How to Unclog a Bathtub?

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Bathtub won’t drain

To effectively solve the problem of what to do when the water in the bathtub won’t drain, you should know the causes of blockages in order to prevent them, folk, traditional and modern high-tech cleaning methods.
As a rule, any owner can cope with the clogging of the sewer on their own without calling a plumber thanks to mechanical devices and modern chemicals. Unlike the clogging of the sewer riser, which causes emergency situations with the inability to use the sewage system for all residents along the riser, the lack of drainage from the bathroom is not so catastrophic and can be eliminated gradually over a period of time. Clogged bathroom sinks might also appear to be a problem.

Table of Contents

  1. Causes of clogged bathtub and their types
  2. Mechanical cleaning when bathtub won’t drain
  3. Hydraulic cleaning if bathtub won’t drain
  4. Chemicals for slow draining bathtub
  5. Prevention

Causes of clogged bathtub and their types

Unlike the clogged kitchen sink, in which dishes with food particles are constantly washed, the bathtub gets clogged much less often for the following reasons:

  • The main source of blockage, in which the water in the bathroom does not go well, is women’s long hair, falling into the pipes from the siphon grate, which holds them for some time.
  • If pets are kept in an apartment or a private house, then when they are washed, wool falls out of them, subsequently clogging the sewer.
  • When washing clothes in a washing machine, many pour water into the bathtub, while all the dirt and large particles of debris fall into the siphon and pipes, clogging the passage channel.
  • Also, when washing linen in the bathroom or draining dirty water from the washing machine, pellets and fluff from linen and clothes get into the sewer system, preventing the wastewater from leaving.
  • Drainage of contaminated water from apartment cleaning or liquid food waste from home drinks into the bathtub can also clog the bathtub.
  • Concomitant factors that cause frequent blockages are errors in the installation of siphons and the drainage system (low slope), in which the drains stagnate in the pipes, contributing to more intensive clogging of the passage channel with dirt. Improper installation is also the cause of malfunctions when water does not leave the bathroom well, and there is no blockage in the pipe.
  • Misuse is another factor contributing to the clogging of the bathroom drain. If a shower cabin and a bathtub are installed in the room, then the first one with the inclusion of hot water is used more often, and the bathtub, in the absence of a sink, is used for washing and brushing teeth. At the same time, cold water mainly flows through the pipes, which contributes to the adhesion of fat to the inner walls – this reduces the cross-section of the passage channel and contributes to frequent blockages.

If you think that only the bathtub can be clogged – we should tell you that even with a diy hot tub you can face such a deal like clogging.

To combat poor permeability of pipes, various methods are used, depending on their type, the following types of blockages are most common:

Mechanical – The passageway is clogged with solid objects – buttons, stones, small metal fragments (coins, shot), plastic particles, insoluble in chemicals.

Technological – The most common type of blockage, in which pipes become clogged with hair and animal hair, lint and small particles of tissue, can be dissolved with household chemicals.

Chemical – Clogging of pipes with fat after washing dishes is more inherent in kitchen sinks, but sometimes it also appears in the bathroom with the constant use of only cold water, draining fat-containing liquids.

Mechanical cleaning when bathtub drain clogged

In an apartment or an individual residential building, the distance from the bathtub to the riser cannot be large for technological reasons – for drainage, pipes need a slope of at least 20 mm per linear meter and, with a great distance, they will go deep into the floor or end up under it. Therefore, any simple mechanical devices can be effectively used to clean an area 1 – 2 m long.

A wide range of plumbing cables is sold in the trade network, their usual form is a rigid spring of different lengths with a handle for holding, at the working end there is a different type and principle of action of the nozzle. The tip can be in the form of a brush, a pointed lance, a spiral, an expandable whisk. When the water does not leave the bath, the blockage is removed with a plumbing cable for mechanical cleaning as follows:

  • Push the cable into the drain hole and rotate it in a circle to move it forward to the maximum distance.
  • After the handle rests against the drain, move the cable several times in the forward and reverse direction, then remove it from the pipeline.
  • Then turn on hot water, rinse the sewage pipes together with the cable and repeat the cleaning manipulations again.

It should be noted that with this method, due to the presence of a siphon having a curved U-shape, it is not very convenient to use the cable, therefore it is better to remove the siphon branch. After dismantling, the siphon assemblies are washed and cleaned of dirt, which is more rational than cleaning it without disassembling. At the same time, the use of the cable becomes much easier and becomes more efficient – the work takes less time.

For professional mechanical cleaning of the sewage system, expensive electromechanical equipment is used with the supply of a spring cable into the channel with simultaneous rotation; this type of unit is used to clean long sewer lines and rarely resort to their help when eliminating clogging of sewer pipes from bathtubs.

how to unclog a bathtub drain

How to unclog a tub with hydraulic

Before the overwhelming majority of homeowners, the solution to the problem of when the bath is clogged and how to clean it if there is water is not particularly difficult – in every house or apartment there is a simple plunger that allows you to quickly remove the blockage anywhere. The device is a hemispherical rubber valve with a vertically mounted handle; when the handle is pressed and lowered down, the valve is compressed and pushes out the air underneath.

For professional cleaning, there are analogs of a household plunger, which are an elastic valve that does not compress during operation – air is supplied to it by a piston, similar to a bicycle pump.

The principle of clearing blockages in the bathroom with a plunger is quite simple and consists of several operations:

  • Turn on hot water at full capacity to fill the sewer system, put a plunger on the drain hole.
  • Reciprocating movements periodically push the handle, forcing the water inside the pipes to move back and forth.
  • After 5 – 10 cycles of lowering the plunger handle, it is removed, hot water is again poured into the drain hole and the operation is repeated.

For more effective cleaning, you can additionally use any chemical agents poured into hot water: washing powders, special chemical compositions for dissolving mud deposits.

clogged bathtub

Hydrodynamic cleaning of clogged bathtub

Removing blockages with a plunger is widely used at home, the effectiveness of the method is not too high due to the low speed and low pressure of the water flow on contamination. For professional cleaning work with water, electrical installations are used in which liquid is supplied to the channel under pressure through a hose. A high-pressure plunger pump is used as a pressure unit; in professional installations, pressure regulation and control is provided, and a reel is placed on which the hose is wound.

At home, you can make an analogue of a professional hydrotreating system using water supplied with the pressure of the common house network, however, this will require some work. It will be necessary to make an adapter from the supply pressure hose (for example, a tube for medical droppers) to the threaded branch pipe of the gander, into which the filter aerator is screwed. The efficiency of such a design is low, since water is supplied only forward, therefore, the outlet of the tube should be welded, and holes should be made in the side walls so that water under pressure enters the contaminated inner shell of the sewer pipes.

The process of hydraulic cleaning with an industrial device is carried out in the following way, and can be used for clogged bathroom sink and clogged kitchen sink too:

  • Insert the pressure hose into the sewer pipe (the siphon is removed and rinsed beforehand) and the pump is turned on for supplying water under pressure.
  • The hose is slowly moved along the length of the entire pipe, when it reaches the extreme point, it is also slowly pulled back.
  • The procedure can be repeated several times, at the end of the work put the siphon in place and check the drain.

Chemicals for slow draining bathtub

On the market of household chemicals for cleaning sewer pipes, products from rose manufacturers are widely represented and they are well known to the consumer. Household chemicals are produced in the form of powders, granules, liquids, gels, and have a different chemical composition, the cost of the compositions differs by an order of magnitude.

Note: All chemical preparations can be divided into two groups according to the active components contained in them: acidic and alkaline, for cleaning baths it is better to use preparations with acid that corrodes hair and cellulose.

When using household chemicals to eliminate blockages, you should strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions on their packaging, usually the drug is poured or poured into the drain hole, and after a while it is washed off with water.

A lot of videos have been posted on the Internet about how to clean bathtubs with folk remedies: vinegar, caustic soda, acetic acid in combination with baking soda, cleaning agents for electric heaters (heating elements), ovens. Some authors propose to use washing powder poured into pipes for a long period of time (from night to morning) as a cleaning agent. It is clear that when using these folk methods, there can be no talk of dissolving hair, animal hair and cellulose, which make up the bulk of blockages in the bathroom, so their effectiveness approaches zero.

shower drain cleaner


To prevent blockages in the bathroom, it is useful to use the following methods:

  1. Install a fine mesh in the drain hole to retain debris, hair, animal hair.
  2. If hot water is drained into the bath after washing the laundry, do not forget to use a plunger at this time for preventive cleaning of pipes.
  3. It is useful to periodically clean the piping system of the entire apartment once every six months (year) using household chemicals.

The main reason when the drain in the bathroom is broken (slow draining tub) is the clogging of the passage channel with debris from hair, animal hair, paper, particulate matter and other dirt that has got into it. Often you have such a problem with clogged dishwasher – but all this stuff can be solved.The simplest and most affordable method of removing blockages in everyday life is to use a plunger; in severe cases, mechanical cleaning with a plumbing cable in the form of a spiral wire with a whisk or a hard brush at the end is effective.

To dissolve organic deposits, you can use potent drugs like Pothan, but you should be careful – there are cases when aggressive chemical components in its composition damage pipes.


Date: 16.08.2021

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