How To Unclog A Bathtub Drain With Standing Water

Taking a bath can be soothing. Taking an unintentional bath every time you want to take a shower has the opposite effect. Not to mention that standing water can be a magnet for insects. Don’t throw in the towel yet. Before you call the plumber, here are a couple of tricks you can try.

How to Unclog a bathtub

Tools and Supplies You Will Need

  • Bucket
  • Rag
  • Screwdriver
  • Plumber’s Snake
  • Plunger
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Baking Soda
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Salt

Dangers Posed by Standing Water

Even if you’ve had standing water sitting in your bathtub for just a few hours, it can still pose a threat to your health and your home’s safety. Standing water is a breeding ground for flies, dragonflies, and mosquitoes. If you allow them to grow and breed, they will be a nuisance.

Both flies and mosquitoes can carry a variety of diseases that are harmful to both people and animals. They can also spread tapeworms and heartworms. Standing water may lead to the formation of mildew and mold.

Remove All Visible Blockage

You’d want to avoid adding more water to your tub, so you need to take all the necessary measures first. The first step is simple–remove all the standing water with a bucket. Then remove visible debris with your fingers. Put some gloves on first. You’d want to avoid touching icky gunk directly, if there is some.

You may be able to easily clear out everything this way. Hair, soap scum, and bathing accessories can easily make their way into the drain and clog the tub. Many a clog is caused by a huge hairball.

Flush With Boiling Water

If you removed the gunk to no avail, this is another easy trick you could try. Grab a pot of boiling water and flush the drain. There’s no guarantee this step will unclog grease or physical blockages. But, if the clog is caused by a small or right blockage, it’s worth a shot.

If your tub is connected to metal pipes, it’s safe to try it. Don’t do this if you have PVC Pipes. You may melt or soften the joints in the pipes. If you’re not sure what kind of pipes you have, try with hot water instead of boiling water.

Plunge Your Tub to Unclog Your Bathroom Drain

Before you start, make sure to remove any standing water. Remove the overflow cover with a screwdriver. Check the coil first for blockages.

After you remove it, take a piece of cloth and jam it in the hole of the opening. To ensure no air escapes when you start plunging, make sure you stick in the rag tightly. The plunging will push out the rag, so you’ll have to use your free hand to ensure it stays lodged.

It would be best to find a helper who will keep the cloth in place and make things go much smoother. You’ll have to set aside a good amount of time for plunging. First-timers may think it’s not working as it can be quite a slow process. But, invest some effort and time and you may solve your problem soon enough.

When you hear the water starting to drain, you’ll know its working. If your pipe looks clear and the method proves successful, make sure to clear any remaining residue with hot water. If it didn’t work, your next best bet it snaking the drain.

Related: How to Unclog a Toilet

Use a Plumbing Snake

If you are not familiar with plumbing snakes, this may be a challenge, but don’t let it deter you. You’ll need a power snake with a ¼ inch cable. It doesn’t have to cost much. You can rent it at a tool rental place.

First, remove the overflow plate. You should insert the snake in the overflow opening, not the bottom drain. Rune the snake with one hand and hold the cable firmly with the other. Don’t rush it. Feed the cable into the drain–slowly and firmly.

Even if it seems easier, don’t be tempted to snake from the drain. Doing so may break the pipe. Get close to the opening. The cable shouldn’t be more than a foot out of the opening. To make sure the cable doesn’t kink up on you, keep it tight.

Pull the cable back if it starts binding and you feel it wants to kink. If that happens, you have to slow down even more. Such tension can be brought about by a large hard clog. To check whether you have the clog on the snake already, pull the cable out every now and then.

A small bend or hook in the snake may help the cable move past the trap. Try putting a slight bend in the cable if things get difficult.

Usually, the toilet mainline connects with the tub drain in less than 10 ft. So, if you did not clear the clog after running more than 10 ft of cable, it may have gone up the vent line after hitting the trap.

You’ll know the cable went the wrong way if you hear it going up the wall, but it won’t necessarily make a sound if it goes in that direction. Try running the cable in reverse from the beginning in order to remedy this. This method is not guaranteed to work, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any other DIY options left.

Use Baking Soda, White Vinegar, and Boiling Water

Again, avoid using boiling water if you have a PVC pipe. First, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain. Make sure it really gets in the. You can use a funnel or measuring cup to make things easier.

Then, slowly pour half a cup of distilled white vinegar into the drain. After you do that, you should be able to hear and see some ‘fizzing.’ Once the fizzing starts, cover the drain and wait for it to stop.

Vinegar and baking soda make a weird but powerful mix, so don’t be surprised if the reaction looks a bit dramatic. Once the fizzing has stopped, wait for half an hour. You can use this time to boil the water.

Flush it down the drain. If it isn’t draining, repeat the steps. If it is, run hot tap water. There’s one more non-chemical solution you can try if this one doesn’t help.

Use Salt, Baking Soda, and Boiling Water

If you don’t have any vinegar lying around the house, salt and baking soda may suffice. First, pour a cup of baking soda into the drain. After that, mix half a cup of salt and baking soda and pour it down the drain.

Let it sit for at least a couple of hours. It would be best to leave it overnight if you can. In the morning, flush the drain with boiling water. If you see it’s working, flush it with hot tap water.

Use Chemicals

If staple household items don’t do the trick, it’s time to bring in the big guns. Chemicals can be nasty, so this should be your last resort when it comes to DIY solutions. You can buy a clog buster at a hardware store. But first, make sure the product you want to buy is suitable for your bathtub pipe. You need a cleaner that’s specifically made for bathtubs.

The best option for your bathtub may be Drano or Crystal Lye Drain Opener. Make sure to wear gloves when handling such cleaners. Be careful not to splash the cleaner.

Check the label for instructions. Chances are, you’ll have to wait up to half an hour after pouring the chemical down the clogged drain. Unlike with other methods, you’ll have to flush the cleaner with cold water.

Why Are Clogged Bathtubs a Common Problem?

Clogged bathtubs seem to be a bigger problem in some areas than in others. So, you are probably not to blame. It’s all circumstantial.

Many residents are conscious of using less water. And, many people use bathing products that contain oil. So when there’s too little water, plenty of oil-based products, and a bit of hair stuck in the drain, clogs are bound to happen.

Tap water in some areas may have a higher mineral content. It doesn’t pose a threat to your health, but pipes don’t like it. It makes the “water” hard, and hard water is partially to blame for clogged drains.

Preventing a Clogged Drain

Avoid using oil-based bathing products. If you have to use such products, always run hot water and make sure to use enough of it. Always use a strainer or drain cover. When you see that debris has begun to collect, clean the opening. You can use the method with vinegar, baking soda, and boiling water to clean the pipe occasionally.

When to Call a Plumber

DIY enthusiasm is usually good for you. It can help you maintain a healthy home and save a lot of money. Yet, if none of these methods work, it’s time to call a plumber. Moreover, if you find yourself panting while you’re frustratingly jamming the snake cable down the overflow opening, then you should definitely call a plumber and buy yourself some peace of mind. A good plumber should be able to unclog your bathtub drain in less than a day.