How to Unblock Your Shower Drain

You’re standing under the warm shower, feeling clean and relaxed, when you look down and see soapy water lapping at your ankles. Eventually, you’re quite literally standing in a pool of your own filth. Far from ideal. 

Why isn’t it draining? 

The number one cause of slow draining shower water is a clog in your shower drain. For advice on how to fix a blocked shower drain, read our latest blog. 

What Causes Blocked Shower Drains?

Most people don’t realise that soap is a big cause of blocked drains. It can stick to the walls of the pipe and cause other debris to stick together, leading to blockages. Dirt, hair and other minerals also contribute to build up which creates shower drain blockages. Blocked shower drains are different to blocked kitchen sinks, as you’ll find different types of blockage, i.e. hair and soap scum rather than grease and food waste. 

 

What Are the Signs of a Blocked Shower Drain?

If your shower drain is blocked, the first thing you’ll notice is very slow draining water. Or, in extreme cases, water that doesn’t drain at all. You might also experience gurgling sounds coming from the drain. 

Shower water that doesn’t drain can pose a slip risk, as soap scum can make the shower or bath surface slippery and unsafe. The buildup of bacteria in the water is also pretty unhygienic. So, it’s important that you tackle any blockages sooner rather than later.

 

How to Unblock Your Shower Drain

Like unblocking a kitchen sink, there are several effective methods for unblocking your shower drain yourself. First, you’ll need to make sure you have rubber gloves and protective glasses or goggles to hand (believe us, you’ll be glad of them when the water begins to splash up). You’ll also need an old rag or dishcloth and a flat head screwdriver to remove the drain cover if necessary.

Next, you’ll need to locate the blockage. Remove the plughole and take a look down the drain. You might be able to spot what’s causing the blockage. If it’s not too far down, you could try removing it with gloved fingers or the end of a coat hanger. But, be careful not to damage the drain pipe. 

If you’re unable to remove the blockage at this stage, try one of the following methods.

Baking powder + vinegar

Baking powder and vinegar are very effective for breaking down grease and soap scum. The reaction between the two produces a fizzing that attacks buildup and can help loosen it from the pipe walls. First, pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain. Next, sprinkle two tablespoons of baking powder (or bicarbonate of soda) down the pipe and leave it for a few minutes. Follow it down with a cup of white vinegar and leave it for five minutes. Finally, boil the kettle a second time and pour boiling water down the drain to flush it out. Run the taps to test whether the blockage is gone. 

Plunger

A top tip to get the best results with your plunger is to run the rubber cup under hot water for a few minutes. This will help soften the rubber to create better suction. If your shower is in the bath, make sure you block up the overflow with an old rag or dishcloth. To use the plunger, place the rubber cup over the plughole. Fill your bath or shower tray with enough water to cover the seal. Firmly push down and pull up to create the seal. Then, quickly pump the plunger up and down. Continue to do this until you hear a sucking sound (this will be the blockage dislodging). Try this several times. 

Drain auger

A drain auger or snake can be picked up at your local hardware shop. For shower drains, look for a ¼ inch cable to protect your drain pipe. Feed the auger down the drain. Once you hit the blockage, turn the auger clockwise into the blockage. This should then allow you to pull out the blockage. You may need to try this a couple of times. 

Natural drain cleaner

Natural drain cleaners contain enzymes that help break down blockages. Plus, they are more environmentally friendly and less harmful than using bleach or other harsh chemicals. You can find natural drain cleaners in most supermarkets or online.

As a last resort, you can try using bleach. However, be extra careful as this can damage your drains and is hazardous if it comes into contact with skin or eyes. 

Some people have reported pouring washing up liquid down the drain working to remove blockages. However, this will only work for grease and soap scum. It will be ineffective against hair. 

How Do I Prevent Shower Drain Blockages?

It hardly needs saying that prevention is better than cure. With that in mind, considering investing in a drain mushroom or additional drain cover to catch hair and debris. Another top tip is to brush your hair before you get in the shower. This will dislodge loose hairs and prevent them from ending up down the drain. 

Minimise the chances of something undesirable happening through our preventive maintenance. For tough to remove blockages or emergency drain unblocking, call the team at Trent’s Drains. We treat blocked drains in Bristol and the South West and our team has years of experience. Call 0117 949 0155 today. 

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