Handling Clogged Shower Drain Problems

Because the shower is one of the most commonly used areas in your house, the drain in that area is more prone than others to become clogged.  Hair and soap scum are the usual culprits, and can cause your shower to take up to half an hour to fully drain.

It is not especially difficult to fix a clogged shower drain if you are having a problem. Just follow these simple dos and don’ts.


• Check your stopper or trip lever

Your shower and tub area may have either a stopper or a trip lever to open and close the drain.  You should check to see if either of these are partially closed before you do anything else.

• Use a plunger

If your drain stopper is open and functioning properly, try using a plunger.  Most people only associate plungers with unclogging toilets, but they are also very effective on shower drains.

To proceed, make sure there is enough water over the drain to cover the bottom of the plunger’s head.  Use an old towel or rag to block the opening of the overflow outlet.  With the plunger covering the drain, use a pumping motion down and up at least five times. The pressure created should dislodge the clog.  Repeat the attempt several times before moving onto the next method.

• Try a plumber’s snake

If you have tried plunging, but the water still will not go down the drain, you can use a simple tool called a plumber’s snake.  This is a long and flexible cable made of steel that is wound around on a handle.

To use the snake, remove the overflow or trip lever plate using a screwdriver.  Push a three-foot length of the snake down the opening.  As you push, twist the handle. This helps move the head of the snake along.  Continue to push and twist as you push and pull the snake back and forth.  This will break up the clog.  Before you remove the snake, run a bit of water to see if the clog is gone.  You may need to work at the clog for a while until it is fully dislodged.


• Use a liquid clog remover

Do not try to remove a clog using a caustic drain opener.  It may actually eat through the clog, but it can be dangerous to use and can damage your pipes.  It is especially harmful if the chemical does not immediately dissolve the clog and sits there for hours.

• Never use boiling water

Do not pour boiling water down the drain to melt the clog.  It can damage sealants or rubber gaskets before it clears out the drain.

For help removing shower clogs, contact Handyman Matters at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a location in your area.