Perhaps your shower drain is clogged, and you’re pretty sure there’s a slimy clump of hair hanging out just out of sight. To remove said clog, you need to remove the clog. Maybe you’ve been working up the courage to finally remove the drain cover to reveal the slimy monster beneath, so now you’re ready.
Showering in a few inches of dirty water isn’t the best feeling, so you decide today’s the day. You gather what you think you might need and head to the drain, only to find out there aren’t any visible screws. So, now what? The motivation to tackle the task is quickly waning, so what should you do?
Removing the drain cover is usually the easiest (and least nasty) part of the process. Here’s how to do it.
What Types Of Shower Drain Covers Are There?
Shower drain covers come in a few different varieties. Properly identifying the type of drain cover in your shower is the vital first step of this process, so let’s take a look at a few common drain cover types.
- Lift and turn: This drain cover usually doesn’t feature any visible screws, making it tricky to remove. Sometimes, there’s a screw hidden beneath a cap. Luckily, it’s one of the easiest to remove.
- Toe touch: This type seems almost impossible to remove, as there aren’t any obvious removal options. It functions by opening and closing with a light push, allowing you to trap water in the bathtub.
- Pop-up: These covers are straightforward to remove. There is some variation here, as some have a rocker arm that requires a different removal method (which can be confusing).
- Push and pull: These drain covers are straightforward – push them down to block the drain, and pull them up to drain water.
- Trip lever: These drain covers can be more confusing, especially considering the two separate pieces you need to remove. There’s a stopper that uses a plunger in the overflow pipe and moves up and down to block drainage.
- Flip it: These drain covers feature a level that you flip to either side to allow it to drain or not. They feature a unique design that is easy to spot.
How To Remove A Shower Drain Cover
Just because there aren’t any visible set screws on your shower drain cover doesn’t mean it’ll be hard to remove. In fact, most of these drain covers are incredibly easy to remove. Here’s how to remove each type.
Lift And Turn
Lift and turn drain covers are the most common of the bunch. These may or may not require any tools to remove. If you do need tools (depending on the exact design), here’s what you’ll need:
- Flathead screwdriver
- Pair of needle-nose pliers
Start by lifting your drain into the open position. Next, turn the drain cover base counterclockwise (not the knob) until you feel resistance. Once you encounter resistance, keep an eye out for a small screw at the bottom of the drain cover. Lift the cover slightly, which should expose the screw.
Use a screwdriver to remove the cover entirely. Carefully lift the cover off the drain – don’t lose the screw!
Pop-Up And Toe-Touch
These two drain cover types feature slightly different designs, but the removal process is the same. All you’ll need for the removal process is a flathead screwdriver.
Maneuver the drain cover into the open position, then twist the lid of the cover until it comes off. With the lid out of the way, you’ll see a screw at the base of the drain cover. Using your screwdriver, unthread the screw and lift the drain cover off the drain opening.
Push And Pull
These drain covers operate similarly to toe-touch drains but aren’t quite as simple to remove. While it isn’t a complex process, you’ll need a few more tools. Here’s what you need:
- Flathead screwdriver
- Pliers or a wrench
- Hand towel or rag
Pull the drain into its open position, then unscrew the little knob on the drain stopper. You might have to hold the disc of the drain cover while you unscrew the little knob. A towel can give you a bit of extra grip if you need it.
Once you remove the knob, set it aside. Now, you should see a square opening inside the drain cover, where there’s a screw. Insert the screwdriver and unthread the cover by rotating counterclockwise. Now, you can remove the drain cover by lifting it up and out of the drain opening.
These drain covers are relatively simple to remove, so you should only need a flathead screwdriver for this process. Simply flip the drain into the open position, then pull the drain to locate the groove.
Once you find the groove, insert the screwdriver, then apply slight pressure. Now, you should be able to lift the drain cover away from the drain, allowing you to clean the drain.
Trip lever drain covers are a bit more tricky to remove than other popular ones. There are two separate pieces of the drain assembly, so you need to remove each of them. Despite the more involved process, a flathead screwdriver is all you need to remove the assembly.
Start by using your screwdriver to unthread the lever on the bathtub wall. Once you unscrew the lever, remove the stopping mechanism from the wall with a gentle tug. This mechanism goes down into the drain and is one part of the entire assembly.
Now, unscrew the grated drain cover covering the drain base. Once that’s out of the way, you should be able to remove the entire drain cover.
How To Unclog A Shower Drain
After you figure out how to remove the shower drain and remove it to expose the problem, it’s time to tackle the clog. There are a few ways to do this, some easier than others. For a detailed guide to the process, glance through our guide.
You’ll probably want to use a pair of rubber gloves, as the gunk you pull out of the drain will be rather smelly and slimy.
Here’s a quick overview of your options:
- Use a wire hook: If you see a clog in the drain, use a wire hook to grab and lift it out. You can use a wire hanger or a piece of stiff wire bent into a small hook to reach in and hook the hair.
- Use baking soda and vinegar: This method is excellent for smaller clogs but not so effective with total blockages. Pour one cup each of baking soda and vinegar down the drain, then give it about five minutes to react. Then, pour hot water down the drain to flush the residue away.
- Use a plunger: A plunger can create the suction you need to dislodge the clog in the drain. Plunge the drain a few times to dislodge the clump of hair, then remove it with a wire hook, drain snake, or plumbing auger.
- Use a plumbing auger: Sometimes, a wire hook isn’t long enough to reach the clog. In this case, use a drain snake or plumbing auger to reach further into the drain and remove the clog. Insert the snake into the drain, then twist the handle once you meet resistance to catch the clog. Remove the snake, clean the cable, then continue repeating the process until the debris is gone and the drain is clear.
How To Prevent Clogs In The Shower Drain
Cleaning the nasty, smelly gobs of gunk from the drain isn’t a fun process by any means. So, to avoid repeating the process regularly, prevent the problem in the first place. The best way to do this is with a shower drain hair catcher. There are a few different varieties available but look for one compatible with your shower drain.
You’ll have to empty or clear the cover periodically, but it’s better to easily remove the gunk above the drain than dig for it.