It’s one of those inevitable in life: the clogged bathtub. At some point or another, we all experience this frustrating and icky issue. So, it’s important to know what’s causing the clog and some ways to handle it yourself.
This article will talk about the main 7 Reasons why bathtub clogged and how to fix it. The number one culprit is usually hair. But, it could also be things like debris, soap scum and hard water mineral buildup, among several others. The best ways to fix it to use either a plunger or drain snake.
However, if you have a repeated issue with a clogged drain, it’s advisable to call a plumber. While most bathtub clogs are fixable on your own, a professional should handle any serious problems.
7 Reasons for a Clogged Bathtub
There are many reasons why a bathtub could clog up. The ones mentioned below are the most common culprits:
Hair is the number one cause for your bathtub to clog. Anyone with mid-length to long hair or anyone aging, undergoing stress or experiencing alopecia will lose massive clumps of hair. When these go down the drain, they bunch up and prevent water from flowing through.
You can prevent this by keeping a wire trap or grate over the main drain of the bathtub. This will catch most of the hair and reduce the chance of stopping up the works. Also, pulling out hair during a shower and putting it off to the side, rather than allowing it down the drain, will do wonders.
Additionally, make sure you pull out any excess hair from the drain once every few days. This will surely reduce instances of having a clogged drain.
Any kind of debris like wood chips, sand, dirt and other textured grit will almost certainly clog a drain. These will accumulate in the pipes at an expedient rate and will cause a serious issue, especially if you don’t have a lot of pressure coming through the faucet.
If possible, try rinsing off outside prior to getting in the shower when covered in chunky debris. This also means having someone go through your hair to get out any large pieces.
3. Soap Scum
Another common culprit of bathtub clogs is soap scum buildup. In combination with hair and other possible factors, the soap from bars, shampoos and other sudsy liquids will accumulate with time.
You can prevent soap scum buildup in a couple different ways. The first is to watch how much soap you use on your body and your hair, allowing everything to run clean. This means looking at the drain for saponification. When the water runs clear, there’s a good chance it’s clear in the drain too.
However, making sure you rinse out your tub with hot water after using it will help push all the soap through the plumbing system.
4. Hard Water Mineral Buildup
Due to the high mineral content in hard water, it will build up over time in your pipes. This can cause all kinds of problems with clogging. The best way to prevent this is to put a lime scale remover down your bathtub drain once every few months that will be safe enough for pipes.
5. Kids’ Toys
Let’s face it, kids have tiny toys with which they love to explore their environment. Figurines, bolts, doll accessories and other parts from toys have the potential to fit down the drain. If these lodge just right, you’re sure to have a clogged bathtub.
The best preventative measure is to speak with your children about not putting things down sinks, toilets and bathtub drains. However, to ensure they don’t do this, keep the tub drain plugged or covered when not in use. If your bathtub has a door, keep it secure in a way that won’t be easy for the child to get in.
6. At-Home Spa Products
Many people love a nice, hot bath from time to time. It’s wonderful to add things like bath salts, bath bombs, oils, Epsom salts or even flower petals into the water. It provides a relaxing and aromatherapeutic way to release stress and relax.
But, it’s the contents of these things that can seriously cause a bathtub to backup. At all costs, avoid putting chunky bath accoutrements in the water. Be mindful of the particles that comprise these products. Make sure all salts dissolve and that you don’t have huge chunks of flowers or herbs.
Also, even when you’re careful about the size of the particles, don’t add more than is necessary. For instance, your jasmine rose geranium bath bombs are to die for and all of it is a fine powder. But, that doesn’t mean you should add two. Certainly, one will be enough.
7. Other Small Objects
Sometimes, when we shower, we drop a razor cap or a piece of our facial brush falls off. This inevitably goes down the drain and it has great potential to cause a clog in the bathtub. Unfortunately, these things happen but you shouldn’t just leave it.
Once you exit the shower, attempt to retrieve the object. As we’ll discuss shortly, you have many options in which to do this.
Ways to Fix a Clogged Bathtub
There are some ways to fix a clogged bathtub on your own. The one you select will depend on whether there is standing water or if you’re dealing with a slow drain. Consider the methods below and use your best judgment:
The most tried and true DIY fix for a clogged tub is using a plunger. However, this should be one reserved only for the tub. Do not use one you’ve put into the toilet. Also, this will only work if water is present in the tub. So, if it’s a slow leak, fill the tub up again.
You simply put the center of the plunger directly over the drain. Ensure it makes a tight seal and pump the plunger up and down. When you remove it, the water should rush down and flow much smoother.
If the plunger doesn’t work, you can try a drain snake. These are very inexpensive and incredibly long pieces of plastic with teeth on the end. Their design lends itself to getting deep into the pipes while pulling up hair, debris, objects and anything else that might be causing the problem.
There are machine-operated drain snakes, but this is only advisable to use if you know what you’re doing. In the event you’re at a point where you need something stronger to fix the clog, then call a professional.
Baking Soda; Vinegar
For hard water mineral buildup, soap scum and hair, going with the good old baking soda and vinegar trick will usually work. However, this is best to do when there isn’t any standing water.
You simply take about a tablespoon of baking soda and put it down your drain. Immediately wash that down with a cup of white vinegar. See how it reacts. If it doesn’t do anything, pour more baking soda and vinegar followed by a large dose of hot water.
Repeat this process until water runs freely down the drain without inhibition. However, if after a few attempts and nothing improves, you’ll have to resort to a different method to fix it.
Boiling Hot Water
In some cases, a huge dose of boiling hot water will do the trick to unclog a bathtub. You take a large stockpot and fill it with water. Set it on the stove at the highest setting and wait for it to come to a violent, rolling boil. Put on a pair of oven mitts, grab the stockpot, take it to the tub and pour it down the drain.
In severe cases, you may have to do this several times. But this is good for soap scum buildup since the extreme heat helps it breakdown. However, you may want to use this method in tandem with baking soda and vinegar for a good, powerful drain flush.
What Should You Do When All Else Fails Fixing a Clogged Bathtub?
The four main fixes for a bathtub above should work to unclog your drain. However, if you aren’t a plumber or at least have some experience with how plumbing works, then you will have to call a professional for help.
Under no circumstances should you use anything like bleach, toilet bowl cleaner or commercial drain unclogging products in your bathtub. Unless you know what’s in your plumbing system and the materials that comprise the pipes, you may end up causing more damage.
This is because these substances not only have the potential harm the surface materials of the tub itself but they can also corrode your pipes. When corrosion begins on any kind of metal, it’s just a matter of time before a hole develops. Certainly, you want to avoid creating more plumbing issues than you’re already dealing with.