Is the water pooling around your feet in the shower? Is your toilet struggling to flush? Clogged drains are the cause of these everyday blunders. For many, they’re inconveniences that cause stress and irritation. You may be putting off dealing with the problem, but without attention the blockage will continue to get worse. Luckily, you can easily unclog a toilet drain or a shower drain if you know the right steps to take.
If you’d rather leave it to the professionals, call a reputable drainage service to help.
But if you’re in the DIY mood, here’s how to remove blockages on your own and get your drain flowing again.
What Causes Clogged Drains?
When the pipes are clear, water easily flows through them. It’s when there’s a blockage in the pipes that the water can’t pass. This results in backed up water in your shower or toilet bowl. There are a few common culprits that often clog shower drains. The first is hair. We all lose 50-100 hairs per day, most of which fall out during the shower. This is normal because the massaging of your scalp as you lather shampoo loosens the strands. The water pressure also causes some of the hairs to fall out. However, once the hair goes down the drain, it can easily get hooked on debris trapped in the pipes. As more hair goes down, the blockage grows and eventually takes up the entire width of the pipe.
Another cause of clogged shower drains may surprise you: soap. Did you know that traditional bars of soap contain oil? Soap companies do this because it makes the soap more moisturizing, and it helps the bar feel smoother in your hands. This can sometimes be a concern; everyone knows that oil should never go down the drain because it quickly turns into a blockage. If you’re using bar soap in the shower, check its ingredients. It may contain oil and be clogging your shower’s drain.
The last common cause of clogged drains is a mineral buildup. The minerals found in hard water tend to stick to the sides of the pipes and build up over time. This usually only happens in homes that don’t use a water softener. If you use hard water in your home, beware of mineral buildup.
As for clogged toilets, you can likely imagine the most common cause. Besides lodged bowel movements in the pipe, another common culprit is excessive toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper is made to dissolve and break down in the water. However, when you try to flush too much paper at once, it can turn into a clump that cannot break down and then gets lodged in the pipes, preventing water from flowing properly.
How To Unclog A Shower Drain
So, how do you unclog a shower drain on your own? There are a handful of effective ways to unclog a drain with DIY fixes. If after trying these options the blockage is still there, don’t hesitate to call a drainage service for help.
*Unclogging a slow drain – If the water in your shower is pooling slightly or not draining as quickly as it usually does, pour a pot of hot water down your shower drain using a funnel. This will help dislodge any slight blockages and break down some of the sediments on the walls of your plumbing. Try this method a couple of times to see if it works for you.
*Unclogging a hair blockage – Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain (you may need to lift the drain cover to do this). Wait five minutes to allow the baking soda to settle into the blockage. Then slowly pour one cup of white vinegar down the drain (you want the fizz to happen in the pipe, not in the shower). When baking soda gets combined with vinegar, it becomes a natural heavy-duty cleaner. Let the mixture sit in the drain for a couple of hours, and then flush it out with boiling water (as above).
How To Unclog A Toilet
With all of these tricks, you will have to flush the toilet to ensure that the blockage has cleared. Remember – if the blockage hasn’t cleared, flushing may make the toilet overflow onto the floor. Keep some old towels on hand, just in case.
Also, use hot, not boiling, water to unclog your toilet; if the water is too hot, it could potentially damage some of the inner workings of your toilet.
*Use a plunger – Plungers are incredibly effective tools for unclogging toilet drains; even professional plumbers use them (before breaking out the big guns). Try using your plunger to remove the blockage.
*Dish soap – If the plunger didn’t do the trick, try this neat DIY trick. Add a couple of healthy-sized squirts of dish soap into the toilet bowl. Let it settle to the bottom, and then add some warm (not boiling hot) water. Let that rest for 20-30 minutes, and then try flushing.
*Baking soda and vinegar – If the dish soap trick didn’t work, then add baking soda and vinegar to your toilet, using the same methods (and amounts) as with your shower. Make sure that the bowl is at least ½ full; add warm (not boiling) water if it’s not. (If it’s too full, you’ll have to scoop some out. Sorry.) Remember to pour the vinegar in slowly! Let it sit for about 20 minutes, and then flush the toilet to ensure that the blockage is cleared.
If these DIY methods don’t work, you can either use a drain snake yourself or call a drainage service. It’s often easier at this point to call a professional for help.
How to Prevent Clogging in the Future
There are numerous ways to prevent future clogging, and they only require a slight tweak of your habits and keeping some extra tools handy.
*Not too much paper – Obviously, you can monitor your own use; but if you have children, you may need to watch theirs as well. If the situation calls for lots of paper, flush before wiping instead of adding all of it to the bowl at once. This allows the toilet paper to break down and not cause a blockage.
*Get a drain cover – You’ve probably seen these in the hardware section, but they never made an impact on you before. This round grid collects hair and other debris so it doesn’t go down the drain. All you must do is clean the cover regularly. If soapy residue is clogging your shower drain, you may want to research other products. Try a liquid body wash or a nontraditional soap bar for reduced buildup in your drains.
Knowing When To Call A Plumber
If you’ve tried some of these DIY methods to unclog your shower drain or toilet and they were ineffective, call in the big guns. A professional drainage service has the expertise and training to deal with your problem quickly and efficiently, and without damaging your fixtures or plumbing.
Allowing a clogged drain to stay clogged can create a health risk. For your families health (and stress levels), resolve clogged drains as soon as they happen. Call a plumber that is fully licensed and certified to provide the plumbing services you need.
Plumbing Authority has been providing drainage services to the Greater Toronto Area for over 20 years. Our team of licensed, certified, and expert plumbers are available 24/7 for plumbing services, emergencies, and repairs. We have the experience, resources, and dedication to keep your drains clear so you can shower and flush stress-free.