In many cases, you can unclog a bathtub drain with a plunger, some liquid drain cleaner, or by cleaning off the tub stopper. When you have a clog that is too much for any of those strategies, you may need to use a snake to clear your drain. A snake with a 1/4 cable is usually enough to clear a bathtub drain, but you need to know how to use it.
Removing the Overflow Plate
One common mistake that people make when they snake their bathtub drain is running the cable through the drain on the bottom of the tub. You might reach some of the clog by going through the bottom drain, but you will need to remove the overflow plate on your bathtub if you really want results. This will usually look like a round metal plate on the wall of the tub above the bottom drain. If you remove the plate with a screwdriver, you will be able to run your snake through the overflow and down the drain.
Snaking The Drain
When you snake your bathtub drain, hold the base of the snake firmly with one hand and feed the cable down the drain. You should have no more than one foot of cable coming out of the overflow if you want to keep the cable taut and un-kinked. If you feel the cable starting to bind, slow down before it starts to kink up. If you hit a really tough clog that causes the cable to kink, remove the cable slowly and proceed until you get through the clog. You should eventually break up the clog enough to allow water to flow through your drain again.
Know When to Call a Plumber
Of course there will always be clogs that will be beyond your ability to remove. If you try everything up to and including snaking your drain, don’t hesitate to call a local plumber. There could be something seriously wrong with your drain or your sewer line that needs to be fixed. You should also call a plumber if you don’t feel comfortable snaking a drain by yourself. It may be a typical DIY project, but there is still a lot that can go wrong when it comes to plumbing. If you aren’t sure that you know what you are doing, stop immediately and call a professional to fix the problem. The last thing you want is to make the problem worse.