How to Unclog a Shower Drain


Nothing is worse than taking a shower and suddenly noticing the drain is backed up. Luckily, in many cases this can be an easy fix. Use these tips for how to unclog a shower drain and get the water flowing again in no time.

Physically removing the clog vs. chemical solutions

Save any store bought or homemade solutions as a last resort, that way you don’t have to risk splashing harsh chemical solutions in your eyes or on your skin if they don’t work and you end up trying to physically remove the clog anyway. Physically removing the clog is usually the most effective solution so it is best to start there. Most shower drain clogs are primarily caused by hair, and most drain treatments are not very effective on hair clogs. These products may clear whatever else is in the drain, so the end result is a half clogged drain instead of a fully clogged one.

First steps

Put on rubber gloves and remove the drain cover. Some just lift off while others may require you to remove a screw or two. If the drain is in a bathtub, you will need to remove the stopper.  Often the drain cover or stopper will have some hair and gunk caught up in it or directly below it.  Remove whatever you find there. Try running a little hot tap water and see if it goes anywhere.

If the drain is still clogged, the next step is to try a plunger. Leave the drain cover or stopper off. Plug any overflow opening first with a wet rag. This will make plunging more effective. Run the water enough to cover the bottom part of the plunger. Put the plunger over the drain and plunge several times. It may be necessary to do this more than once.  If the clog is removed, flush the drain with hot tap water.

Drain snakes and other devices

There are also some additional steps to take when deciding how to unclog a shower drain.  There are devices designed to grab the clog and pull it out. Long pieces of flexible plastic with teeth can go down the first few feet of drain and grab anything clogging it. Remove the device and it will pull out the clog with it. These are usually only a few dollars at your local hardware store. Alternatively, you could use a coat hanger or other large piece of wire. Undo the coat hanger and bend a hook on one end. Put it in the drain and grab the clog.  Try to pull the clog out instead of push it through to keep the drain from clogging again further down the pipe.

If that doesn’t work, try a drain snake. They are inexpensive and are available in 15 and 25 foot lengths at hardware and discount stores. Insert the snake into the drain and turn it to advance it until you hit the clog. The end of the snake should snag the clog and you can pull it out.

When to call for help

These are the most effective methods of how to unclog a shower drain. If the clog still persists, it is time to call a professional. Sometimes the cause is a clogged sewer pipe, and that is definitely a job that requires equipment and expertise beyond that of the average homeowner.

If you do need to call a professional to get your drain unclogged, A Marco Plumbing can help.  We’ve been providing excellent service to the Toronto and Durham areas for over 10 years.  Contact us today to arrange an appointment.