How To Fix A Slow Draining tub

How To Fix A Slow Draining Bathtub

A slow-draining bathtub is aggravating, especially if it’s a bathtub-shower combo. While it’s irritating when the bathtub takes eons to drain after a bath, it’s not particularly pleasant to stand in dirty water while trying to shower. 

So, perhaps you’ve decided enough is enough, and you’re searching for guides on troubleshooting the problem. If that’s the case, you’re in the right place. We compiled a few helpful tips and tricks for achieving a quick, smoothly draining bathtub in no time. 

Why Is My Tub Draining Slowly?

A few different things may be causing your tub to drain slowly. Most of the time, the culprit in question is loose hair and various bath products. If you or a family member has long hair, you may want to invest in a hair catcher for your bathtub drain. 

Over time, loose hair piles up in the drain, catching on the drain assembly and causing a blockage. Eventually, the tub may drain extremely slowly or not at all, raising concerns. 

Alternatively, the bath products you use can cause a blockage. Although lovely-smelling bath salts and luxurious, skin-softening bath fizzies enhance the bathing experience, they can wreak havoc on your plumbing. 

Using them every once in a while shouldn’t be an issue, but if you frequently bathe using these products, they may lead to a slow buildup of residue in the pipes, eventually constricting water flow. 

Other products, like soap, can cause a buildup of soap scum that coats the plumbing and other gunk caught in the drain. 

How Do You Fix A Bathtub That Won’t Drain?

Plunger Bathtub

If a slow-draining bathtub plagues your bathroom, there are several methods you can use to correct the issue. Some methods are quick and easy, while others require you to get your hands dirty (yikes!). 

So, before you call a plumber to handle the problem, try these methods. 

Use A Plunger

Plungers are helpful for all kinds of plumbing blockages, whether they’re in your kitchen sink, toilet, or bathtub. Of course, you should use a sink plunger for sink-related blockages, but that’s a whole different story.

Using a plunger is one of the quickest and easiest ways to remove mild blockages in a slow-draining bathtub. Bonus: if it works, you won’t need to use anything else. 

Start by fitting the plunger head over the bathtub drain to cover the entire drain. With a second plunger, cover the overflow drain, ensuring there’s a tight seal. 

Then, plunge the plunger positioned over the drain cover on the bottom of the tub firmly 4 or 5 times. Remove the plunger, then run hot water to see if the tub drains quicker. You might need to repeat the process a few times to dislodge the blockage fully. 

Use Baking Soda

Baking soda and vinegar work wonders for plumbing blockages. It’s a throwback to middle school science, minus the red food dye to create the lava effect. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Half cup of baking soda
  • One cup of white vinegar
  • Hot water

Start by pouring the baking soda down the drain, then follow up with the white vinegar. Allow the two ingredients to marinate and create a fun little experiment in the pipes below. They’ll foam and bubble, helping to dislodge the blockage. 

After about five minutes, turn on the hot water and let it run for 30 seconds. Shut off the water and allow everything to drain. Then, turn the water back on and check for slow drainage. 

Use A Plumbing Snake

Plumbing Snake

If using plungers and baking soda doesn’t do the trick, you’ll need to clear the clog manually. Unfortunately, this part isn’t particularly pleasant, as you need to use a plumbing snake to pull the smelly gunk out of the drain. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Plumbing snake, drain claw, or bent wire
  • Philips screwdriver (as needed)
  • Rubber cleaning gloves

There are two ways you can approach this process: through the drain cover or through the overflow drain. Start there first if you can see hair and gunk caught around the drain assembly. Otherwise, it’s up to you. 

Start by removing or unscrewing the drain cover. Feed the pipe snake down the drain (or through the overflow drain) until you feel resistance when it hits the blockage. Alternatively, you might be able to use a drain claw or bent wire. It simply depends on what fits easily down the drain. 

If you’re using a plumbing snake, turn the handle clockwise and slowly push simultaneously. The snake will snag the clog, allowing you to lift the blockage out. Once you feel it catch on the blockage, carefully remove the snake from the drain without turning the handle.

Then, remove the gunk from the snake (if you’d rather not touch the gunk, wear rubber gloves). Repeat the process several times until nothing comes up the drain on the plumbing snake. Once you clear the blockage, run hot water to ensure the pipes are clear. Make sure the tub drains normally. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I Use A Chemical Drain Cleaner To Unclog The Drain?

Drano Dual-Force Foamer Clog Remover, 17 fl oz

While you technically can use a chemical drain cleaner to tackle a slow-draining bathtub, we don’t recommend it. Store-bought drain cleaners contain potent chemicals that are harsh on the plumbing. 

Most of these cleaners are designed to eat through the clogs rather than dislodging them, which means they can do the same to your pipes. If you use caustic drain cleaners frequently, they will slowly begin to eat away at your plumbing. Eventually, they may cause holes in the pipes, which can be costly to repair. 

Additionally, chemical drain cleaners may damage your tub and fixtures if you miss the drain. They can be very irritating to the skin and eyes, and many folks fail to wear the proper gear, like gloves and eye protection.