THE DRAIN STRAIN: TIPS TO UNCLOGGING SHOWER DRAINS
Nothing stops a command performance of singing in the shower faster than a clogged drain. But the following tips from North County Plumbing, Inc. could be music to your ears when it comes to tackling the problem.
Most shower clogs can be corrected easily with a minimum of hassle and mess. All you need are a few simple tools and a little common sense.
Hair is usually the culprit when a shower fails to drain properly. In fact, checking the strainer cover that fits over the drain in your shower enclosure may be all it takes to solve the problem. If the perforations are stopped up, clean them out and test the flow of water. If the perforations in the strainer cover are not blocked, don’t panic. All you have to do is follow a few simple steps to remove the clog.
First, determine how the strainer cover is attached. Some covers simply snap into place and can be removed from the drain by lifting them with a screwdriver. Other covers are held in place by a couple of screws, which can be easily removed.
Once the strainer cover is removed, shine a flashlight into the drain and visually check for a clog. You should see water a few inches below in the drain, but if you spot an obstruction, use a piece of stiff wire – a metal coat hanger crimped to make a hook on the end works fine – to clear the pipe. Gently snag the clog with the wire, being careful not to push the obstruction deeper into the drain.
If you do not see a hair clog blocking the pipe, try using a plunger to clear the drain. Commonly known as the “plumber’s friend,” a plunger works best when there is a firm seal around the drain opening. It might help to coat the rim of the rubber force cup with petroleum jelly.
Next, pour enough water into the shower enclosure to cover the lip of the rubber cup on the plunger, and make sure the cup is securely fitted over the drain opening. Then, move the handle of the plunger up and down rapidly.
If the plunger fails to force the clog free, the next step is to try a hand snake. This device features a flexible coil of spring steel with a crank at one end for rotating it. Carefully feed the metal cable into the drain pipe until you hit the obstruction. When you feel the cable stop, crank the handle clockwise. The tip of the metal cable will snag the clog as it turns. Keep up the cranking motion as you slowly pull the cable out of the drain line and the clog should pull free.
If all these steps fail to clear the drain, call a professional plumber.
Drain cleaners can be poured into drains to remove clogs, but these cleaners contain caustic chemicals and should be used only as directed by the manufacturer. Drains should always be flushed thoroughly after a chemical application. Never use a plunger immediately after pouring a chemical into the drain.
And remember, if you choose to use a chemical drain cleaner and then summon a plumber, tell him immediately so he can take the proper precautions.