Tips To Open a Slow or Clogged Bathtub Drain

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Bad Cat Solutions, makers of a variety of drain opener products, has some tips for homeowners and apartment dwellers alike.

"With The Drain Claw, all it takes is a simple push-and-twist movement to open a slow bath drain because of hair," says Lou Manfredini, host of the national TV show House Smarts.

Bad Cat Solutions, makers of a variety of drain opener products, has some tips for homeowners and apartment dwellers alike.

The #1 reason for a clogged bathtub drain is hair. The average person loses about 100 hairs a day and most while taking a bath or shower. The hairs get caught on the crossbars at the opening of the bathtub drain and accumulate until it slows or causes a clogged drain. Under the stopper, the bracket also catches and traps hair.

The 1st step to open a slow or clogged bathtub drain is removing the hair around the opening to the drain. The easiest and most effective tool for a slow or clogged bathtub drain is The Drain Claw. Simply insert The Drain Claw into the drain and work the tool around the opening or stopper giving it a twist. With over 100 small interlocking hooks, The Drain Claw will remove trapped hair.

It is amazing how much hair can build up under the stopper in a bathtub drain. If you use The Drain Claw weekly or monthly, hair will be kept from traveling further down the drain and becoming clogged.

For hair that has traveled beyond the reach of The Drain Claw and clogged a bathtub drain, another effective tool is a wet/dry shop vac.

A wet/dry shop vac can pull up many clogs. You will need to cover the overflow above the bathtub drain with a wet rag. The overflow cover can also be removed and a wet rag stuffed into the opening. Make sure to hold onto it when using the vacuum. Next, remove the stopper to the drain if possible. Most are held in place with a set screw on the side of the stem under the stopper.

After using the shop vac, hair and debris can get caught on the crossbars or bracket at the drain opening. A tool like The Drain Claw can remove this. This technique is effective on older homes with drum traps that are impossible to rod.

If you don’t have a wet/dry shop vac, a plunger can also be helpful. Make sure to cover the overflow. A small flat bottomed plunger works the best for bathtub drains. Use a pumping action first, and then fill the tub with water. After pressing down with the plunger, pull up hard to create a pulling action. Pulling the water back is more effective at opening some clogged bathtub drains.

Another popular trick is to pour 1/3 of a cup of backing soda down the clogged drain and then follow that with 1/3 of a cup of vinegar. The reaction will churn up the water and in some cases loosen a clog. For older homes that have a drum trap, this will help with odor in your bathtub drain.

If the bathtub drain is still clogged, your next step would be a chemical opener. Use a base, such as Bad Cat Drain Opener. Bases are much safer than acids for pipes and people.

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Jacy Elsesser
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