You should always have a reputable plumber’s phone number handy, but much of the time a clogged shower drain is actually an easy fix. Even if you don’t consider yourself handy, unclogging that drain yourself can save you time, money, and frustration. There are several tricks you can try before you call a plumber.
First, check for any obvious clogs. If you have children in the home, you might fish an action figure out of the drain with something as simple as a wire hanger. If there’s an obvious clog you can see, there’s usually no need to call for backup.
Here are six other tips for unclogging drains to try before making that call. One of them just might be your miracle fix.
1. Boiling water
Soap scum is a leading cause of shower clogs, and something as simple as boiling water might clear it up. This means hotter water than what your shower can produce: an old-school approach of boiling it in a tea kettle, then slowly pouring it down the drain is required.
It seems simple, but many people call plumbers without even trying this. At the very least, it might unclog your drain enough that you can shower before the plumber arrives in a few hours.
2. Heavy-duty drain cleaner
There are numerous products on the market to unclog drains, but the best approach is to choose one with good reviews and pour it down your drains on a regular basis, not just when a clog occurs. A bi-monthly chemical cleaning will help fight buildup before it becomes serious.
Talk to your local home repair salesperson to choose the right one for you. It might make a difference, depending on your pipes and region.
3. Baking soda and vinegar
If the thought of dangerous chemicals in your pipes (and potentially on your hands and in your tub) scares you, that’s perfectly understandable. An all-natural solution of equal parts baking soda and vinegar does the same thing, and it’s also much more affordable.
You don’t have to worry about chemicals getting on your skin, and you don’t have to be concerned about taking a bath afterward. It might not be as strong as some store solutions, however.
4. Dish detergent
Dish detergent is known for being gentle on hands, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a powerful cleaner. Some people use simple detergent as a means to keep pipes clean.
It’s another option for regular cleanings, and you can use it up to once a week. It’s also a lubricant, and can be used in conjunction with the boiling water to prep the pipes. Try it as a multi-functional tool.
5. Snake yourself
A drain snake is a staple in the plumber’s arsenal, but it’s actually pretty easy to use. There are numerous how-to videos, and you can pick up a snake at the local store for a bargain.
However, there is a risk of scratching and maybe even damaging your pipes if you don’t follow the directions. You also need to be prepared to see some pretty nasty stuff pulled out of the pipes.
6. Salt and baking soda
This is another solution that, when mixed in equal parts, can dissolve some serious buildup. Pour it down the drain, let it sit for 20 minutes, then follow with boiling water. You can also use this at any time and not just for big problems.
No matter what, having the right equipment is paramount. Choose quality, and that’s the kind of results you’ll get. You don’t necessarily need professional plumber’s supplies, but a few key pieces like a snake and rubber washers can work wonders.