Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023
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Bathtubs are fantastic, though that's no secret. The problem is when you've just taken a relaxing bath and find that the bath is not draining! Possibly the only thing more concerning than a non-draining bath is a toilet that won't drain. Fear not, however, we're here with a handful of fixes that will have your tub dry and clean in no time.
The most common cause for a bath not draining is a buildup of hair and other random refuse - gross.
Luckily, this is easy to fix, and there are three great different ways to get the drain clean and functioning properly in no more than 15 minutes. Keep reading to learn more!
As with most things in life, baths need to be cleaned regularly. If you neglect this duty, you will end up with a clogged tub at some point in your life. So let's get into the nitty-gritty on how to unclog your drain.
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Let's start with the first solution that likely popped into your head - unclog it with your hands! This may seem obvious, but if you haven't tried it yet, it's worth a shot. Begin by determining what type of drain stop you have - push, levered, or drop stoppers. Next, you'll need to gather a screwdriver, flashlight, towels, and those things on your arms... what are they called? Hands! That's it!
As a note, if you have a strainer or plug in your tub, you'll want to remove and clean that, as well.
These usually have an actual knob on them to help you lift the drain stop out of the drain. Generally, they'll be secured with a screw - this is where your screwdriver comes into play. Next, look into the drain. Where is the clog located? If you can reach it, simply grab and pull it out. If not, you'll want to move to our auger section.
These are most common in older bathtubs. They'll generally have a stop inside the pipes, with a lever on the overflow plate of the tub. To open this stop, you'll first need to remove the cover and clean off any gunk on the crossbars. Next, unscrew the plate and pull out any linking metal parts. Clean them off and run water through your tub - does it work? Great! If not, move down to the auger section.
These are in the tap of your bath or shower. Simply open it up, unscrew the stop, and clean out any gunk. Simple as that. Be sure to not lose the screws down the drain!
In this section, we're going to use the term drain auger for the tool you're using. If you've gotten your hands on a drain claw , that's great! They are similar, though slightly different tools (one has a claw on the end). From here on out, we're assuming you've removed your stop already. If not - go back up and follow the instructions to remove your drain stop before continuing.
This is important because many drains have several crossbars and pieces inside that need to be removed to fit an auger.
Onto the process of unclogging your bath! To do so with an auger, do the following:
Let's clarify something upfront that many adults surprisingly don't know - differently shaped plungers have different purposes. That flat-bottomed one you have? It's not for your toilet - it's for the bath. The flanged and accordion plungers are designed for steep sinks and toilets, respectively. So make sure that you have a flat plunger for this next part.
Now, onto the actual steps:
The holiest of cleaning methods has finally made its obligatory appearance. Baking soda and vinegar will, I'm convinced, wash away anything that elbow grease won't. Rust? Yep. Oil? Yep. My deepest fears? Okay, not so much anything - but at least almost anything.
And as a foreword - just as with every other method, remove and clean your stopper before doing this.
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This is a very simple method of fixing your bath not draining. You just need to buy a cleaner meant for bath drains, so reading the label is a must. Follow all safety instructions, remove all water from your tub, and be sure there aren't any caustic, oxidizing, or acidic chemicals in the cleaner. These will directly counteract what you're trying to do here and could actually harm your plumbing.
If none of these work, it's time to call in a professional plumber. Nobody wants to hear it, but they exist for a reason.
Fixing a bath not draining is, generally, an easy endeavour. Begin by removing your drain stop and trying to clear blockages with your hands (or a piece of bent wire, like a hanger). If that doesn't work, you'll need to work through the list of options above, going from a plunger, to an auger, and then finally either vinegar and baking soda, or a chemical cleaner.
Each method has its place - so try them all before calling a professional plumber for help. Pros can be expensive, and it's good to say you gave it a good old college try before giving in. If you find yourself unsure what to do - make a drink, take a seat, and let the pros do what they do best.
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