Bathtub won’t drain? Here’s how to fix it properly

how to unclog a bathtub drain with standing water
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A long shower after a tiring day sounds so relaxing if you have a nice bathtub. But, a slow-draining tub can ruin everything.

When you have a slow-draining bathtub, it essentially means that the water can pool inside your tub. So, you can’t drain the water after taking a shower.

You don’t need us to tell you that there’s nothing more unsanitary and unhygienic than dirty water pooling inside the bathtub. Plus, you can face major plumbing issues and even flooding if you don’t clear the blockage.

Hence, it is best to go to the root of the problem to come up with a solution. There can be several reasons that can lead to a clogged bathtub drain, and today we’ll discuss all the possible reasons for a slow-draining bathtub.

We’ll also talk about different methods to fix any bathtub drain clog. So, without any further ado, let’s dig in!

Why Is Your Bathtub Not Draining?

When you have a slow-draining bathtub, it usually means something is wrong with the plumbing system. If you want to fix it, roll up your sleeves and put on the plumber caps to identify the issue.

In this section, we’ve highlighted some of the most common reasons why your bathtub won’t drain. So, let’s take a look!

Clogged Hair And Soap Residue

The most common reason that won’t let your bathtub drain is hair and soap scum clogging the pipeline. When you’re taking a shower and cleaning yourself, it is only natural to lose some hair while scrubbing.

But all that hair and soap lather will go down the drain eventually, even though most of the time, they are washed away. However, if the hair and soap residue start to gather and block the drain opening, you’ll end up with a clogged shower drain that won’t let your tub drain water.

To ensure that water doesn’t pool inside your bathtub, it is best to dispose of loose hair and soap scum elsewhere so that they don’t clog the drain.

Faulty Built-In Drain Stopper

Every bathtub comes with a built-in drain stopper that prevents water from draining away when you fill the tub to take a bath. The built-in stopper can be a pop-up knob or a trip lever to temporarily block water drainage.

However, if the stopper is faulty, the bathtub won’t drain any water at all. Thus, the water will start to pool inside the tub without any proper drainage. This usually happens when the drain stopper starts to rust, which eventually leads to poor or no drainage.

It can also get blocked due to long hair or soap scum, following which you can use pliers to pull the drain stopper to clean or replace it entirely. Doing this might allow you to unclog the bathtub pipeline right away.

Hard Water Build-Up In Bathtub Drains

If you have hard water with higher deposits of magnesium or calcium, it increases the risk of drain blockage due to mineral deposits. The deposits can erode your metal pipes leading to severe plumbing damage. In that case, unclogging can be impossible, and you might need to replace the pipe altogether.

You can check the pH levels of the water to determine its mineral contents. If the pH value is high, it can be the reason why the bathtub won’t drain, so check the mineral build-up regularly to avoid any serious damage.

However, when the hard water build-up is minimal, it becomes easy to clean the pipes. Plus, you can install a water softener system to remove excess minerals and prevent deposition inside the pipes.

Dirt And Grease Deposits

Dirt and grease build-ups are not out of the ordinary when you’re dealing with a clogged bathtub drain. We often neglect the amount of grease and dirt we wash away every day while taking a shower.

But, all the dirt and grease eventually starts to deposit inside the shower drain, blocking the opening, much like hair and soap scum. If you do not clean it from time to time and let the deposits build up, they will eventually block the pipeline and prevent water from draining.

You can easily avoid such grease and dirt build-ups by using commercial drain cleaners. They can work wonders to remove dirt and grease while unclogging the pipeline to ensure proper water drainage.

Blocked Outside Drain Pipes

While we’ve talked about how inside drain pipes prevent your bathtub from draining water, clogging in outside drain pipes can be a massive issue. Tree roots and branches often penetrate the drain cover and block the outside drains. This can disrupt the water flow, which will prevent all the standing water in the tub from draining.

Furthermore, if tree roots start to grow inside the outside drains, it can lead to pipe damage and affect water drainage. They will obstruct the entire plumbing system of your house, resulting in property damage and significant maintenance costs.

Under these circumstances, it is best to consult a professional plumber who can cut the tree roots to unblock the outside drains, restoring normal water flow.

How Can You Unclog The Bathtub Drain?

Now that you know the reasons why your bathtub won’t drain, it is time to discuss the methods to fix the problem. Once you know what is causing the blockage, it becomes easier to come up with a plausible solution.

We’ll discuss some easy fixes to resolve day-to-day plumbing issues without any fuss.

Using Baking Soda And Vinegar

The combination of baking soda and white vinegar is the most natural cleaning solution when it comes to removing small to moderate drain clogs. It is a pretty straightforward method, and you can do it yourself.

Start with pouring half a cup of baking soda down the drain opening, followed by one cup of white vinegar. Let the ingredients combine for five minutes to create a foamy mixture. The foam will act on the clogs and blockages to loosen their chemical bonds.

Now, run boiling water down the drain for about a minute, and finally, check the bathtub pipeline. You can repeat the entire method till you get satisfactory results since it is ecologically preferable to chemical drain cleaners and won’t damage plastic pipes.

However, using only vinegar and baking soda is not sufficient and effective in removing serious drain blockages. You might still need to use chemical cleaners if there’s any major clogging.

Using A Plunger

The good old hand-help plunger never goes out of fashion when we talk about unclogging drains. It is the easiest and cheapest way to unblock drains as a plunger uses suction power to remove drain clogs.

You can simply place it on the drain opening and pump vigorously, using petroleum jelly on the rim of the plunger for a better seal. Plus, make sure that you fill the bathtub with enough water so that the plunger head remains submerged.

Other than that, the two plunger method comes in handy for removing drain clogs. Place the first plunger on the overflow plate to seal it off while guaranteeing better suction. Simultaneously, use the second plunger to pump the drain opening and remove stubborn blockages.

However, the effectiveness of a plunger in unclogging bathtub drains depends on the drain design and nature of the clog. If the clog is way too deep, the plunger won’t work.

Using Chemical Clog Removers

If you find stubborn clogs in the pipeline, using chemical clog removers is your best bet. They are easily available in any hardware store or supermarket. So, if traditional unclogging tips and tricks are not working for you, just raid your local store to buy a bottle of chemical drain cleaner.

However, be extra vigilant while using these commercial cleaners as they contain harmful chemicals that pose serious health issues. Hence, carefully follow the instruction manual that comes with the cleaners before using them to unclog your drain.

Also, be cautious about the amount you’re using since they can damage your drain pipes if you use too much. Most of the time, you’ll need a small amount of chemical cleaner to unclog your bathtub drain.

When working with these commercial cleaners, always wear protective gear like rubber gloves and goggles. And most importantly, don’t mix two chemical cleaners as that can create toxic fumes. Rest assured, they can remove serious drain blockages in no time.

Removing The Drain Stopper

If none of the commercial drain cleaners are working to unclog the pipeline, it’s time to dig deep and get your hands dirty. You have to unscrew the overflow plate to remove your drain stopper.

The drain stopper opens and closes the drain, allowing the water in the bathtub to drain. It has a plunger that works as a lever to control the water flow but, if the plunger gets stuck, it will restrict smooth drainage.

You can easily adjust the position of the plunger by removing the drain stopper and using locknuts. Furthermore, hair and debris often get trapped below the drain stopper, which can block the water flow.

So, you can gain better access to the drain opening by removing the drain stopper. In that way, it’s easier to get rid of all the hair and debris that’s clogging your bathtub drain and remove standing water.

Using A Plumbing Snake

If you’re dealing with a clog, using a plumbing snake is an inexpensive method to fix a slow bathtub drain. You can gain access to the drain by removing the drain stopper or through the drain opening.

Now, push the plumbing snake down the drain till you reach the clog. The drain snake will work on the clog to loosen it, following which you can turn the handle to bring back the drain snake. Then, run some hot water down the drain to wash away the clog completely.

You can repeat the entire method multiple times until the clog is totally removed. Also, if you’re dealing with serious drain blockages, using a plumbing snake is always a good option.

Call A Professional Plumber

If you have tried all of the above methods and nothing works, get in touch with a professional plumber. Or, if you don’t feel comfortable tinkering with the plumbing system, hiring an expert is your best option.

Even though it might be a bit costly, getting a professional plumber will be most effective in fixing your slow-draining bathtub. A good plumber will come with specialized tools and unclog a bathtub drain without much hassle.

Also, professional plumbers have years of work experience and ensure that you don’t face any long-term plumbing issues owing to your clogged bathtub drain. Hence, if you’re not confident or comfortable with unclogging the drain by yourself, always hire some professional help.

Final Thoughts

We often fail to notice a slow draining bathtub, but it is most likely that the plumbing issues will become more severe with time. Thus, to avoid severe damages, it is always best to take necessary actions when there’s still time.

And after going through our article, we hope you have a better idea about the symptoms of a slow draining bathtub. If you have a clear idea of the causes and symptoms, you can apply any of the above methods to solve the problem.

You can also use a combination of these methods to unclog your bathroom drain and get the water running. But, be careful while using any chemical clog remover as they are highly toxic. Plus, if it’s a severe clog, don’t hesitate to contact a professional plumber right away.