How to unblock a bathtub drain

Written by bryant harland
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Unblocking a bathtub drain can be a real pain in the neck, but it doesn't always mean you need to shell out the cash for a plumber. What is blocking the drain and how far down it is will ultimately decide how to unblock the drain, and how difficult it will be.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Flashlight
  • Plunger
  • Screwdriver
  • Plumber's snake

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    Unclogging the Drain

  1. 1

    Look down the drain and see if you can tell what is blocking it. If your drain's plug is attached to the overflow plate, remove the overflow plate to get a good look. The overflow plate is usually attached by one or two screws. Just unscrew them and set them aside, then you can remove the overflow plate and drain stopper at once.

  2. 2

    If you can see what is blocking the drain and it is close to the top, you might be able to reach in and pull it out. Built-up hair is a common drain stopper that usually collects near the top of the drain.

  3. 3

    If you are unable to pull the clog out, you can try to plunge your drain. Block the drain with a rag and fill the tub enough to cover the bottom of the plunger. Position the plunger over the drain, and press down and up several times. The pressure might be enough to knock the clog loose. Once you remove the plunger, the water in the tub will drain quickly if the clog has been cleared.

  4. 4

    The next thing to try is a plumber's snake. For a bathtub, you will have to feed the snake down through the opening where the overflow plate was. It might be tough to push the snake through the plumbing. You can turn the snake back and forth to help it go through easier. This will also help knock the clog loose if you run into it–or you could even hook it on the end of the plumber's snake.

  5. 5

    You can run water while using the plumber's snake to see if you've knocked the clog loose. If you manage to hook the clog, pull the plumber's snake out, and the clog should come with it.

Tips and warnings

  • Using a strainer to keep hair from going down the drain will help keep it from getting clogged again.
  • Periodically pour 3 cups of baking soda down the drain and follow with half a cup of vinegar. Let the mixture sit in the drain awhile, then wash by running hot water into the drain.
  • Chemicals are be a common solution, but they can also be pricey and harmful to the environment.

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