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Snake A Clogged Shower Drain

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Snake shower drain
Aaron Stickley
A clogged shower drain is often very easy to clear with a drain snake. A normal tub drain is 1 1/2” in size but a shower drain is often 2” in diameter. This means that a clogged shower drain is very easy to clear since a small snake can slip through the trap quickly and easily. With the right tool and instructions a clogged shower drain can be cleared in no time.

Snaking a clogged shower drain:

  1. Remove the grate that covers the shower drain. Clean off any hair or debris that may be clinging to the grate once it it removed.

  2. Run a small snake into the drain. A power top snake with a ¼ cable is preferred since it can easily maneuver the trap under the shower. Hand crank snakes can clear this stoppage as well but they are a bit more work.

    Hold the cable close to the drain so you will be able to keep the cable from kinking. Go slow at first until you know it made it past the trap. Go about 10 feet or so at first then pull the snake back.

  3. Test the drain before putting the shower grate back on. If the drain is still stopped up try running the snake cable further down the line. Keep the drain stopped up (water in the drain) if possible so you will know when it clears.

    Do not go too far with the snake cable. It is not a good idea to get far into the 3” or bigger drain with such a small cable because it can kink up or tie into knots making it difficult to pull the snake back.

  4. Once you are happy with how the shower drains put the grate back on and you are done. Run a bit of water to help flush out any hair and debris that was loosed by the snake cable.

Things to watch out for before you snake a clogged shower drain:
  1. Check that the shower is the only drain that is affected. If only the shower drain is slow it is likely that the stoppage is local and should be easy to clear with the drain snake. But, if there are other slow drains such as the tub directly behind the shower then the issue is not a shower only clog. Check for signs of a sewer drain clog before attempting to snake the clogged shower drain.

  2. Make sure you can get the shower grate off before you begin. Sometimes the grate is fastened down by screws (be careful not to strip them) and other times the grate is just pushed in place and will pop off with a little careful prodding like the one pictured here. It is tempting to try and send the snake through the grate because many times the cable is small enough to fit, but the problem will be when you bring the snake back out. Often the snake will pull back so much hair that you will have no chance of getting it back through the hole in the grate that it originally went through.

  3. Keep an eye on nearby drains. If there is another shower or tub on the other side of the wall you will need to watch out that the snake does not come up the adjacent drain when you run the snake through the shower drain. Have a helper keep an eye on the other drain for you.

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