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Guide to Safely and Easily Opening Your Shower Drain

Shower drains can become blocked with a buildup of hair, soap scum, and other debris, causing water to drain slowly or not at all. While this can be a nuisance, opening your shower drain to remove the obstruction can be a straightforward process if you know what you’re doing. Here’s our guide on how to do it safely and easily.

Understanding Your Shower Drain Type

The first step in tackling a blocked shower drain is understanding the type of drain you’re dealing with. Shower drains come in two main types: snap-in and screw-in.

Snap-in Drains

Snap-in drains are typically covered by a strainer that simply snaps into place. To remove the strainer, you’ll need to pry it up using a flathead screwdriver.

Screw-in Drains

Screw-in drains have a strainer that is secured with one or two screws. You’ll need a screwdriver to remove the screws and lift the strainer.

Gathering the Necessary Tools

Before starting, ensure you have the following tools handy:

  • Screwdriver
  • Plunger
  • Wire or plumber’s snake
  • Gloves
  • Bucket and rags for cleanup

Safely Opening Your Shower Drain

With your tools at the ready, you’re set to tackle the blocked drain.

  1. Removing the Drain Cover

The first step to opening your shower drain is to remove the drain cover or strainer. For snap-in drains, carefully insert the flathead screwdriver into a notch or hole in the strainer and gently pry it up. For screw-in drains, use the screwdriver to unscrew and remove the drain cover.

  1. Inspecting the Drain

Once the drain cover is removed, use a flashlight to inspect the drain. If the clog is visible and within reach, you may be able to remove it manually. Ensure you wear gloves for this process as it can be messy.

Why You Would Need to Clean Your Shower Drain 

Regularly cleaning your shower drain is crucial for maintaining the functionality of your bathroom and ensuring a pleasant, clean bathing experience. Below, we highlight some of the primary causes that might necessitate a thorough cleaning of your shower drain.

Hair and Soap Buildup

The most common cause of blockages in shower drains is the accumulation of hair and soap scum. Every time you shower, hair, combined with residues from soap, shampoo, or conditioner, can get washed down the drain. Over time, these elements can clump together and adhere to the walls of your pipes, causing slow drainage or even complete blockages.

Hard Water Deposits

If your home’s water supply is hard (rich in minerals like calcium and magnesium), you might find that mineral deposits can build up in your shower drain over time. This buildup can decrease the diameter of your pipes, leading to slower water flow and potential blockages.

Small Objects

Occasionally, small objects such as bottle caps, children’s toys, or parts of soap bars can accidentally end up down the shower drain, causing instant blockages.

Dirt and Skin Cells

While showers are where we go to get clean, the dirt, skin cells, and other organic matter we wash off can accumulate over time. This buildup can create a biofilm in your pipes, slowing down water drainage and creating a breeding ground for bacteria.

Usage of Oil-Based Products

Using oil-based bath products can contribute to drain blockages. Oils can solidify in your pipes, especially when combined with other elements like hair and soap scum, leading to stubborn clogs.

Clearing the Blockage

If the clog isn’t easily reachable, you’ll need to use a tool like a wire hanger or plumber’s snake.

Using a Wire Hanger

Straighten a wire hanger and create a small hook at one end. Insert the hook end into the drain and start fishing for the clog. Pull the debris out and dispose of it properly.

Using a Plumber’s Snake

If the clog is further down the drain, a plumber’s snake will be more effective. Feed the snake into the drain until it hits the clog, then turn the handle to break up the obstruction.

After removing the clog, run hot water down the drain for a few minutes to clear any remaining debris. Replace the drain cover, and your shower should be back to draining smoothly.

Using Vinegar and Baking Soda

A simple and eco-friendly method to clear minor clogs involves the use of common household items: vinegar and baking soda. Start by pouring a half cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a half cup of vinegar. The combination will create a fizzing chemical reaction that can dislodge minor blockages. Wait for around 15 to 20 minutes to let the mixture work its magic, then rinse the drain with hot water.

The Key Takeaways 

Blocked shower drains can be a nuisance, but with the right tools and knowledge, they can be resolved with relative ease. Always remember to take safety precautions when working with tools and handling debris. If the blockage persists despite your best efforts, it may be time to call in a professional plumber to resolve the issue. Your shower should be a place of relaxation, and a well-maintained drain is a key part of that experience.

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