When we think of clogged drains and plumbing problems, we most frequently think of toilets and kitchen sinks, but one of the most common drains to cause problems in a home is the bathtub. To avoid drain problems and to help fix any problems that might crop up, here are some tips for how to handle your finicky bathtub drain.
How the Bathtub DrainWorks – A Bathtub drain works the same as the other drains in your home with a simple trap that ensures the safe transfer of water out of your home and blockage of sewer gasses from getting into your home. The drain itself is frequently open with a small crack – roughly a quarter-inch – beneath a larger drain plug that can be lowered when you fill the tub. While the space is not large enough for objects like a bar of soap to enter, it is plenty large enough for hair, soap scum, and other small objects from a bath or shower to enter and start clogging that trap.
Cleaning the Drain – To cut down on how much hair and gunk actually gets into the drain you should take off the entire drain mechanism once a week and remove any excess hair. You should also use some form of wire devices like a bent coat hanger or scrubber to reach in and remove any hair you can reach. There are specific plumbing devices to help with this as well, but a hanger works just fine assuming you do not have a heavy clog. It is also a good idea to run boiling water through your drain once every week to clear out any soap and hair build-up. While most soap is water-soluble, it can create a thick, greasy clog when combined with hair. Hot water can help to remove it before a clog occurs.
If a Clog Occurs – If a clog does occur, you should use the hot water method along with a plunger to try and clear out as much of the clog as possible. Avoid chemical use at all costs. Bathrooms are usually small rooms and even with the fan on, the fumes can be dangerous and the chemicals caustic on your pipes and tub. Baking soda and vinegar often help for small clogs, but otherwise, you should move on to a snake for physical clog removal.
If you have a clog deeper than the snake can reach or that you simply cannot affect with the tools listed above, it may be necessary to call a professional who can track your clog into the pipes and find where the root of the problem is. It might be just too deep in your drainage pipe or it could be a completely different area of your plumbing system.