How to Fix a Shower Drain

Written by contributing writer
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A slow or clogged shower drain can almost always be easily fixed. It only takes a few simple tools.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Plumber’s helper (also known as a plunger)
  • Baking Soda
  • Flathead or Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Plastic bag
  • Augur (also known as a “snake”)
  • Tweezers or hemostats
  • Bleach
  • Rubber gloves
  • Vinegar
  • One-gallon pitcher/jug

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  1. 1

    Remove all standing water from the shower floor. If the drain is just slow, simply give it a little time. If the drain is completely clogged, you may have to use large bath towels to absorb the water.

  2. 2

    Once all the water is gone, remove the drain cover, using a flathead or Phillips-head screwdriver. If the drain cover is permanently attached to the shower floor and cannot be removed, proceed to the next step.

  3. 3

    Position the rubber portion of the plumber’s helper over the exposed drain opening, creating a tight suction. Vigorously move the handle up and down several times, WITHOUT breaking the suction, the quickly lift the rubber portion off the drain opening.

  4. 4

    Clear any debris that was suctioned to the drain opening. You may want to put on the rubber gloves to do this, as this can be quite nasty. Use tweezers, hemostats, or any item that can be inserted (CAREFULLY) into the drain opening to grasp the material and place it in the plastic bag.

  5. 5

    Repeat Steps 3 and 4 as needed until all foreign matter is removed.

  6. 6

    CAREFULLY pour approximately one cup of bleach into the drain opening. Follow this with approximately one gallon of HOT water poured directly into the drain opening.

  7. 7

    If the bleach/water solution does not drain, or backs up completely, it will be necessary to repeat Step 1.

  8. 8

    If it was necessary to repeat Step 1, use the auger (“snake”) to remove any foreign material that is further down the drain and cannot be removed with the plunger. Depending on how it is designed, the auger will either create a stronger suction to force the clog or obstruction deeper into the plumbing system, or will have a lengthy attachment to “snag” the cause of the problem.

  9. 9

    If the augur “catches” something, repeat Step 4.

  10. 10

    This time, DO NOT repeat Step 5.

  11. 11

    Once the clog is clear, whether by using the plumber’s helper or auger, pour approximately one cup of baking soda in the drain opening, then immediately follow with one cup of vinegar. Allow this mixture to bubble and foam until all the baking soda has dissolved, and then pour another gallon of HOT water down the drain.

  12. 12

    Replace the drain cover, and run the shower for a few minutes. If the water drains freely, you were successful. If it is still slow, or still will not drain, it may be necessary to call a professional plumber.

Tips and warnings

  • It’s OK if a little water is left on the shower floor after initially removing the excess. This will actually help the plunger work well.
  • Once the drain cover has been removed, soak it in a weak bleach solution (1 part bleach to 3 parts water). This will remove any dirt, soap scum, or water deposits, all of which may have attributed to the problem.
  • Fit the top of the plastic bag you are using to hold the yucky stuff you get out of the drain over the rim of a plastic bathroom dustbin, and open the bag up in the can. This will keep the bag from collapsing, and will make clean up easier.
  • To determine if the drain cover can be removed, look for visible screw heads. If they’re there, it will come off.
  • It is still possible to fix the drain even if the drain cover is permanently attached UNLESS it will be necessary to use an auger. It will just be a little harder to get all the “junk” out that the plunger brought up.
  • A plastic pitcher or jug makes pouring the HOT water directly into the drain opening much easier.
  • USE EXTREME CAUTION when pouring bleach into the drain opening. Follow ALL label precautions.
  • When using he baking soda/vinegar solution, do not lean over the drain opening. If any bleach should remain, it can also bubble up, causing skin or eye damage, as well as extremely irritating fumes.
  • Take care when removing the drain cover, if it can be removed, so that the surrounding area will not be damaged.
  • Don’t drop the tweezers or hemostats down the drain. That will necessitate the remove of that foreign object and that may require the services of a professional plumber.

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