Category : Bathtub Drain

How to Unclog a Bathtub Drain with Standing Water

a man hand try to unclog a bathtub and written on How to unclog bathtub drain standing water expert tips

This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to unclog a bathtub drain with standing water, including an overview of the potential causes of clogs, safety precautions to take when unclogging a drain, essential tools for the job, and step-by-step instructions for the unclogging process.

It also addresses the importance of understanding the type of bathtub drain you have, as different designs may require slightly different approaches to unclogging.

The article also includes eco-friendly and natural methods for unclogging, as well as preventive maintenance tips to avoid future clogs.

Additionally, the article discusses the potential risks of using chemical drain cleaners and when to seek professional help for more complex issues.

Overall, this article provides a thorough and informative resource for anyone seeking to unclog a bathtub drain with standing water.

Why does standing water occur in a bathtub drain?

  • Hair. The first and foremost reason for bathtub drain blockages is hair getting stuck in the drain stopper. Although the modern plumbing system is quite advanced, you could claim that it does not collect hair, so using a hair catcher is the best option because it is still not ideal.
  • Soap Scum. After hair, the biggest contributor to bathtub drain clogs is soap and shampoo scum, which clumps together with the hair to form a clog and prevent water from flowing into the drain.
  • Water Minerals. If you have hard water coming into your home and you use it without a softener, it can cause various minerals to build up in your bathtub pipes. Hard water contains minerals like ammonia, iron, calcium, and magnesium that accumulate in your home’s plumbing system as well as in your bathtub drain. If you feel like this you should test the water as soon as possible and use a water softener.

Safety Precautions When Unclogging a Bathtub Drain with Standing Water

To unclog a bathtub drain with water in it, you need to take some basic safety measures to protect yourself and make sure your work area is safe. Here are the key things you need to keep in mind:

1. Wear Appropriate Safety Gear:

  • Rubber Gloves: To protect your hands and provide a better grip while handling tools, be sure to wear thick rubber gloves before starting any unclogging procedure.

2. Protect Your Eyes:

  • Safety Goggles: When unclogging a bathtub drain with standing water, safety goggles are essential to protect your eyes from potential splashes and chemical fumes.

3. Adequate Ventilation:

  • Open Windows or Use a Fan: Ensure proper ventilation when using chemical drain cleaners by opening windows or using a fan to dissipate fumes and prevent inhalation of harmful substances.

4. Clear the Area:

  • Remove Obstacles: To optimize safety while unclogging a bathtub drain, ensure that the bathroom floor is free from obstacles and clutter that could cause you to trip or slip, especially if you’re moving quickly to address the clog.

5. Chemical Drain Cleaners:

  • Follow Instructions: If you choose to use chemical drain cleaners, be sure to carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Never mix different chemicals, as this can lead to dangerous reactions.

6. Plunger Safety:

  • Secure Seal: To maximize the effectiveness of the plunging action, ensure that you create a tight seal over the drain opening when using a plunger.
  • Avoid Overexertion: To avoid injuries or damage to the plumbing, do not apply excessive force while plunging.

7. Drain Snake Safety:

  • Handle with Care: When using a drain snake, be gentle when inserting and manipulating it in the drain. Avoid forcing it, as it can damage pipes.
  • Avoid Chemicals: Do not use a drain snake immediately after using chemical drain cleaners, as the residue may cause harm on contact.

8. Emergency Plan:

  • Have a Backup Plan: If your attempts to unclog the drain are unsuccessful, it’s important to have a backup plan. You may need to call a professional plumber to avoid any further complications.

9. Keep Children and Pets Away:

  • Secure the Area: Make sure that children and pets are not present in the bathroom while you work. Chemicals, tools, and water can be hazardous and pose a risk to their safety.

These safety precautions, you can protect yourself and maintain a safe working environment while addressing a clogged bathtub drain with standing water. Remember that safety should always be a top priority during any home maintenance task.

Essential Tools for unclogging a bathtub drain

To unclog a bathtub drain with standing water, you will need the following tools and materials:

  • Plunger
  • Drain Snake (Auger)
  • Bucket
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Safety Goggles
  • Drain Cleaner (Optional)
  • Towels or Rags
  • Screwdriver (Optional)
  • Flashlight (Optional)

1. Plunger:

  • Purpose: A plunger is a tool that can help unclog a drain by creating suction and pushing the blockage through the pipe.
  • Type: To clear a clogged drain, you can use either a standard cup plunger or a flange plunger. Use a cup plunger for flat surfaces and a flange plunger for curved surfaces like drains.

2. Drain Snake (Auger):

  • Purpose: A drain snake, which is also called a plumber’s auger, is used to go deep into the drainpipe and either remove or break up the clog physically.
  • Type: There are handheld drain snakes and power augers available for clearing drains. However, for most home applications, a handheld drain snake is sufficient.

3. Bucket:

  • Purpose: A bucket is used to catch any extra water that might spill out while unclogging, to avoid making a mess in the bathroom.
  • Size: A medium-sized bucket should suffice.

4. Rubber Gloves:

  • Purpose: Rubber gloves protect your hands from dirty water, chemicals, and things that could make you sick in the drain.
  • Type: Thick, waterproof rubber gloves are ideal for this task.

5. Safety Goggles:

  • Purpose: Safety goggles protect your eyes from potential splashes of water or chemical drain cleaners.
  • Type: Clear, ANSI-rated safety goggles that fully cover your eyes are recommended.

6. Drain Cleaner (Optional):

  • Purpose: Using chemical drain cleaners can be effective in clearing certain types of clogs, but they should be handled with care and only used as a final option.
  • Type: If you decide to use a chemical drain cleaner, make sure to choose one that is appropriate for the type of clog you are dealing with, and carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

7. Towels or Rags:

  • Purpose: Keep some towels or rags nearby to clean up spills or wipe down the area after unclogging.

8. Screwdriver (Optional):

  • Purpose: Depending on your bathtub’s design, you may need a screwdriver to remove the drain cover or access the drainpipe.

9. Flashlight (Optional):

  • Purpose: Using a flashlight can help you see inside the drain and assess the location and severity of the clog.

Make sure you have all the tools and equipment you need before you start unclogging the bathtub drain. Having the right tools will make it easier and faster to fix the problem. Always be safe when using tools and handling dangerous materials.

Unclog a bathtub drain with standing water Step-by-Step

Preparing the Work Area:

Before you begin the process of unclogging your bathtub drain with standing water, it’s essential to prepare the work area properly. Start by gathering all the necessary tools and equipment, including a plunger, drain snake, bucket, rubber gloves, safety goggles, towels or rags, and any optional items like a flashlight or old clothes.

Removing Excess Standing Water:

The first step to unclog a bathtub drain with standing water is to remove the excess water. Start by using a sturdy bucket to scoop out as much standing water as possible from the bathtub.

Make sure to work carefully and efficiently, emptying the bucket as necessary to prevent any accidental spills or overflows.

Removing excess water creates a more manageable environment for unclogging efforts and reduces the risk of water damage or mess. This initial step sets the stage for a focused and effective approach to resolving the clog in your drain.

Using a Plunger Effectively:

Using a plunger effectively is a key step in unclogging a bathtub drain that has standing water. Here is a detailed breakdown of the process:

  1. Select the Right Plunger: Choose a plunger designed specifically for sinks and bathtubs. These plungers have a flat, flexible bottom (often referred to as a flange) that forms a better seal over the drain.
  2. Prepare the Plunger: Ensure that the plunger’s rubber cup is clean and free from any debris or residue that could hinder the seal.
  3. Position the Plunger: Place the plunger over the drain opening, ensuring it covers the entire area. Make sure the rubber cup is fully in contact with the surface around the drain for a tight seal.
  4. Push Down Gently: With the plunger in position, gently press down to create a seal between the plunger and the drain. This seal is crucial for generating the necessary suction.
  5. Pull Up Sharply: After establishing a good seal, pull the plunger’s handle up sharply. This action creates suction and pushes and pulls water back and forth in the drain, potentially dislodging the clog.
  6. Repeat the Plunging Motion: Repeat the plunging motion several times, maintaining the tight seal each time. The repeated pressure changes can help break up and clear the clog.
  7. Check for Drainage: After a few rounds of plunging, check if the water in the tub starts to drain. If you notice improved drainage, continue plunging until the water flows freely. If there’s no improvement, move on to the next step in the unclogging process.

It is essential to remain patient and persistent while using the plunger. In some cases, it may take several attempts to effectively dislodge the clog. If plunging does not resolve the issue, you can explore other methods such as using a drain snake or natural solutions, or seek professional plumbing assistance if the clog persists.

Employing a Drain Snake:

If the plunger doesn’t effectively clear the clog in your bathtub drain with standing water, employing a drain snake can be the next step. Here’s how to use a drain snake effectively:

  1. Prepare the Drain Snake: Begin by extending the length of the drain snake as needed to reach the clog. Ensure that the snake is clean and free from any debris or obstructions.
  2. Insert the Drain Snake: Carefully insert the drain snake into the drain opening, guiding it into the pipe. Gradually push the snake further into the pipe while maintaining control over its movement.
  3. Rotate the Snake: As you insert the snake, begin to rotate it slowly. This twisting action can help dislodge or break up the clog that’s causing the blockage.
  4. Identify Resistance: If you encounter resistance while pushing the snake, it’s likely that you’ve reached the clog. Continue to push and rotate the snake to either break up or extract the obstruction causing the clog.
  5. Slowly Pull Out the Snake: Once you’ve dealt with the clog, slowly and carefully pull the drain snake out of the drain. As you do so, the snake should bring with it any debris or material that was contributing to the blockage.

By effectively using a drain snake, you can physically address and remove the clog, restoring proper drainage to your bathtub. Remember to exercise caution and patience during this process to avoid causing damage to your plumbing system. If using a drain snake doesn’t resolve the issue, it might be time to consider professional plumbing assistance for a more thorough inspection and resolution of the problem.

Checking for Success:

After taking the necessary steps to clear a clogged bathtub drain with standing water, it is crucial to verify that the drain has been fully cleared. Here is how to check for success:

  1. Run Hot Water: To test the drainage system, turn on the hot water tap and let the water flow into the bathtub drain. Running hot water is an effective way to determine if the drainage system is functioning properly.
  2. Observe Water Flow: Pay close attention to the water flow in the drain. If the water flows freely and smoothly down the drain without backing up or pooling in the tub, it indicates that the clog has likely been successfully cleared.
  3. Confirmation: The successful flow of hot water confirms that your efforts to unclog the drain were effective. It is a positive sign that the blockage has been removed and the drain is now clear.

Eco-friendly and natural methods for unclogging

1. Baking Soda and Vinegar:

  • Ingredients:
    • 1/2 cup of baking soda
    • 1/2 cup of vinegar
  • Procedure: This combination creates a foaming reaction that can help break down clogs and clear the drain.
    1. Begin by pouring 1/2 cup of baking soda down the clogged drain.
    2. Immediately follow with 1/2 cup of vinegar.
    3. You will notice a fizzing and bubbling reaction, indicating that the mixture is breaking down the clog.
    4. Allow the mixture to sit and work for 15-30 minutes.
    5. After the waiting period, flush the drain with hot water to wash away the remnants of the clog that have been broken down by the baking soda and vinegar.

2. Hot Water and Salt:

  • Ingredients:
    • Boiling water
    • 1/2 cup of table salt
  • Procedure: This method uses hot water to dissolve grease and salt to help break down clogs.
    1. Boil a large pot of water.
    2. Carefully pour the boiling water directly down the clogged drain.
    3. Follow this by adding 1/2 cup of table salt into the drain.
    4. Let this mixture sit for several hours or even overnight. The hot water helps to melt away grease and soap scum, while the salt assists in breaking down the clog.
    5. After the waiting period, rinse the drain with hot water again to flush away the remnants of the clog.

3. Baking Soda and Salt:

  • Ingredients:
    • 1/2 cup of baking soda
    • 1/2 cup of salt
  • Procedure: This method combines baking soda and salt to create an abrasive mixture that can help scrub away clogs.
    1. In a bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of salt.
    2. Pour the mixture down the clogged drain.
    3. Allow it to sit for several hours or overnight.
    4. During this time, the abrasive mixture will help break down the clog and scrub away debris.
    5. After the waiting period, rinse the drain with hot water to clear away any remaining clog remnants.

4. Hot Water Only:

  • Procedure: This method relies solely on the power of hot water to dissolve and flush away the clog.
    1. Boil a large pot of water.
    2. Carefully pour the boiling water down the clogged drain.
    3. If necessary, repeat this process. Sometimes, a single application of hot water may be enough to clear minor clogs.

Preventive Maintenance for Bathtub Drain

Taking proactive steps to prevent clogs in your bathtub drain is essential to maintaining smooth drainage and avoiding the hassle of dealing with blockages. Here are some preventive maintenance tips to keep your bathtub drain in good condition:

1. Use Drain Covers:

Install drain covers or strainers over your bathtub drain to catch hair, soap scum, and debris before they enter the drainpipe. Clean the drain cover regularly to prevent buildup.

2. Hair Removal Techniques:

Use a hair catcher or trap in the tub to collect hair during showers or baths. Regularly remove and clean the hair catcher to prevent clogs.

3. Avoid Pouring Grease:

Avoid pouring cooking grease or oily substances down the drain. Grease can solidify and create clogs over time.

4. Rinse with Hot Water:

Once a week, pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to help dissolve soap scum and minor buildup. This can help maintain a clear drain.

5. Regular Cleaning:

Periodically clean the bathtub and drain with a mixture of baking soda and water. This can help prevent soap scum and residue buildup.

6. Avoid Harsh Chemicals:

Avoid using harsh chemical drain cleaners regularly, as they can damage pipes over time. Opt for natural cleaning solutions instead.

7. Monthly Maintenance:

Once a month, flush the drain with a combination of hot water and vinegar. Pour 1 cup of baking soda followed by 1 cup of vinegar down the drain, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then rinse with hot water.

8. Proper Disposal:

Dispose of solid waste, like tissue paper or dental floss, in the trash rather than flushing it down the toilet or washing it down the bathtub drain.

9. Monitor Water Flow:

Pay attention to the water flow in your bathtub. If you notice slow drainage, take immediate action to prevent a minor issue from becoming a major clog.

10. Install a P-Trap: If your bathtub drain doesn’t have a P-trap (a curved pipe that traps debris and prevents odors), consider installing one. A P-trap can help prevent clogs by trapping hair and debris.

By implementing these preventive maintenance tips, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of clogs in your bathtub drain and ensure efficient and uninterrupted water flow. Regular maintenance not only saves you from the inconvenience of dealing with clogs but also extends the lifespan of your plumbing system.

Use Chemical Drain Cleaners to Unclog a Bathtub?

There are numerous types of chemical drain cleaners available that can be used to unclog a bathtub drain. However, these should not be your first option. Although it may seem like an easy fix, using these cleaners can cause permanent damage to your pipes, which may require replacement in the future. This can be a costly mistake that should be avoided if possible.

Aside from the financial costs, the use of chemicals can be detrimental to the environment. If the water from your pipes ends up in a river or reservoir, it can have negative effects on the ecosystem. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider alternative methods for unclogging your drain before resorting to chemical cleaners.

When should you call a plumber?

By following one of the methods mentioned above, you can effectively unclog your drain and save money while ensuring a healthy home.

However, it’s important to note that if you encounter any issues while cleaning the drain with bleaching powder or have trouble opening the overflow due to a stuck snake, it’s best to seek the assistance of a professional plumber. They will be able to quickly and effectively access the drain.


Unclogging a bathtub drain with standing water can be a daunting task, but with the right tools, techniques, and preventive maintenance, it can be done safely and effectively.

Always start with the least harmful methods such as plunging and natural solutions before resorting to harsh chemicals.

To maintain a clear and efficient drainage system, it is crucial to keep bathroom accessories such as soap, hair, and other debris from going down the drain.

With these tips and techniques, you can keep all your bathroom drains flowing smoothly and avoid the hassle and expense of dealing with clogs.

If you are also interested in bathroom showers, bathtubs, toilets, bathroom floors, and bathroom accessories, you can visit our website

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