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How to Unblock a Bath Drain

Updated February 21, 2017

There is nothing worse than taking a shower in a bathtub with a blocked drain. Standing there with your feet covered in dirty water doesn't seem very refreshing. You think about calling a plumber, but that costs too much money. Instead, you convince yourself that you need to do the job or eventually drown in your own bath. Fortunately, unblocking a bath drain is easy for the novice do-it-yourselfer to complete in a matter of minutes.

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  1. Remove and clean the bath stopper. This is the plunger that you use to block the drain when taking a bath. These plungers, or lift and turn stoppers, are notorious for causing blockages. To remove one, close the stopper and use a pair of pliers to turn the stopper counterclockwise until it comes loose. Slowly pull up on the stopper, then clean the hair and gunk off iof it. Run water in the tub. Iif it does not drain properly, you will need to dig a little deeper.

  2. Dig out the hairball from the drain. If you look closely inside the drain, you will see strands of hair wrapped around the cross bar down inside of the drain opening. The hair you can see is part of a larger ball of hair deeper in the drain line. Several tools can be used to grab hold of these hairs and remove the hairball: tweezers, needle nose pliers and a wire coat hanger, for example. Using one of them, grab the hairs and pull slowly. You will begin to see a large wad of hair resembling a small rodent emerging from the drain. Once you remove the blockage, run water again to see if the drain is flowing freely. If not, chemicals may be the answer.

  3. Pour a drain cleaning chemical down the drain. Some drain blockages are farther down the line than you will be able reach with the tools you have on hand. Fortunately, you can find a vast array of drain cleaning liquids and crystal drain openers at your local hardware store or home centre. Use your best judgment as to which chemical will work best for your situation. When pouring any drain cleaning chemical in your bathtub, use a disposable plastic funnel to protect the tub's finish from any accidental chemical splatter.

  4. Tip

    Sometimes leaving the drain cleaning chemicals in the drain line overnight will allow it more time to work. Sterilise any tools that you use, as you never know what kind of germs are growing in a drain.


    Always follow the manufacturer's safety instructions when using a drain cleaning chemical.

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Things You'll Need

  • Needle nose pliers
  • Plastic funnel
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Tweezers
  • Wire coat hanger

About the Author

Kelly Schuler is both a writer and a plumber. He self published "Plumbing Do's and Dont's" in 1999. Schuler has been a licensed plumbing and gas-fitting contractor since 2001 and a licensed journeyman plumber since 1986. He actively owned and operated his own plumbing and gas fitting business from 2001 to 2008.

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