Troubleshooting a Bathtub that Will Not Drain

Your bathtub drain will usually get quite a bit of use so it's inevitable that there will be times when it becomes clogged or has trouble draining. Keep these methods in mind when your bathtub drain doesn't seem to be doing its job effectively:


Your bathtub drain must contend with a lot of things such as hair, personal care products, soap and mildew to name just a few. The most likely reason that your bathtub is not draining is because there is an obstruction in the drain. You will have to remove the obstruction and possibly treat the drain with a drain cleaner to break through any debris that is too far down the bathtub drain for you to reach.


Manual or electric snakes are very handy tools for ensuring that your bathtub drain stays clear because they are specifically shaped to fit far down winding pipes.

First, use a screwdriver to remove the drain cover. You will also need to remove the trip lever (the piece that controls whether the drain is open or closed). The next thing that needs to come out is the drain grate (also removable with a screwdriver). Once the drain is clear, place your snake in the pipe and push down until you can feel the obstruction. Pull the snake out and you should have pulled the blockage out too. This process may need to be repeated a few times to remove the blockage completely.


Liquid drain cleaners are the most popular way to clear bathtub drains because not everyone owns a snake or other plumber's tools. To ensure safety, make sure there are no children around when using this method. You also need to wear a pair of dish washing or rubber gloves for extra protection.

Before you pour the liquid drain cleaner down the bathtub drain, make sure that everything you can remove with your hands is gone as this will allow the liquid drain cleaner to work more efficiently on obstructions you can't see. Use the liquid drain cleaner according to the bottle's instructions and when finished, make sure you store it where children and pets cannot reach it.

If, after using the liquid drain cleaner, you feel your bathtub drain is still not working properly, try using a snake and you may see more of an improvement.


Most people only use plungers on toilets but they can work wonders on clogged bathtub drains too. Before you use a plunger, make sure you remove the trip lever and push a wet piece of cloth in the trip lever opening to create more suction. Push up and down with the plunger and it should be able to clear the obstruction quite easily.


An effective and inexpensive way to ensure your bathtub drain remains clear is to use a bathtub strainer. This is a thin disk of metal with small holes in it which is made of wire mesh. Simply place this over the drain and you will see that water can still go down the drain while hair, soap and other products are prevented from doing so.