How Do I Unclog Bathroom Drains

A typical bathroom has three distinct types of drains: the toilet drain, the vanity sink drain and the drain leading from the bathtub and/or shower. Each drain has different functions and as such each drain presents a different set of challenges when it backs up and needs to be unclogged. Let's walk you through how to unclog each of these three bathroom drains.

Unclogging a Toilet Drain

For the toilet drain this is probably the one that most of us deal with unclogging at some point during the year. The main purpose of this drain is to take paper and waste products and drain them using the principles of gravity.

The typical drain on a commode is shaped like a drawn out hook turned on its side. This serves two purposes: To prevent sewer gases from entering through the drain and to act as a stop so the toilet can fill with water. The best way to unclog a toilet drain is to use the tried-and-true plunger method.

Usually materials get caught in the S drain, and because of its long design, they need a lot of force to get them removed. If taking a plunger to the drain does not work the next best thing to try is a portable plumbers snake available for about $15 at most hardware stores. This is a long coiled metallic rope-like device that can be feed into the drain to knock free any foreign material blocking it. If your toilet drain is backing up constantly it could be a sign that there are problems further down in the plumbing that need to be addressed.

Vanity Sink Drain

Unclogging a bathroom vanity sink drain is not the same as unclogging a kitchen sink. Vanity sinks contain the same basic type of drain (gooseneck) that kitchen sinks contain but often the bowl surface of the vanity is not designed to handle harsh chemicals such as Draino and other chemical unclogging mixtures.

The best way to tackle a clogged vanity sink drain is to start off with a plunger to see if you can free what might be stuck in there. If that fails to produce the expected results then you should proceed to disconnect the "gooseneck" drain pipe under the vanity and inspect it for foreign matter. Be sure to have a bucket nearby as any water left in the vanity will drain down once the gooseneck is removed.

Bathtub and Shower Drain Unclogging

Finally, bathtub and/or shower drains present a unique problem they become clogged. Since the piping for these drains is usually not exposed we are left to unclog the drain using either chemicals or taking off the protective cover of the drain and removing whatever might be caught near the top.

Most of the times with bathtub drains the number one reason they are clogged is because of hair build-up which can be taken care of by removing the cover from the drain in the tub/shower and then pulling out the hair.

If the clog is deep enough you can use products such as Draino but in extreme moderation. Pour only one-fourth of cup in the drain at a time and let it sit for at least one hour before trying again. Plungers may also be used but because of the relatively small size of bathtub/shower drains they usually are not effective.

Unclogging a bathroom drain is a routine fix-it we will all do at one time or another. Knowing the right techniques for the right drain will save you time and money and possibly help prolong your entire plumbing system.

See Also:

How to Fix a Leaking Faucet