A clogged bathtub can look like a major problem, but there are several solutions, including vinegar, that could clear the bathtub drain quickly and inexpensively. Follow a logical sequence for methods to use to try to unclog a bathtub or sink drain. If the first doesn't work, move on to the next, and with any luck you can clear the drain yourself without calling in a plumber.
Remove the stopper from the drain, and use a bent coat hanger to hook and fish out as much of the clog as you can, which is a fairly disgusting procedure, but it could solve your problem without further ado.
A clog in a bathtub drain is most likely to be in the trap, a curved piece of piping about 6 inches below the drain itself. The purpose of the trap is to keep sewer gases (nasty and possibly lethal) out of your house. A small amount of water stays in the U-shaped part of the trap and creates a barrier for the gases. A curved pipe can slow down the flow of water in a drain and allow it to become clogged with soap, hair and debris. Before you try using vinegar to get rid of the clog, start by trying to clear the clog with a plunger, which works by forcing air and water into the drain at high pressure, which hopefully will loosen the clog and push it down the drain. Position the plunger over the drain opening. Push it down hard several times. It will pop back up after each plunge. You may need to repeat plunge the drain several times, but keep trying. This simple procedure usually works. (Note that a sink plunger is a different shape from a toilet plunger; use the correct type.)
If the plunger alone doesn't work, you'll need to try a chemical solution. The least dangerous (and cheapest) chemical unclogger is vinegar and baking soda. Pour 3/4 cup of baking soda down the drain. Use the least expensive brand you can find; it will work as well as any other. Now pour in 3/4 cup of white vinegar. Stand away from the drain when you pour in the vinegar. Vinegar and baking soda create an immediate, forceful chemical reaction. Stuff a cloth in the drain so the bubbles created by the solution stay in the drain. After 30 minutes, take the cloth out of the drain and pour in a gallon of very hot water. If you do not have immediate success, you can try the plunger again. The vinegar-baking soda combination is not caustic, so it will not hurt you even if some splashes out while you are plunging.
Liquid Drain Openers
Now is the time to try a commercial liquid drain opener available at the grocery, hardware or home improvement store. These liquid chemicals are poured into the drain where they dissolve the clog. Do not plunge a drain after you have poured in a liquid drain cleaner. The cleaners use harsh chemicals that could damage your eyes or irritate you skin if they splash out of the drain.
If the drain is still clogged, use a snake. Feed about 30 inches of the cable down the overflow tube. Push the snake further into the drain, and turn it using the hand crank. Pull the snake back up, remove the gunk it has retrieved and repeat until the clog is cleared.
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