How to Unclog a Bathtub Drain With Standing Water

Blocked drains can be a serious problem. If they are left unresolved then the water can start to back up and overflow into your home. This has the potential to bring raw sewage into your home which could mean you needing to move out, exposure to a variety of diseases, or your home never feeling like your own again.

Fortunately, you have two solutions when faced with a clogged bathtub drain. You can call the Plumbing Detectives and get them to resolve the issue for you, or you can try to fix the issue yourself.

Step 1 – Clear The Drain

The first step is to remove any visible debris from the drain. If you can’t see into the bath then you’ll have to feel your way around the drain and pick out the debris.

The most common items are soap scum, hair, and other bathroom products. You may prefer to wear gloves when doing this.

Step 2 – Remove The Water

It is possible that step 1 will clear the blockage and allow the bathtub to drain. If it starts to drain slowly then leave it until it is fully drained. However, if the water doesn’t appear to be moving then you’ll need to empty it by hand. You can use a bucket or siphon and direct the water down a nearby sink or toilet instead. Just make sure there is nothing wrong with that drain first.

Step 3 – Check The Overflow

You may have an overflow drain on your bathtub. If so, make sure it is clear of debris and plug it with a rag. This will prevent the overflow from being part of the problem.

Step 4 – Plunging Time

You now need to use a bath plunger on your drain. Simply cover the whole of the drain and slowly push the plunger in and out. It doesn’t need to be vigorous, the movement of air is what will shift the blockage.

This is not an instant fix, it can take several minutes of plunging for the effects to be seen.

If this works you can run hot water down the drain for several minutes to ensure any remaining products are washed away.

Step 5 – The Extra Precaution

Even if the above steps have worked it’s a good idea to give the drain and pipework a little support.

The best bet is to put a cup of baking soda down the drain. Use something pointed to help ensure the baking soda gets right into the drain and into the U-bend.

The slowly pour one cup of vinegar down the drain, you want to wash the remaining baking soda into the drain with the vinegar. Cover the drain with a rag, you’ll hear the baking soda reacting with the vinegar, it will fizz.

It’s best to leave it for approximately 30 minutes and then check it has finished fizzing. For difficult clogs, you can then repeat this process before running hot water down the drain for several minutes.


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Written by Virily Editor

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  1. It is always a smarter option to a call a professional plumber, saves a lot incase things go wrong. As a plumber myself, I have seen so many people make a repair job go from $100 to $1000 by doing it themselves. I’ve just started my own company called Emergency Plumber Near Me, if anybody has any questions please get in touch. (

  2. Hardware stores around here carry a little device that costs about $2.00 (USD) and helps a lot. It’s a little plastic strip about 18 inches long with teeth on the edges. You insert it into the drain and then pull it out. The hair in the drain catches on the teeth and gets pulled out of the drain. Works on sinks also.

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