. Next, run water in the shower or bathtub to check if everything is okay. If not, continue to the next step.

Step 3: Add Vinegar and Baking Soda

Add half a cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar and mix the ingredients. Once the mixture is homogeneous, pour it down the drain.

Step 4: Wait and Test the Drains

Wait for 20-30 minutes and test the drains to see if water runs freely. If not, add boiling water again. The combination of vinegar, baking soda, and hot water will cause a reaction that will clear away any build-up dirt.
Run water again to check if the technique was successful.

Step 5: Use Chemical Drain Cleaner

Although the mixture of baking soda and vinegar works every time, it is also essential to take another step to prevent clogs from forming again soon. Before applying chemical drain clear, read the instructions to calculate how much to add, and don’t forget about the safety precautions.
Remove any water from the bathtub and add the cleaner. Put gloves on and pour the cleaner inside the drain. Wait for a couple of minutes and run some water to see if the clog cleaner was effective.

How to Unclog Bathtub Drain and When to Call a Professional

Besides baking soda and vinegar, you can also use a drain claw or plunger to unclog the bathtub. If your tub is still not draining despite your efforts, you need to call a professional plumber to inspect the issue.
At MT Drains & Plumbing, we have experience unclogging even the most stubborn build-up of dirt, hair, soap. Our plumbers can do a complete inspection of your sewer system, solve your plumbing problems, and provide you with professional tips on how to unclog a bathtub and take better care of your drains.

We are the go-to company for drainage-related issues in Vaughan, Ontario, and the surrounding areas and are here to serve all of your plumbing needs. Call us at (905) 761-5551 to schedule an appointment with our plumbing experts today.


Paul S

Paul has more then 20 years in basement waterproofing and plumbing projects experience. Looking for an advice from an expert plumber? Make sure to read Paul's articles about residential waterproofing and plumbing projects in Toronto.

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