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How to Unclog a Shower Drain with a Snake and Drano

Updated on October 5, 2012

Photo of how overflowed water damaged the ceiling and walls from clogged drain

Clogged and Slow draining drains are dangerous

Sometimes a drain that is emptying slowly is annoying but it can also be a dangerous situation that leads to great expense. Our three year old daughter recently went to the bathroom at my mother's house and like a good little girl she washed her hands when she was finished. But she didn't quite close the faucet all the way. The drain was partially clogged and the water began to overflow. In twenty minutes the water had seeped through the upstairs roof, down the stairs and through the walls causing tons of damage. While it's a good practice to teach kids to make sure the water is off, all of this damage could have been spared had the drain been unclogged and clear.

Ways to unclog a drain at home

I've been successful at unclogging shower drains by two ways. Both are low cost and can easily be attempted before needing to call a plumber. I've also found that these techniques tend to work well when the clog is near the opening of the drain.

The fist unclogging method to try is putting some hot water in the shower or sink and using a plunger. Similarly to unclogging a toilette, forcing water down the drain with pressure from the plunger can break the clog open and the drain will empty. The sink drain that my daughter flooded the house with was unclogged with the plunger technique. I suggest trying this method first. if it doesn't work, try the second method.

The second method is to use a product designed for unclogging drains at home like Drano. While some people may be concerned about using chemicals in their shower, I've found that following the directions closely works extremely well for really badly clogged drains. Here is an example of a shower drain I unclogged with Drano and the Drano snake. The shower drain was running very slowly. We have lots of women that use the shower and they all have pretty long hair. I suspected that the hair was causing the clog.

Steps to unclogging a shower drain with Drano

Example of a shower drain that isn't draining water fast enough to empty the shower.  Step one is to remove the drain cover.  Usually there are two screws holding it in place
Example of a shower drain that isn't draining water fast enough to empty the shower. Step one is to remove the drain cover. Usually there are two screws holding it in place
Pick up a home plumbing product like the Drano Snake Plus
Pick up a home plumbing product like the Drano Snake Plus
Drano snake plus comes with a bottle of Drano and an 18 inch plastic snake that has hooks to remove block near the top of the drain
Drano snake plus comes with a bottle of Drano and an 18 inch plastic snake that has hooks to remove block near the top of the drain
Push the snake down the drain.  When I pushed it down the shower drain, it pulled out a huge clump of hair.
Push the snake down the drain. When I pushed it down the shower drain, it pulled out a huge clump of hair.

After the drain has been snaked out

To snake a drain out, run the snake with the prongs up down the drain as far as it will go. Pull and twist the snake back out of the drain and bring the debris up and clean it off.

Once the snake has been used on the drain, throw it out. Take the contents of the Drano bottle and empty the bottle into the drain. Drano is a clear substance that is kind of in a jelly form. Let it set in the drain for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes is up, turn the shower hot water on and let it run for a few minutes.

Once I turned the hot water on, the drain began to back up. I was getting a little disappointed that the product didn't work but then I turned around and saw the shower had completely emptied and the water was quickly running down the drain. So give the hot water a few minutes to work once it's added.

*Disclosure: I was given a bottle of Drano Snakeplus as part of an advertising campaign. I took that product to test on the clogged drain.

Sometimes you have to call a plumber

At our house, the plumbing back up from time to time. It's been caused because roots can penetrate drainage lines and toilette paper and sanitary napkins can get caught in them and back up the drain. When these major clogs come, it's a good idea to call a plumber. A plumber will have snakes that can run many feet and mechanically twist with sharp points that will disrupt the clogs.

Lastly, if the drain backs up and is leaks sewage through a drain on the street, many times the city sanitation come and clean up the waste. This happens from time to time on our street. In our city, they don't charge the home owner when this happens but if I called a private plumber, I'd have to pay.

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    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I've never heard of a clogged drain leading to so much water damage. Yikes! They really can be a hazard. I guess three year olds can be somewhat of a hazard, too...

      The hair you pulled out of the grain is GNARLY! The shower scene in Psycho looks like a Teletubbies scene by comparison. This is an awesome Hub. Plain and simple.

    • SimeyC profile image

      Simon Cook 5 years ago from NJ, USA

      Paul: nice hub! You might just have a career as a plumber if Hubpages ever fails!

    • Paul Edmondson profile image
      Author

      Paul Edmondson 5 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      I hope I just stick to home projects.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Excellent hub, Paul. Simone is right; that hair was GNARLY! It's amazing what the blocked up drain will disgorge with some encouragement from Drano.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      Very good instructions Paul. I suspect that hair is always the main culprit for clogged shower drains.

    • Fuller-Life profile image

      Fuller-Life 5 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks Paul. I know how frustrating the slow draining shower or tub can be. I am one of those people that easily get annoyed. Thanks for the tip. I'll try it. Useful hub!

    • adryanfi profile image

      adryanfi 5 years ago

      Very nice Hub!. :D i always have a problem with this.. :D thanks paul..

    • ligiaogl profile image

      ligiaogl 5 years ago from Brazil

      Very good Hub! Thanks for the tips.

      All of the best for you.

      =]

    • Shil1978 profile image

      Shil1978 5 years ago

      Nice hub, Paul - thanks for the tips. Should come in handy for those annoying clogged situations.

    • profile image

      jim 5 years ago

      i let a cap from a small plastic bottle get into my tub drain. using a snake i can hit it but cant push it on thru. suggestions-- other than calling a professional? thanks

    • Paul Edmondson profile image
      Author

      Paul Edmondson 5 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      Instead of trying to push it through with a snake, I'd try to extract it from the drain. Depending on how far it's down in the drain I'd try tweezers or putting something sticky on the end of the snake to see if you can pull it out.

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