How to Unclog a Bathtub Drain with Hair

A clogged bathtub can be a nightmare, but it doesn’t mean that you need to call a plumber every time you encounter one. The problem is often caused by a sticky, slimy thick wad of hair that collects inside the drain. It is easy to remove if you know how. So, read on and learn how to fix a clogged or slow draining tub drain in less than 30 minutes.

Familiarize The Drain’s Construction

First thing first, know the drain’s anatomy. Take note that all drains have the same construction. At their bottom, you will find a curved pipe section called a trap. In bathtubs, this is called a P trap since it is shaped like the letter “P”. As the name implies, the trap was there to “trap” some water in the drain line in order to keep sewer gases from coming up the pipe and causing the house to smell. Over time, however, the trap gets clogged with things like hair and soap scums, preventing efficient water drainage and, sometimes, completely blocking the drain.

Another part of the bathtub drain where clogging can occur are the crossbars, just a few inches under the stopper. Most drains, especially the older ones, have a stopper located inside the drain and overflow tube; these have a screen over the drain and a lever on the overflow tube. The screen was designed to keep the hair out of the drain; however, some gets through and collects at the crossbars, causing the drain to clog.

Clearing Out The Blockage

Tools: screwdriver, stiff wire or bent coat hanger (a pair of tweezers or long nose pliers also works)

The first step in unclogging a drain is to open it and see if you can spot the thing blocking it. Begin by unscrewing the drain’s stopper and sliding it off the shaft. Once opened, use the stiff wire or bent coat hanger to remove the hair. Try rolling the wire between your hands in order to coil the hair around it. Pull the hair out. Repeat the process until all the hairs that gathered on the crossbars are removed.

Using a Plunger

If you can’t see the hair clogging your bathtub’s drain, try using a plunger. Follow these steps:

  • Pour water to the bathtub; it should be enough to cover the bottom of the plunger.
  • Put the plunger over the drain, and push and pull sharply for several times (at least 5 times). The pressure should push the clog down. When you’re satisfied with the amount of pressure you exerted, lift the plunger and see if the water drains quickly.

Using a Snake

If none of the above methods work, get on all fours and try snaking up the drain. For this step, you will need a long flexible steel cable wound on a handle. Begin by feeding about 3 feet of the snake down through the overflow plate opening. You will feel some resistance when you reach the P trap under the drain. You can twist and turn the handle in order to push the cable through the trap. Doing so will clear the clog by either pushing it through or hook the hair unto to the snake and make it easier for you to pull it out.

Clearing a blocked bathtub drain is not hard, but it’s not fun either. So, why not prevent a clog from happening in the first place. It’s no doubt easier.

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