It can be tricky to assess a problem with your bathtub, and this is especially true if you have a shower/tub combo. These systems can be harder to clean, and if you’re having issues, it can be related to cleanliness in some cases. If you have spent money on a luxurious jetted tub, the bathtub is more complex, and this can create other problems. In this article, we will take a closer look at three common bathtub problems and explain them in more detail.
A Brief Home Plumbing Primer
When you think about your home plumbing, it’s helpful to think of it as a root like structure. The roots are connected, and when you pour something into your drain, it travels along those channels. Each part of your plumbing system connects to a wider drainage system outside your home, then out into your neighborhood and even further afield.
The roots in your home collect the wastewater and move it out of your home towards the sewer system or a city septic tank. So, a clog can form in any of your drains from one or a number of different sources in your home. Perhaps some hair entered the drain in the bathroom, and some grease got into the kitchen sink. These materials can combine in another part of your plumbing root structure to form a formidable clog.
So, It is possible to pour something in your kitchen sink and clog up your bathroom drain. But, in other cases, the clog may be more localized. If you see water backing up in your tub, the problem could lie somewhere in your bathroom pipes. Because that water has already moved through the drain, it can smell foul and look dirty when it comes back up through the drain. If the drain is clogged and more water is added, it cannot drain away, and the only place it can go is back up the pipe and into the tub.
- The Tub Will Not Drain
If the tub cannot drain at all or it is draining very slowly, it’s likely that you have a clog in the drain connected to your tub. This can be caused by materials such as soap scum, hair, and others that have formed a clog over time and blocked the drain. This situation can be exacerbated if the tub isn’t cleaned regularly because the dirt and grime is added to the mix. Prevention is better than the cure, adding a hair trap to catch the hair before it enters the drain and regular cleaning can help to prevent bathroom drain clogs.
- Is the Stopper Dirty?
A tub can be tricky to clean, and some people forget to check their tub stopper. This is a hard working plumbing fixture, and it can get very dirty in a short period of time. It’s a good idea to clean the stopper every 2-3 days because it can become stuck like a toilet flapper. If the stopper does stick, it will affect the water flow, and this can lead to drainage issues. Some common causes of a stuck stopper include hair clumps, soap scum, and hard water mineral deposits or scale. Manually remove the material, spray the area with vinegar, leave it for 30 minutes and then scrub it clean.
- A Persistent Clog
One of the most annoying clogging issues with a standard tub or a jetted tub is a persistent clog. Perhaps you have managed to remove it manually, or you thought it was dissolved with a chemical drain cleaning product, and yet it returns.
Firstly, it’s not a good idea to use hard caustic chemicals in your drains because you can damage the pipes. Secondly, it is always a good idea to attempt a manual clog removal using a plumbing augur or snake as it is more commonly known. In some cases, there may be a large object such as a used razor or a bottle cap that has fallen in the drain, and you may be able to remove it with tweezers. But, in other cases, the persistent clog may be further in the drain, and you cannot reach it without professional help. When a drain clog returns again and again, it’s often a sign that there is an underlying plumbing problem that needs to be fixed.
How to Deal with Drain Clogs
As we mentioned previously, it’s a good idea to avoid using chemical drain cleaners because they can make the problem worse. Every professional plumber removes a clog manually, and there are a few methods that they will use depending on the situation. But, before you call a professional local plumber, there are a few things that you can try first that may get the water draining again.
Start by looking in the drain to see if there are any obvious clumps of hair trapped there or a large object jammed in the drain. Sometimes clumps of hair can be teased out with your fingers or a long thin object such as a pair of tweezers. Take care, the last thing that you want to do is drop something else into the drain.
If you suspect that the clog is located further into the tub drain, you can use a cup plunger. Place the cup over the drain and move it up and down gently. This will change the pressure inside the drain pipe, and in many cases, it will shake the clog loose. If you see the water start to drain again, you can turn on the tap, and this will flush the clog out of your plumbing system.
If a cup plunger didn’t work, get a plumbing augur, and carefully insert it into the drain until it bumps up against an obstruction. Then gently turn the handle, and the augur bit will bite into the clog and break it apart. If the drain starts to work again, run the tap, and this should flush the clog pieces out of the home plumbing system.
If none of these methods are successful or you’re not confident, it’s time to call on a local plumber for expert help. They have the experience and specialized tools to remove even the most persistent clogs for you to get your tub draining again.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.