How to Unblock a Bath Drain

A blocked bath is one of the most common problems in Britain’s households and it’s surprisingly easy to fix, so there’s no need to call a plumber…just yet. By following the advice outlined below, you will learn how to unblock a bath drain with ease.

How Do You Unblock a Bathtub Drain by Hand? 

Now we know that unclogging your bathtub drain by hand may not seem like the most appealing option, but it really works! The first step is to wear gloves. Trust us, you don’t want to carry out this job without any gloves on because it can get pretty messy. Next, you will want to see if you can spot what is causing the blockage. This can be done by removing the waste water cover.

If you can see there is hair inside the pipe that is sitting at the bottom of the drain, it’s likely this clog that is creating all of the problems. See if you can reach in and pull it out using your hands. It sounds disgusting, and we’ll admit that it isn’t the most pleasant job in the world, but removing the blockage by hand will save you time and money, so that’s a bonus at least. 

A household should use one and a half bathtubs of water daily

Clear Blocked Bath Drain with a Coat Hanger 

Coat hangers are an effective way to clear blocked bath drains and are often used on blockages that are harder to reach in your baths drainage system. Most people have a metal coat hanger lying around the house, so this tip is always worth trying. Simply bend the wire coat hanger so that it fits easily down the plug hole. Always send the hooked end first so that you can reach the blockage, twist the coat hanger to hook the debris, and pull it out. The coat hanger method is a tried-and-tested trick but it works every time. 

Best Way to Unblock a Bath Using a Plunger 

Using a plunger is the next best step when you are struggling to free a blockage from your bath drain. The best plunger to use for unblocking your drain is a ‘cup’ shaped plunger. It is always best to use a plunger when there are no chemicals down the drain already as the plunger will inevitably pull all the chemicals back up the pipes and they may splash all over your clothes and skin. So, don’t put chemicals down the drain before using a plunger.

The best way to use a plunger is to plunge in a strong vertical up-and-down motion. Keep the handle of the plunger as straight as possible, without tilting it, to create a seal and strong suction. Use the plunger in 15-20 second bursts before checking the results. Repeat the process a couple of times to check if it’s really working. Plungers are a great way to loosen blockages in the pipe and most of the time, they do clear drains effectively. 

How to Unblock a Blocked Bath Drain with a Drain Snake 

Drain snakes are one of the best things to use when trying to unblock drains. Drain snakes are fairly inexpensive – you can buy them online for £10-£20. When using a drain snake, simply feed the drain snake down the overflow opening. At first you will hit some resistance as you go past the trap, but keep feeding the drain snake in, turning it as you go so that it breaks up the clog or attaches to it, allowing you to remove the clog completely from the drain 

How to Unblock a Blocked Bath Drain with Household Products 

If you are more into natural treatments for blocked drains, we have added in this quick-fix that you can use with products likely already in your home. The best solution to breaking down drain clogs is a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. The combination of baking soda and vinegar creates a chemical reaction that bubbles and fizzes, breaking down the blockage so that it can be easily washed away. 

To clear your blocked bath drain using baking soda and vinegar, start by pouring boiling water down your drain, following by half a cup of baking soda. Let the baking soda sit for a couple of minutes before following it with a cup of white vinegar and a little more hot water. Leave this to work for 5-10 minutes and then flush the drain clean with boiling water. 

Use Chemical Cleaners to Unblock Bath Drains 

If you want to know how to unblock a bath drain from hair, we recommend using chemical cleaners. Chemical drain cleaners are extremely effective at breaking down blockages and they will clear most drain clogs. However, it is important to remember than chemical cleaners should be used with caution. So, once you have chosen the chemical drain cleaner you want to use, make sure the product is intended for your system, use the proper protection, and do not mix the cleaning product with other chemical cleaners. 

Be sure to read the instructions on the back of the cleaning product as all drain cleaning products will have different instructions to ensure the product works effectively. Pour the required amount of cleaner into the bathtub drain, leave for the allocated time (usually 15-30 minutes) and then flush the drain with cold water. If the cleaner has broken down the blockage, you should see the running water disappear immediately down the drain. 

Clean the Bath Strainers and Stoppers 

Most bathtub drains have a drain cover that catches all the dirt and debris, preventing it from passing through and into the drain. However, while this is a great way to keep debris out of your drains, often hair and soap scum can become tangled up in the drain cover, eventually preventing water from passing through at all.

So, if your bathtub is showing signs of draining slowly, it is possible that you need to unclog the drain cover. Learning how to unblock bath drain hair is quite simple; all you need to do is remove the debris from the strainer and thoroughly clean it. If the cover is screwed down, you may need to use a drain snake or coat hanger to hook the debris out. But cleaning bath strainers and stoppers is one of the best ways to keep your bath drains clear of blockages. 

Don’t Leave It Until It’s Too Late 

The key to unblocking any bathtub is catching the problem early so that you can take action before the blockage becomes much harder to remove. By following the techniques we have listed above, you should be able to clear most blockages in your bathtub drains.

If the blockage is extensive or your drains are bubbling, this could be a sign of a blockage much further down your drain pipes. In this case, it is best to call in the experts. At Coastal Drains, we clear blocked drains. So, if the blockage is far inside your drainage system, give us a call. We can provide drain jetting services to clear even the toughest of blockages and get your drains up and running again. 

Author: Greg Child

Greg is an expert in drainage and has been in the business for over 30 years. He's the owner of Coastal Drains Ltd and a very, very friendly chap.

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