Why Won’t My Bathtub or Shower Drain Right?

A slow drain can be a real frustration when you’re waiting to clean your shower or bathtub, but the water just won’t budge.

A slow draining tub or slow draining shower drain can be caused by a number of different things too, so pinpointing the problem and finding the right solution isn’t always easy.

But don’t worry – that’s what today’s article is for!

We’ll look at some common plumbing problems that may cause a slow drain, and then tell you some helpful tips to help you fix it!

Table of Contents

Most Common Slow Drain Causes

Why Wont My Bathtub or Shower Drain Right

Shower/Bathtub Drain Clogged By Hair

Shower drains and bathtub drains can easily be clogged by hair and soap. As hair makes its way down the drain pipes, it can get stuck in the system, forming a blockage that all the water and soap from your bath or shower can’t pass.

You’ll know that the problem is your hair if the draining gets slower over time until eventually there’s a lot of standing water and the problem is obvious: a clogged bathtub drain or shower drain.

Shower/Tub Drain Blockage Caused By Dirt And Grease

shower drain blocked

We scrub ourselves clean every time we step into a shower or tub – that’s the whole point of them to begin with. But what you might not realize is that all that murky water is filled with dirt, grime, grease, and dead skin cells, and eventually this might be the cause of why your shower or bathtub won’t drain.

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As all the dirt and grime from your body gets washed away down the drain line, it can cause a clog that will slow down draining or stop it altogether.

Soap Scum

best soap scum remover for bathtub

Soap scum is another issue your bathtub drain has to deal with.

Over time, soap scum can build up in much the same way as hair (in fact, hair and soap scum often work together to create a clog), and when this is left unchanged, a larger clog will form and your bathtub or shower might not drain anything at all.

It’s not just soap that contributes to this either – shaving gel is notorious for building up overtime to create slow drains by disrupting water flow.

Foreign Objects

Foreign objects and debris are another common cause when you notice a slow shower drain.

Jewelry, razor shields, rings, and almost anything else (especially if you have adventurous children who might send toys down the drain line on an ‘adventure’) have all been found down drains.

If you’ve been keeping on top of drain maintenance by cleaning it regularly and you suddenly have a problem, then the chances are it’s a foreign object or more debris lodged in the drain.

Septic Tank Issues

septic tank bathtub drain

If your home makes use of a septic tank rather than a traditional home sewer system, then problems with your shower or tub drain might be caused by a clog in your septic tank.

Advice from PlumbGuardian on this is to contact a plumber because they’ll need to unclog the septic tank and clean it using special chemicals to fix the issue.

Drain Stopper Problems

Drain Stopper Problems

Your bathtub or shower/tub combo will most likely have a built-in stopper over the drain opening to keep water in when you want it to.

Unfortunately, this can sometimes become stuck – either through a buildup of grime, a wad of hair, or else because it has rusted and worn.

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If your pop-up drain stopper is only popping up partially or not at all, then it will be acting as a plug, covering the drain opening permanently so the water can’t flow.

If that’s the case, you will need to use pliers to gently pull the stopper out. Then you can either clean it or replace it, depending on how worn or damaged the stopper is.

How Do I Fix All Of These Issues?

Almost all the issues we’ve talked about today can be fixed using one of the methods below. Some require specialized tools, others just tools from a hardware store, and some just things you’ll already have around the house.

We gathered a few ideas from Rider Drains Cleaning & Repairs who have said the method that works best depends on the severity of your problem, but in most cases, one of the methods below will solve your slow shower drain/slow bathtub drain problem quickly and easily!

Pour Boiling Water Down The Drain

boiling water down the drain

Sometimes all you need is hot water or boiling water to clear the problem. Boiling water is great at removing soap scum and dirt/grime buildup in the drain.

Make sure you boil a fair amount of water though, as you’ll need enough water to flush the problem out to unclog the pipes.

The Plunger Method

Plunger Method

If your tub or shower continues to drain slowly after trying the natural solution above, then a plunger might be necessary to remove the blockage and unclog the drain line.

Simply purchase a plunger and some rubber gloves from any number of hardware stores to get started, and then place the plunger directly over the shower and/or bathtub drains.

You can use petroleum jelly around the rim of the plunger too, as this will create a better seal over the drain opening. Apply even, firm pressure, and then pull the plunger up and push it back down as often as necessary to clear the pipes and remove the clog.

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Run water afterward to ensure the drain is clear.

Plumber’s Snake Method

Plumbers Snake Method

A plumber’s snake, plumbing snake, or drain snake (it goes by many names) is the right hand of many a professional plumber.

These long thin devices are designed to head down the drain and pull any debris or buildup out of the pipes to allow water to flow again.

Snake it down to start with. On your first attempt, it won’t go far before you hit the overflow tube, which will almost certainly have a buildup of hair and grime. Pull the snake out, remove the debris, and put it down again, following the shape of the drain carefully.

Repeat until you unclog the drain and water flows again.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking Soda and Vinegar

A cup of baking soda and vinegar mixed with hot water is the perfect solution when your shower or bathtub won’t drain.

Simply remove the drain cover (by unscrewing it and making sure you don’t lose the screws) and then pour the mixture down.

The baking soda mix will help clear out any blockages and the white vinegar will help unclog the drain.

Drain Cleaning Chemicals

Drain Cleaning Chemicals

Sometimes all you’ll need is some drain unblocking chemicals when your shower or bathtub won’t drain.

This is a shop-bought solution that’ll do the same job as the baking soda fix above.

Call A Professional Plumber

When all else fails, it’s time to call a plumber. Sometimes a broken pipe or serious blockage will need professional intervention, so after you’ve tried our DIY solutions and the issue hasn’t been resolved, contacting a plumber for help is your next best course of action!

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