You’ve been using a plunger to break up toilet clogs, and the tool has always worked like a charm. So, when you discover that your shower drain is clogged, you decide to give plunging a try. After all, it’s what has always worked in the past.
You grab the plunger, place it over the drain, and give it a few good pumps. The water starts to go down the drain. A smile is already forming on your face, thinking that you’ve just saved yourself a call to the plumber. But then, all of a sudden, water backs up and spills out onto the floor. You’ve worsened the situation and now have a bigger mess.
You’re left wondering about the science behind what you just witnessed. You’ve in the past successfully used a plunger to disintegrate clogs. But this time round, the outcome suggests that plunging shower drain made it worse. What could be the reason? Well, read on to discover why this is so.
Can Plunging Drain Make Clogs Worse?
Yes, in some cases, plunging a drain can make the clog worse. A plunge exerts pressure on the clog, breaking it up and sending it down the drain. But when using it for drain, it’s more likely to send the clog deeper down when still intact, causing the problem to worsen.
Every homeowner will agree that if there’s one tool that saves them from the cost of hiring a plumber, it’s the plunger. It only uses a simple concept to work, but it does go a long way in solving various clogging problems in the house.
That’s why when you walk into any toilet, one thing you’re likely to find is a plunger. It’s one tool we can’t do without. And yes, while it works magic when disintegrating toilet clogs, the same can’t be said when used on a shower drain.
For toilets, the plunger generates a vacuum that’s strong enough to break up the clog and send it down the drain. But for shower drains, the pressure that this tool creates just isn’t enough to dissolve the matter causing all the trouble.
Instead, the air pressure created will only push the clog further down, making things even worse. So, if you just pumped your shower drain and noticed water backing up, know it happens!
What Causes Shower Drain Clog?
Anything outside water that can find its way into the drain can cause a clog. That includes hair, soap scum, hard water, tree roots, and many others. But of all these, hair is often the primary reason people experience problems with their shower drains.
We really can’t attribute shower drain clog to one thing. What has caused your shower drain to clog this time could be different from what caused it to block last time, and what will probably cause it to jam the next time – God forbid!
Even so, we have some more likely culprits when it comes to shower drain clogs. Let’s take a look at each of them;
Hair is the number one reason behind most shower drain clogs. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a man or woman. Even if you don’t have long hair, the hair on your head alone can cause a clog.
How? Well, every time you wash your hair in the shower or shave your pubes, hair strands always go down the drain. And because they’re often sticky, they easily adhere to soap scum and other matter, forming a clog.
This is why you often find hair when unclogging your shower drain. Even if you don’t have long hair, the hair on your head is usually enough to cause a clog.
2. Soap Scum
Soap scum usually forms when hard water reacts with soap. And while it may look too harmless to cause any problems, it actually creates a very tough barrier that can cause clogs.
The scum usually sticks to the sides of the drain, and over time, it builds up and narrows the drain opening. When this happens, water has a hard time flowing down the drain, and that’s when clogging occurs.
3. Hard Water
Speaking of hard water, it’s also another common cause of shower drain clogs. Hard water contains high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium. When flowing through the pipes, these minerals deposit on the sides of the pipes. The build-up grows with time, minimizing the space through which water can flow.
This type of clog often happens in old houses with galvanized steel pipes. The deposits eventually accumulate and form a clog.
4. Tree Roots
Sometimes, the clog could emanate from tree roots growing into your sewer line. Tree roots will grow towards water sources, and if there are cracks or breaks in your sewer line, they will find their way in.
Once they’re in, they will continue to grow and eventually cause a blockage. That will definitely lead to a clog in your shower drain.
5. Other Causes
There are other causes of shower drain clogs, but the ones discussed are the most common. Other causes include toys, toothpaste, dirt, and many others. Whatever the reason, find the appropriate way to unclog your shower drain.
Steps on How To Remove Blockage From Shower Drain
Once you notice a blockage in your shower drain, you should take the necessary steps to remove it. And here, you need to be careful. Otherwise, you may worsen the condition or cause more damage.
With that said, here are the steps you need to follow;
Step 1. Begin By Inspecting The Drain
Even before you reach out for any tool, the first thing you need to do is to inspect the drain. This involves checking to see if you can see where the clog is and what’s causing it. If you can see the clog, try to remove it with your hands.
But if you can’t see the clog, that tells you it’s deeper down. So, you’ll need to deploy either of the means we will discuss in the second step.
Step 2: Bring In The Necessary Tools
If you don’t see the clog, that indicates that you have a severe problem that you can’t solve with bare hands. So, proceed and equip yourself with the ideal paraphernalia. You can use either or a combination of the following;
Option 1: Plumber’s Snake
The first option is the plumber’s snake, which is basically a long, flexible steel coil that you insert into the drain to reach the clog. Also called a drain auger, this tool will either hook the clog and pull it out or break it up so that water can flow again.
- Remove the drain cover
- Gently insert and push the head of the plumber’s snake into the drain.
- Tilt it as you push down
- Remove it
It should come out with the clog or at least break it up. Sometimes you may need to repeat the procedure a few times to clear the clog completely.
Option 2: Baking Soda And Vinegar
You can as well bring this popular home combo into action. The two will create a chemical reaction that will help to break up the clog.
- Pour a cup of baking soda into the clogged drain.
- Leave for about 20 minutes
- Pour a cup of vinegar
- Leave for a few hours
Option 3: Chemical Drain Cleaner
If the two methods above don’t work, you can always resort to using a chemical drain cleaner. This is a potent option that will help to clear even the toughest clogs. But while it’s effective, you need to be extra careful with it because it’s also very corrosive.
- Pour the recommended amount of cleaner into the drain.
- Leave for the recommended time.
- Note that you need to follow the instructions on the label to the letter.
Step 3: Rinse With Hot Water
Whether you’ve used a plumber’s snake, baking soda and vinegar, or chemical drain cleaner, the last step is to rinse with hot water. The essence of using the water when it’s hot is that it works better to disintegrate any grease, soap scum, food, or other elements that may be causing the clog.
Is It Bad To Use a Plunger on a Shower Drain?
It isn’t bad to use a plunger on a shower drain. Plunge is ideal for clog removals, especially those happening in the toilet. But for shower drains, the success rate isn’t that high. So, it may not be the go-to method when all other means fail.
A plunger sometimes will do the unclogging successfully if the clog isn’t a big one. However, for a giant clog, it’s unfortunate that using this tool may not be the best way to get rid of a clog. Hence, we recommend you work with some of the above suggestions.
How Can Using a Plunger Make Clog Worse?
Using a plunger makes clog worse because it’s likely to push it down instead of disintegrating it. That’s because, unlike the toilet, the shower drain doesn’t contain enough water to give the plunge the efficacy it needs in clog removal.
In addition, some drains have a trap. Well, that’s an essential addition to any drain as it helps to keep sewer gasses from entering your bathroom. But the problem is that when you’re plunging, you might end up pushing whatever is causing the clog into this part, which makes it even more difficult to get rid of.
To avoid making the clog worse, you should use another method other than plunging. But if you must use it, ensure that you do so with a lot of caution and skill.
How Do You Unblock a Shower Drain With a Plunger?
You can unblock the shower drain with a plunger like you’d unclog a toilet. The only difference when using it for your shower drain is that you need to be more careful, so you don’t push the clog further down.
Here’s how to unblock a shower drain with a plunger:
- Fill the tub with enough water to cover the suction cup of the plunger
- Place the plunger over the drain and push and pull the handle up and down to create suction
- Do this for about 30 seconds
- Lift the plunger and let the water drain
- Repeat the process until the clog is gone
Sometimes you may need to apply some petroleum jelly around the plunger’s rim to create a better seal.
Shower Water Doesn’t Go Down The Drain; What Do I Do?
If your shower water doesn’t go down the drain, there’s likely a clog. And the most basic way to clear it is by pouring hot water into it. Hot water will probably dissolve whatever is causing the clog, which should help alleviate it.
If hot water doesn’t work, you can try using a drain snake, baking soda and vinegar, or even a chemical clog cleaner. Either of these methods should help to get rid of the clog. But if neither does the trick, bringing in a professional plumber is the only remaining option.
Although they are all clogs, how you approach a toilet clog should differ from the one in your shower drain. Your toilet drain is slightly different from the shower drain, and that’s what causes all the difference. Please avoid using your usual go-to plunger for a shower drain, as it may push the clog further down, making it even more challenging to get rid of. Instead, try some of the other methods provided in this article.