Got A Clogged Bathtub? Learn How To Unclog It Here!
What clogs a tub drain?
The most common causes of a
clogged bathtub is related to sludge and hair builds ups with soap, shampoo and conditioner.
A clogged bathtub drain is one of the smallest of all the drain pipes that you can find in your home plumbing system. This means that, it can get clogged quickly, especially if you are giving your pet baths regularly in the tub.
What kind of drain is under the tub?
On the bathtub drain page, I wrote that a bathtub has either a drum-trap or a p-trap. And depending on what you have under your tub, you have to be careful when attempting to unclog the line.
What is a tub drum trap?
Most houses that were built over 45 years ago will likely have a drum trap installed under the tub.
The existence of a drum trap turns the process of unclogging a tub drain a bit more complicated.
If your clogged bathtub has a drum trap, it will be almost impossible to push a cable through it, in fact, I would advise you to not attempt to cable through a drum trap, the cable will likely to get stuck inside the metal box.
As it shows clearly in the picture right above, a drum trap is usually located between two sections of a tub drain piping. And the piping is not a straight line which makes cabling through a clogged bathtub with such a drain so difficult, if not impossible.
So, if you try to cable through a drum trap, you will likely to get your cable all tangled inside the box, and consequently, you will have a much more complicated problem in your hands to solve.
Bathtub with plastic (tube) or chrome p-trap:
If you have a tub with a tube or chrome p-trap, you cannot cable the drain pipe through it. If you do, you will break the p-trap and you will have water leakage throughout your home sealing and drywall, which will result on a lot of damages and costly repairs.
Tube or chrome p-traps were designed and made only for sinks. They are made of very fragile materials and, they won’t resist the force of a power machine when cabling through it.
Galvanize p-trap is also considered the right kind of plumbing for your tub, however, galvanized p-trap is narrower inside than the abs glue p-trap which makes harder to push a cable through it.
Is it really the tub drain that is clogged?
Remember that, you still need to know for sure what if it is the tub drain or another drain that is clogged. Why? So that you don’t waste time working on the wrong drain.
I have lost the count of homes that I have been to in response of a clogged tub drain call and that turned out to be a different problem.
I have created a section in this website that talks about how most of your home’s drains are connected with each other.
But let us say that your tub is located in the basement and it is the lowest drain located there and, when you flush the toilet, it backs up into the tub; in this case, your main sewer line is clogged and not the tub.
Let’s assume that a washbowl and a tub is connected in the same line and when you run water in the washbowl it backs up in the tub, but when flushing the toilet nothing happens, then, the tub line is the one that is plugged and not the main sewer line.
If you run water in the tub and it does not drain, then the problem is within the tub drain pipe.
So, once you isolate the problem and you know for sure what it is, then it is time to get the problem fixed.
Unclogging a clogged bathtub:
If you have checked everything out so far and turned out to be ok, then, you are ready to get to the dirty job but, first you need to have the following tools and materials to get the job done right at the first time:
1 – At least a pair of latex gloves.
2 – A pair of leather gloves.
3 – A Phillips or flat head screw driver.
4 – Paper towels, rugs, protection glass.
5 – Make sure you have a ground (GFI) outlet and or an extension with GFI.
6 – A cable machine designed for secondary line, the ideal machine is the 700-machine made by Spartan Corporation and but you can also find similar machines of other brands.
It is time for action:
Inside your clogged bathtub just below your shower faucet handles, you will find a face-plate attached in the tub, normally is screwed in with two long screws which can be either Phillips or flat.
1- Remove the screws from the face place.
2- Pull out the face place. It will come out with the linkage (should come easily).
3- Make sure that your tub does not have another section that needs to be removed from the drain in the bottom of the tub. Sometimes, you will have find a clogged bathtub that contains two pieces of drain plug. If so, remove both.
4- Connect the GFI ground cord in the outlet.
5- Connect the 700-machine in the grounded cord.
6- Make sure you have your latex and leather gloves on; don’t forget your protection glasses.
7- Make sure you are within 2 to 3 feet between the machine and the point of access, for your safety and control of the machine.
8- Slowly insert the cable through the face plate access until hits the bottom, then, turn the machine on and slowly push the cable into the drain.
If you find resistance, this could means that you have encountered a blockage. Slow down the machine but hold the cable steady until it goes through the blockage, then slowly continue to push the cable through the drain until hits the main sewer.
Even if you unplugged the clogged bathtub, make sure that you push the cable all the way until the cable is inside the main sewer pipe.
As I mentioned before, a tub line measures approximately 5 to 10 feet long, so, all you have to do it to estimate as you go through it.
Good luck with your project!