If water is backing up in your bathtub a clog is the likely culprit. The process of unclogging the drain can vary based on the specific bathtub and source of the clog. Basically, it all boils down to taking off the drain stopper and clearing the pipe. You don’t have to rely on caustic, pourable unclogging solutions. Most plumbers don’t recommend them. The manual approach has more steps, but is also more effective.
Step 1: Remove the Drain Stopper
Drain stoppers are what prevent objects like rings and children’s toys from falling down into the pipes, so you really should have one for every tub. But you need to remove it in order to get at the clog. There are many different kinds of stoppers.
Drop stoppers have a small knob and a sort of lid on a hinge covering the drain. They can be removed by unscrewing the hinge and lifting the stopper out.
Levered bathtub stoppers are rarer. They are known for having a lever attached to an overflow plate that may need to be removed before you can remove the stopper.
Push stoppers are more common and more frustrating. They are the ones that have a knob of metal attached by a central screw above a lift stopper. The best tool to remove them is patience. You’ll have to try and unscrew either the top knob or the whole assembly from the drain.
Step 2: Unclog the Drain
Assuming that the cause of the slow draining of bath water wasn’t being caused by debris attached to the stopper itself, you now have to tackle the drain. Try using a flashlight to determine what material is stuck in the pipe.
If you think it’s just hair that’s causing the clog, a make-shift auger fashioned out of a clothes hanger will do the trick. If there is any hair in the drain, you should do this step first to extract the hair, since the other methods risk pushing the hair deeper into the pipes where it can’t be reached.
Soap or other residue may be also causing the slow draining. Pouring a pot of boiling water or using the classic baking soda and vinegar home remedy should be enough to clear this out.
If the source of the clog is something else that cannot be solved with the first two methods, try to dislodge it with an auger or a plunger and push it through the tub’s pipe.
After you are satisfied with the drain, replace the stopper as you found it and test how quickly the water drains out.
Step 3: Regular Maintenance
Ideally, the water will be draining much faster. If you want to keep your bathtub draining fast try to perform regular maintenance on the drain once every few months, or more, depending on how frequently the bath is used. Be sure to keep objects that could obstruct the pipe away from the drain.