Most clogged shower drains 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 little holes are stopped up, clean them out and test the flow of water. If the holes 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.

Unclogging Your Shower Drain

First, determine how the shower 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. But be careful not to drop the little screws down the drain.

Once the strainer cover is removed, shine a flashlight down the clogged drain and check for the blockage. 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, technically known as a “plumber’s helper,” to clear the drain.

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. A hand snake features a flexible coil of spring steel with a crank at one end for rotating it. Carefully feed the metal cable into the drainpipe 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.

These same tactics can be used on bathtubs, lavatory, and kitchen sink drains as well.

Stop Clogged Drains Before They Happen

And be sure to take preventative measures to keep your shower and other drains from clogging in the future by being mindful of what you pour down the drains. Catch hair as you shower and toss it in the trash can afterwards. Hair can clog sink drains, too, so be sure to collect any stray hairs (no matter how few at a time) and toss those as well. 

Many clogged drains can be prevented simply by thinking through what’s going into your drain in the first place.

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