clogged-bathtub-drain-pic1You have a clogged bathtub drain, what are you going to do about it? All plumbing fixtures in your home are important. For some reason not being able to take a shower or a bath, carries with it special significance. Air fresheners and deodorant may help, but is that the route you want to go?

For related topics, see the articles 'Troubleshooting Drain Problems', 'How To Snake a Drain' and

A bathtub drain consists of the drain, connected to a horizontal drain pipe. This is connected to a vertical tube that attaches both to the trap and the overflow. Inside the vertical tube there is a metal plunger that closes of the drain when you want to fill the tub.

There are four spots where a clogged bathtub drain is likely to occur. (1) The strainer for the drain. (2) At the drain plunger. (3) At the trap. (4) In the drain line that leads away from the tub. Dealing with a clog increases in difficulty as you get deeper into the tub drain system. Read on and see if you feel like tackling this repair.

Clogged Bathtub Drain - Information

What Can You Save?

Prices will vary. Some companies may charge a service call, $50 to $75. Other companies may have a flat fee that could be as high as $125. Just remember it could be a five minute job, before you call.

How Hard Could It Be?

A clogged bathtub drain can vary in difficulty depending on where the clog is. Usually it is not that difficult.

These repairs will have a Difficulty Level of: A Bit of Work
These repairs require a Skill Level of: Handyman
For and explanation of the terms in this section, see 'How to Use This Site'.

Check the Simple Things!

Hair in the strainer would be the simplest thing. Take the strainer out with a screwdriver and remove the hair. This is the culprit a lot of the time.

What Can Go Wrong?

The worst thing that could happen would be to fail in freeing up the clog. You may still need to call a drain cleaning company if the clog is beyond your reach. Drain cleaning and plumbing repairs tend to be a little messy. Take precautions by moving things in the damage path and keeping rags handy.

Troubleshooting Clogged Bathtub Drains

The first thing you need to do is determine if you actually have a clogged bathtub drain. When you run the sink or flush the toilet, does some or all of the water back up into the bathtub? Are the toilet or the sink running slowly? Does water from a fixture somewhere else in the house back up into the bathtub. A yes answer to any of these questions could mean one of the main sewer lines is clogged. This is where you may need some professional help. Efforts to clean the bathtub drain will be futile if the sewer is clogged.

Hair is the biggest culprit for clogging a bathtub drain, see the section below on how to remove it. It only takes a few minutes and a screw driver.

If it is not in the strainer it may be further down in the trap. Bathtubs have traps similar to the sinks in your home. Your worst problem will be a clogged trap or line to the sewer. A snake may be required. See the article 'Clogged Bathtub Trap' for a review of this topic.

The second think that can cause a clog is a malfunctioning stopper assembly. Unlike other drains in your house, the bathtub drain has moving parts. The 'Bathtub Drain Linkage' can be responsible for a clogged bathtub drain. Use this link to review this topic.

Not your problem? See 'Plumbing Repair' or 'Plumbing Drains' for a complete listing of related plumbing topics.

Removing Hair

Hair, especially long hair can have a tendency to clog a bathtub strainer. When my two daughters were still living at home, cleaning the hair out of the drain was a regular part of my life. The good news is that it is a quick easy job.

Use a screwdriver to remove the strainer. Pull it out and see if there is a ball of hair there. Use the screwdriver to dig it out. You probably don't want to keep it, so flush it down the toilet or throw it in the trash.

Some bathtubs have a strainer that closes with your toe to stop the drain. You use this when you want to fill the bathtub. Similar to the strainer, you want to remove it and check for hair. There are different kinds but it should have a screw of some sort that holds it together.

See if the drain works now by running decent amount of water down it. Does that water go down? Yes, Great you have successfully fixed a clogged bathtub drain. Yes, it really was that easy, just accept it.

Plunging a Bathtub Drain

Plunging a bathtub drain is not a recommended course of action. It is likely to fail.

I am not going to tell you not to try a plunger on a clogged bathtub drain. What I will say is that it has a poor chance of succeeding. The vertical tube for the overflow will diffuse the pressure too much to make the plunger effective.

You can try holding a rag over the overflow to block the opening. Unfortunately the air in the tube will compress much easier than the clog will dislodge. Try it if you want, I won't say 'I told you so'.


Block off the overflow and plunge several times and then try the drain to see if it helped. It probably didn't but it is possible. By this point you should have checked the stainer for hair, See Step One.


It is my hope that your clogged bathtub drain was easy to deal with. Removing a little hair, not hard at all. Did you need to repair the stopper assembly? Still not that hard. Or were you one of those unfortunate few that had to use a snake. OK, I admit it, not fun, dirty and a bit more work. Did you get through it? Are you a better person for it?

Now what do you do? As a homeowner you probably have a list of things to do. Don't feel like it right now? Take some time to enjoy the success of this project.