Everyone has done it. You take a nice long shower, and the water starts rising above your ankles. The drain isn’t clogged, it’s just slow. You can call a hydro jet plumber, or one of those rooter vans, but you want to take a DIY crack at it before you make that call.
Drain cleaners have chemicals that are heavier than water and sink down to the clog and eat away at the stoppage. But with a slow drain, they will just sink right down the drain and keep going. They may be better than nothing, but there are better, and cheaper, ways to clear a slow shower drain.
Use a Plunger
You probably think of a plunger as purely to unclog toilets. But the same plunging motion can help clear a slow drain. This will work best while you are in the shower, so if your drain is slow, take a plunger with you for your next shower.
Wait until the water has risen a bit and then place the plunger firmly over the drain. Make sure the edges are in contact with the floor around the drain and then use sharp, downward motions on the plunger.
Give it four or five good shoves and then release it to allow water back into the drain. You may have to repeat several times to see any results, but if the problem is hair or other loose debris, this may solve the problem.
Send in the Hook
Often, the problem is hair that has accumulated in and around the trap in the drain. This is where the pipe curves back up slightly before continuing down into the main drain pipes. If that is the case, you may be able to grab it and pull it back out of the drain.
Use a screwdriver to remove the two screws holding the drain cover in place and set the cover aside. Bend the hook on a wire clothes hanger into a long sharp U shape. Insert the hook into the drain until it stops against the bottom of the trap and pull it back out.
If the problem is a giant hairball, this will either hook it and pull it out or worst case, loosen it and push it into the trap. Run hot water for a few minutes afterward to clear out any debris and check to see if the problem is solved.
Make Your Own
Drain cleaner is expensive, but there is a very cheap alternative that works well. This method will take care of any other hair in the drain and help strip away soap and other scum that can line and restrict the pipes. Remove the drain cover as above.
Pour a little baking soda down the drain. Make sure some clings to the sides if they are covered with scum and allow some to drop down into the trap. Next pour in enough white vinegar to moisten, but not wash away, the baking soda.
This will set up a foaming reaction that will clean most anything out of the drain. After it has worked for a few minutes. Flush with hot water. Bring up a tea kettle full of boiling water for best results. This is also a good method to use monthly to maintain a clean, flowing drain.
A slow shower drain can be frustrating. But don’t waste money on bottle after bottle of drain cleaner which over time could damage your pipes and lead to a full scale sewer system replacement. Use these methods above to clear your slow shower drain.