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asterger

join:2004-11-26
Raleigh, NC

Shower Drain Clogged - Call a Plumber or use Drain Cleaner?

I was able to pull out hair clumps the length of a screwdriver, but can see more. Drain is deep, on a raised foundation. New construction less than 3-years old. Drain pipe is PVC.

I've had plumbers tell me never use a drain cleaner. Sound advice or are they looking for work?

Thanks for any feedback.

-- asterger



jack b
Gone Fishing
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-08
Cape Cod
kudos:1

Drain cleaner works on soap scum and grease, not hair.

You need a snake to pull it out. You can get a cheap hand powered rotary snake at most hardware stores.


--
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beck
Premium,MVM
join:2002-01-29
On The Road
kudos:1
reply to asterger

Get a zip strip at Walmart. They are flat white long plastic pieces with teeth. Fit places augers don't.


bkjohnson
Premium
join:2002-05-22
Birmingham, AL

+1 Also a hair strainer.



ArgMeMatey

join:2001-08-09
Milwaukee, WI
kudos:2
Reviews:
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reply to beck

said by beck:

Get a zip strip at Walmart. They are flat white long plastic pieces with teeth. Fit places augers don't.

It works like a charm on the rat-sized mass of hair and decaying goo that I pull out of the shower drain once every two years or so. If only I'd married Persis Khambatta or Grace Jones, or Sinead O'Connor ...

»www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/sto···00665735
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CylonRed
Premium,MVM
join:2000-07-06
Bloom County
reply to asterger

No on drain cleaner - I use needle nose pliers to get hair out.


Zach1
Premium
join:2006-11-26
NW Minnesota
reply to asterger

Negative on the drain cleaner! I've had success using my old Craftsman shop vac. The only downside I've found is the aroma. Otherwise, it takes more time to clean up the vac and reinstall the filter than it takes to suck out the nastyness. Not sure how the wife can make such a mess of a shower drain trap.
--
Zach



cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

1 recommendation

reply to asterger

said by asterger:

I've had plumbers tell me never use a drain cleaner. Sound advice or are they looking for work?

Drain cleaners usually don't work. Either the clog is not solid enough and the cleaner just passes by. Or it's solid enough that it just doesn't do enough to break it up.

Most drain cleaners are caustic, either a base or an acid plus some other nasties. If the pipe has to be removed, not only does the person doing the work have to deal with whatever was plugging the drain and any water lingering around, but now a significant amount of caustic liquid that has to be dealt with.

Ditto what everyone else says. Zip strip for a fast, cheap attempt at fixing the issue. Pipe snake if that doesn't work.


rockotman
...Blown On The Steel Breeze
Emerging Research
join:2000-08-06
DSotM
kudos:2

1 recommendation

reply to asterger

Another vote on the zip strip.

What works even better, if you have one readily available, is one of these.




While the tool is something most auto mechanics have, I find it works quite nicely for removing those "dead-cat" mats of hair that build up in sink and shower drains as well.

You can get a firm grip on the clog, even better than with a zip strip.

Note that for a shower, sometimes it is easier to pull out the drain lever mechanism, and go down into the pipe via that opening.
--
Shine on you crazy diamond...

MaynardKrebs
Heave Steve, for the good of the country
Premium
join:2009-06-17
kudos:4

3 recommendations

reply to asterger

This looks like a job for the Fantastic Voyage team.


Hawk
Riding Thermals
Premium
join:2003-08-25
The Desert
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

1 edit
reply to asterger

said by asterger:

I've had plumbers tell me never use a drain cleaner. Sound advice or are they looking for work?

We always inquire if the customer has used any "drain cleaners" before attempting to resolve the problem for the safety of our techs and equipment. I've written a few injury reports due to customers that are not forthcoming with their attempts. As cdru See Profile mentioned, some of the stuff on the market is very caustic.

If the stoppage is beyond the wall or floor and the "drain cleaner" doesn't work and just sits there melting the ABS, PVC, etc, the cost to repair the line could very easily exceed the cost of a simple service call to clear it. Food for thought.

Edit: TIP - I used to pull the PO plug and stick a 1" copper fitting brush in the lavi drain to clean them out. If it's just hair, soap scum and all that crap up close to the top, it would do a pretty nice job. Probably one of the nastiest plumbing jobs one will run across IMO.


aannoonn

@optonline.net
reply to asterger

First try a Zip-It - »zipitclean.com

If that doesn't work, try drain cleaner, but after waiting the specified amount of time, flush the drain and use a plunger. Keep pouring hot water down the drain (I repeatedly fill a large spaghetti pot with hot water) and plunge vigorously. Do it multiple times! If this is a tub shower, be sure to tape over the overflow hole.



Coma
Thanks Steve
Premium
join:2001-12-30
NirvanaLand

1 recommendation

reply to asterger


A cup of chlorine bleach down the drain once a week should take care of it.

--
February is National Snack Food Month


lutful
... of ideas
Premium
join:2005-06-16
Ottawa, ON
kudos:1
reply to asterger

My wife's hair totally clogged up our ensuite shower within a few months of moving into the home.Because I did not want to touch the guck, I actually tried 2 different brands of drain cleaners (Drano and maybe Liquid Plumber) but they did not work.

Then I fashioned a vintage metal clothes hanger into a clumsy tool .. which still works to this day.

P.S. I also put a strainer designed for kitchen sink on the shower drain to catch most of the hair. But some hair still slithers through the round holes.


PrntRhd
Premium
join:2004-11-03
Fairfield, CA
Reviews:
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1 edit
reply to asterger

I take the overflow plate off and use a thin hand-driven rotating snake tool, it gets further down the line, physically breaks up the clog area and residue and does not discolor or ruin the plating on the fixtures. Run hot water down the drain when the clog is broken up and the snake also comes out pretty clean. Yes, you wear gloves, thread it down the pipe, rotate to attach the auger to the hair clog.
My tool is almost exactly what Jack B is describing. Every reasonably handy homeowner should have one.

No chemical drain cleaner should ever be used on a hair clog, ineffective, dangerous to fixtures and dangerous to you.


Beezel

join:2008-12-15
Las Vegas, NV
reply to lutful

said by lutful:

My wife's hair totally clogged up our ensuite shower within a few months of moving into the home.Because I did not want to touch the guck, I actually tried 2 different brands of drain cleaners (Drano and maybe Liquid Plumber) but they did not work.

Then I fashioned a vintage metal clothes hanger into a clumsy tool .. which still works to this day.

P.S. I also put a strainer designed for kitchen sink on the shower drain to catch most of the hair. But some hair still slithers through the round holes.

I use the sink strainer also, still have my trusty coat hanger that I have used for many years. But I have the hand powered snake also for going into the walls.

patcat88

join:2002-04-05
Jamaica, NY
kudos:1
reply to asterger

Never use drain cleaner. It will burn pipes before it will burn clogs. I use a hand snake + corn oil, once the clog is free, I fill the tub with laundry detergent+ water, make a slurry, let it soak into the drain with the snake still in the drain, then rotate and pull the snake out with the laundry detergent washing the corn oil and scum on the walls of the pipe off, and getting the corn oil off the snake. Corn oil lets the snake get past 360 degrees of 2.5 in drain pipe fittings under the tub quickly.



FiReSTaRT
Premium
join:2010-02-26
Canada
Reviews:
·Velcom

said by patcat88:

Never use drain cleaner. It will burn pipes before it will burn clogs. I use a hand snake + corn oil, once the clog is free, I fill the tub with laundry detergent+ water, make a slurry, let it soak into the drain with the snake still in the drain, then rotate and pull the snake out with the laundry detergent washing the corn oil and scum on the walls of the pipe off, and getting the corn oil off the snake. Corn oil lets the snake get past 360 degrees of 2.5 in drain pipe fittings under the tub quickly.

After that it's advisable to run hot water and detergent a couple of times. Oil traps all sorts of crud and contributes to the clogs.
--
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
—George Bernard Shaw


chip89
Premium
join:2012-07-05
Independence, OH
reply to asterger

You should get one of these zip it and drano kits.

»www.drano.com/en-US/Products/Pag···Kit.aspx


asterger

join:2004-11-26
Raleigh, NC
reply to asterger

I did purchase the Zip-It stick, at less than $3. At that price, it was worth a try. Lowes and Home Depot both carry it. Wal-Mart had it online only for $17.95 and/or a clone (sans barbs) for $10.99.

Anyone finding this thread should understand Zip-It stick is a single use tool. Didn't catch that at the store. Pulling hair clumps from the drain required three insertions. Since I only had one Zip-It stick, I was forced to reuse it. I removed the drain cover, inserted the stick in the drain, twisting the stick's handle. Then removed the gunked up hair after each use as best as possible. I tried paper towels. It wasn't easy as the Zip-It stick has plastic barbs that grab hair clumps. Be extremely careful handling the now gunked up stick as the barbs could break your skin. You don't want/need sepsis. Definitely use gloves and maybe long nose pliers to pull the tangled hair off or perhaps a knife to cut it off.

In my case the shower drain is flowing once again.

Thanks all,

-- asterger



ArgMeMatey

join:2001-08-09
Milwaukee, WI
kudos:2
Reviews:
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said by asterger:

I did purchase the Zip-It stick, at less than $3. At that price, it was worth a try. Lowes and Home Depot both carry it. Wal-Mart had it online only for $17.95 and/or a clone (sans barbs) for $10.99.

Anyone finding this thread should understand Zip-It stick is a single use tool.

1) I wonder how many of those Wal Mart sells online! Does that include same-day delivery?

2) I didn't realize they are marketed as single-use but that could be the case depending on what you're pulling out. I've had mine for a few years and have used it many times, mostly to clear my condensate lines, but there's nothing in there but gelatinous goo. You could push stubborn stuff UP to the handle and cut it off, I suppose.
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Koil
Premium
join:2002-09-10
Irmo, SC
kudos:2
reply to asterger

I've had the same one, and used it many times, for about 2 years. It's not as sharp as it once was, but it still gets the job done...it's a great little tool.

Good point about the gloves...I couldn't do it otherwise. Nothing makes me gag more than pulling that stuff out of the pipes. So friggin gross, but the zip-it takes care of it every time....so far.



H2OuUp2
Happy to be here
Premium
join:2002-03-15
Oklahoma City, OK
reply to asterger

I get a coat hanger, tape cotton balls to the end of it stick the coat hanger down the drain and begin twisting. The cotton will stick to the hair, and when you rotate it will wind it up around the hanger. Then pull it out, drain clean.

You might have to replace the cotton ball and do it again if it's really bad.

Cheap, quick and effective, just make sure you tape the cotton ball on good.
--
He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliot



Fallen_Anjel

join:2011-04-07
Rocky Point, NY
reply to ArgMeMatey

I've been selling these things for YEARS and never knew they were "one use"! LOL



IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
Reviews:
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1 edit
reply to asterger

My mother has long hair, I wear a buzz cut so my mother is the prime offender in terms of clogging the tub drain. I am always cleaning the tub drain out with the snake every other month.

The drain had an in-pipe stopper so I took that out and disabled the tub feature by removing the stopper assembly so the tub is now a shower only.


scott_urman

join:2002-07-18
San Mateo, CA
reply to asterger

I just used this stuff »www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002BW···F8&psc=1

(drain cleaner with lye) and it worked amazingly well. So well that I need to return the zipit. Used boiling water to flush it out afterwards.



joako
Premium
join:2000-09-07
/dev/null
kudos:6
reply to asterger

I used the zip thing once and it worked but I think the 2nd time it didn't work because the clog was too far up.

I bought from Wal Mart a "Hair clog drain cleaner" followed the instructions, waited 12 hours and it actually worked perfectly.
--
PRescott7-2097

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JustBurnt

@rr.com
reply to asterger

Re: Shower Drain Clogged - Call a Plumber or use Drain Cleaner?

There is only one way to clear a clog, physically remove it, and "drain cleaners" are not going to cut it.

If a plumber came to clear a clog and he pulled out Drain-o type stuff he would be shown the door.