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clogged drain

How to Unclog a Shower Drain


May 24, 2020 by Maurie Backman
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Of the various problems you might encounter in your home, plumbing issues are pretty common. And in that regard, renters and homeowners alike often encounter an issue with clogged shower drains. In some cases, a clogged drain can be fixed very easily, and you don't need to hire a professional to do it. But in other situations, a plumber may be necessary.

How to unclog a drain yourself

If you're a homeowner, it pays to try tackling your clogged drain yourself before calling a plumber -- and having to foot the bill for one. If you're a renter, it certainly makes sense to try unclogging your own drain, as doing so means you won't have to wait for your landlord or building super to get to it. But if you can't handle that clog yourself, follow your usual process for reporting problems with your rental unit and sit tight until assistance shows up.

Assuming you're eager to unclog that drain yourself, there are several easy solutions that may work.

  1. Pour boiling water down the drain. If it's a minor clog caused by soap scum buildup, that may be enough to dislodge it.
  2. Dislodge the clog by hand. Your shower should come with a drain cover that can generally be lifted off or unscrewed. If you remove it and reach in there, you may find clumps of hair or another obvious reason for your clog that you can simply remove by hand. It may be a little gross, but it's certainly not a difficult thing to do.
  3. Pour baking soda and vinegar down the drain. A viable alternative to using chemicals is baking soda and vinegar. It's simple: Pour a cup of baking soda down your drain and then wait a few minutes and follow that up with a cup of vinegar. This method could help dissolve the clog. From there, you can clean out your drain with boiling water.
  4. Use chemicals to get rid of a clog. Some people don't like using chemicals in general, but for a stubborn shower clog, a product like Drano may be your best bet. No matter what product you choose, follow the instructions on the packaging carefully to avoid causing damage, and be sure to wear gloves (and, better yet, eye protection, like goggles) to help prevent injury.
  5. Snake the drain. If you have access to a drain snake, or are willing to buy one, you may be able to save yourself a visit from a plumber. A drain snake is a thin, flexible tool you can insert into the drain to dislodge soap scum, hair, or other buildup.

When all else fails, call a plumber

Hopefully, the above methods will suffice in addressing your shower drain clog. But if they don't, you may have no choice but to hire a plumber. Before you do, it wouldn't hurt to call a few professionals and ask for an estimate over the phone. Usually, unclogging a shower drain is a pretty straightforward job, so if you manage to get a couple of quotes, you'll be less likely to overspend in an effort to use your shower again.

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