Unclogging a Bathtub Drain: Mistakes to Avoid

Unclogging a bathtub drain is a job everyone has to do sooner or later. Hair, dirt and other debris can get caught in the drain, and eventually the water won’t clear properly or even drain at all. Unclogging a bathtub drain isn’t a difficult job, but there are certain methods to employ and things you should avoid to make sure the task goes smoothly.

Commercial Drain Cleaning Agents

Commercial drain cleaning agents are usually a good option when it comes to unclogging bathtub drains. Some work well while others aren’t as effective. The problem is that they so many contain chemicals, the agent wash into the water table and can have an adverse effect on the water quality in a home. Some can even damage the pipes they’re supposed to be cleaning.

It can take up to an hour before you know whether they’ve worked or not and quite often, these materials rarely accomplish what they promise. You can usually unclog a bathtub drain much more quickly that using cleaning agents.


When you use a plunger for unclogging a bathtub drain, don’t expect it to work on the first push. You have to build up a vacuum in order to move the clog in the pipe.

You also need to be sure you’re using the right kind of cup. There are two different types available. One is oval and intended for toilets while the other is round in shape to make it ideal for sinks and tubs. Make sure you have the round kind for unclogging a bathtub drain.

Do not plunge over and over. Never use more than 5 strokes before you break the vacuum seal and give the bathtub a chance to drain. If the tub doesn’t drain, repeat a few more times. Keep in mind that a plunger won’t always shift a clog.


A snake can be a good tool when unclogging a bathtub but you need to know how to use it properly. There are snakes that are designed for tubs which are much thinner than the ones used for toilets. Don’t use a snake that’s too big or the cable won’t go down the pipe.

Don’t try to work too fast as you feed the cable down the pipe. You need to feel your way down gradually and be aware of the way the pipes can turn. This is vital when using a snake for unclogging a bathtub. Don’t expect the snake to completely clean the pipe on the first pass. If the clog is thick, it’s going to need several passes to fully clear it.

Dismantling the Pipe

If other methods won’t work for unclogging a bathtub drain, you might have to take the pipe apart. This is a big job and you can’t just go ahead and take the trap out. You have to have a bucket or pan underneath to catch the water that will come out or you’re going to soak the floor and possibly cause a leak into the floor below.

Don’t rush the job and make sure that you remove the entire clog. Don’t forget to run the snake down the pipe to be certain that there are no more clogs in evidence. It’s easier to do it all at one time rather than have to start unclogging a bathtub drain for a second time.