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What to Do When You Have a Clogged Shower Drain

Clogged shower drains are uncomfortable, to say the least. While shampooing your hair, you may smell a terrible odor coming out of the drain, or notice you’re standing in a few inches of water each time the water runs. Not only that, but the clog will cause water to drain slowly. Rather than having the day washed away and circulating down your plumbing as it’s meant to do, the collection of dirt, soap, and hair from your shower will sit in its base—possibly causing a grimy stain on the shower floor.

Cleaning out your shower every day is an annoyance, and shouldn’t be necessary. Instead, read on to discover useful tips provided by our expert Long Island plumber about clogged shower drains and how to treat them, deal with a clog, and prevent drain from happening again.

3 Signs of a Clogged Shower Drain

Years of grim, soap scum, hair, and even small objects can get stuck in your pipes and block-up your shower. Often, clogged shower drains take a while to form, so you might not notice the problem right away. With that in mind, here are three signs to watch for that indicate your shower is clogged.

1. Bad Smells

Although your drains carry waste water away from your home, your pipes shouldn’t smell. Typically, smelly shower drains are caused by a build-up of soap scum and hair that’s starting to rot in the drain. However, sometimes you might smell sulfuric gas or sewage in your shower. This could be a sign of an issue with your main sewer line and you should call a plumber right away.

2. Slow Drainage

Your shower should drain water at relatively the same rate that it flows out of the faucet. If the water is pooling around your ankles or takes a long time to drain once you’ve shut the water off, you have a clogged shower drain. The clog, made out of hair, soap scum, and dirt, is like a dam and prevents the water from flowing smoothly through your drain.

3. Puddles of Water

Do you notice water pooling around your shower or tub? Sometimes clogged drains are quite severe. If the water can’t move through the drain, it still needs to find somewhere to go. This puts pressure on the pipe and can cause it to start leaking or even burst. Subsequently, water might start to pool around your shower’s base because the water has leaked outside the plumbing system.

Why is My Shower Drain Clogged?

Now you know the signs of a clogged shower drain, but how did it become blocked in the first place? All the drains in your home can become clogged over time. For your shower, the typical culprits are:

  • Soap: Traditional soaps contain fats (sometimes animal fats like tallow), talc, and wax. These sticky ingredients are prone to accumulating in your drains, especially when combined with hair and the hard minerals found in water.

  • Hair: You might notice a few strands of hair around your shower drain and think nothing of it. But every time you shower, your hair sheds a little. Although this is completely normal, the stray strands of hair build-up in your drains. Long hair is especially problematic, as it wraps around other grime, like dirt and soap, to form clogs.

  • Minerals: Hard water—which is typically used for your shower—contains minerals. Although you can’t see these minerals, as the water in your drain evaporates it leaves behind these insoluble minerals. The minerals build-up in your drain and can block your pipes.

  • Dirt: On its own, dirt won’t necessarily clog your drains. But combined with hair and soap, it will start amassing within your pipes and contribute to a clog.

  • Tree roots: Although it sounds unlikely, roots grow in even the smallest cracks in underground pipes and can obstruct water flow to your shower.

How Do I Unclog My Shower Drain?

So, you’ve noticed a clog in your shower drain. Perhaps the drain is smelly or there’s a pool of standing water left in the shower once you hop out. Let’s discover how you can get rid of the clog:

Your Hands

It might sound a bit icky—do be sure you wear gloves—but you can sometimes remove the debris clogging your shower drain with your hands. First, let as much water drain out or remove the water if possible. Then, unscrew the drain and reach in. Try to pull out as much of the clog as you can. If you can’t reach it, you'll have to try another method.

Boiling Water

It might sound simple, but boiling water can be a fantastic way to get rid of clogs caused by soap scum. The boiling water heats up the clog, liquefying it and flushing it down the drain. Start by waiting for any standing water to drain. If the water doesn’t move down the drain in an hour, then the clog is likely too big to be removed with boiling water alone. However, if the standing water clears, heat up a liter of water and carefully pour it down the drain. Follow immediately with another liter. If the boiling water won’t penetrate the clog, you’ll see it start to pool around your shower drain.

*Please only put boiling water down your drains if your pipes are not made out of PVC.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

If boiling water won’t cut it, we suggest trying baking soda and vinegar. As you may remember from your child’s science fair project, when baking soda and vinegar are combined it causes a chemical reaction that releases a significant amount of gas. The force of the reaction can break apart debris and get rid of a clogged shower drain.

Pour one cup of baking soda followed by one cup of vinegar down your drain. If needed, use a spoon to push the baking soda down as far as it can go. Once you’ve added the vinegar, quickly close the drain or block it so the reaction is forced through the pipe. Wait about 30 to 60 minutes and follow by pouring one to two liters of boiling water down the drain for good measure.

A Plunger

If baking soda and vinegar proved useless against your tricky clog, next you’ll want to try using a plunger. However, if you’ve recently poured harsh chemicals into your drain, wait a day or two before using a plunger. Although effective, plungers can cause water to splash and if that water has harsh chemicals in it, you could get injured.

To correctly use your plunger, ensure all standing water has either been drained or removed from the shower’s vase. Then, unscrew the shower drain and block the overflow opening with a wet towel. This helps focus the force of the plunger on your clogged drain.

Fill the shower with a small amount of water, just enough to cover the bottom of the plunger. The water helps increase the plunger’s suction. Start plunging in an upward and downward motion. You’ll likely have to plunge between 6 and 12 times to remove the clog. After a max of 12 plunges, remove the plunger to see if the water is draining correctly. If not, repeat the process two to three more times.

Wire Hanger Method

When even a plunger fails you, take your unclogging method to the next level: the wire hanger. Similar to a plumber’s snake, a wire hanger will help you manually remove the clog if it’s out of reach. Take your metal hanger and straighten it, molding one side into a hook. Stick the hanger down the drain and fish around until you feel the clog. Pull up as much debris as possible. Lastly, flush one to two liters of boiling water down the drain to get rid of any residue the makeshift drain snake missed.

A Professional Plumber

If you’ve tried the above drain unclogging methods—or you would rather make sure your drains are cleared right the first time—your best option is to call a professional plumber. The team at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Central Long Island has decades of experience working in the plumbing industry. In fact, some of our team members are second generation plumbers. Suffice it to say, we know what we’re doing. We’ve handled clogs—big and small—for clients living throughout Long Island since 1992. When you want your drains professionally cleaned, hire the best by calling Mr. Rooter Plumbing.

How to Prevent Clogged Shower Drains

The best way to prevent clogged shower drains is with regular maintenance. Professional cleaning services from the team at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Central Long Island can rapidly unclog drains and ensure your plumbing works smoothly year after year.

Many plumbing companies use toxic, corrosive drain cleaning chemicals to erase build-up in your plumbing system. However, at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Central Long Island, we believe in cleaning your drains holistically and effectively. We use a combination of:

  • Our cutting-edge HydroScrub® Jetting technology, which uses a high-pressurized hose to shoot water through your pipes

  • Enzymatic Drain Care™, which are environmentally friendly enzymes that eat the debris clogging up your shower

Our cutting-edge drain cleaning system will return your drains to peak performance without putting harmful chemicals into your Long Island home’s plumbing. It also saves you the trouble of having to try to remove the clog yourself—which can be a sticky, smelly process.

Not only is our technology the best in the industry, but so is our workmanship and customer service. When you hire our team, our Central Long Island plumbers will arrive on-time to your scheduled appointment. Using a company vehicle and wearing the Mr. Rooter uniform, we’ll bring all the tools required to handle your clogged shower drains. Additionally, we guarantee all our plumbing workmanship and parts, clean-up as soon as we are finished the job, and offer transparent pricing.

Choosing to invest in annual drain cleaning maintenance efficiently gets rid of clogs—not just in your shower, but throughout your entire home—and prevents your pipes from wearing prematurely. Not only will your shower drain no longer be smelly, but the risk of leaks, or even burst pipes, is reduced significantly. Your plumbing works hard for you every day, giving you clean water to drink and cook with, and removing waste safely from your home. Keep it functioning at its best with preventative drain cleaning.

Dealing with an Emergency?

Did you know that our team is available 24/7 to help in an emergency? We know plumbing emergencies often happen at the absolute worst time. If the shower in your guest bathroom is clogged right before hosting a family friend or there’s water pooling on your bathroom floor, don’t hesitate to call us right away. We’ll send one of our expert plumbers over as soon as possible to defuse the situation and get your plumbing back to normal. Also, did we mention we never charge for overtime? Your safety and peace of mind is always our top priority, so we honor our regular pricing even after hours or on holidays.

Hire the Pros at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Central Long Island Today!

Have you noticed a bad smell every time you hop in the shower? Or perhaps your shower starts filling up with water each time you turn it on? Clogged shower drains can be frustrating to deal with in your Long Island home—while also damaging your plumbing system. Although soap scum, hair, dirt, and other contaminants are bound to go down your pipes, prevent clogs by hiring the professionals at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Central Long Island to spotlessly clean your plumbing system.


We invite you to give our friendly customer service representatives a call today at 631-542-2194 or request an appointment online to get started.