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How to Unclog a Shower Drain With a Plunger

Shower drains get clogged surprisingly easily. Soap scum, body oils, hair, and other buildup collects quickly to develop a clog somewhere in your drain. Addressing the issue as quickly as possible is important to protecting the integrity of your shower drain and keeping your shower in proper working condition.

While many homeowners might reach for chemical cleaning products or even drain snakes to clear out a clog, these items don’t always do the job. If you’re looking for other DIY options and wondering how to unclog a shower drain with a plunger, you’ve come to the right place. The next time the opportunity presents itself, try using a plunger for shower drain clogs and you might be surprised at how handy a tool it is.

Can You Use a Plunger On a Shower Drain?

It’s a logical question: can a plunger unclog a shower drain? They work so well on toilets, so why not a shower drain? Not only can you use a plunger for shower drain clogs, but it actually might be the perfect tool for your situation!

Popular drain cleaning chemicals and even natural remedies like chasing baking soda with vinegar in your drain are capable of clearing away some smaller clogs, but these remedies don’t work well for everything. If you’ve tried all the drain cleaning methods you can think of, then it may be time to use the plunger. Pressurizing water against the clog in your drain can help loosen anything that’s trapped and clear your drain.

How the Overflow Drain Works

If your shower or bathtub has an overflow drain, you’ll need to understand how it works to properly plunge your shower drain clog.

Overflow drains allow water to exit your basin and go into your sewer lines to help prevent overflowing water in case the drain is clogged or closed. The overflow drain is often located directly below your shower faucet and typically consists of a circular metal plate and a drain hole. This hole routes to your drainage system, giving excess water another means of exit.

How to unclog a shower drain with a plunger begins with carefully removing the overflow drainage plate. Then you will need to block the overflow drain with a wet rag to make sure any force you exert onto your shower drain only goes down to dislodge the clog, and not out the overflow drain.

Steps to Unclog a Shower Drain with a Plunger

1. Seal the Overflow Drain

As mentioned above, you will need to seal your overflow drain if you’re hoping to learn how to unclog the shower drain with a plunger. You can do this by blocking it up with a wet rag after removing the overflow plate. This is a necessary step to protect your overflow drain from breaking and help make your plunger effective.

2. Prepare the Bathtub

To make your plunger effective, you will need to prepare your tub properly. Make sure to fill it with a small amount of water, enough to fully cover the bottom part of the plunger. This gives the plunger something other than air to force against the clog in your shower drain.

3. Position the Plunger

Place your plunger carefully over the drain of your shower, making sure to seal it completely. If it's not sealed completely, your efforts won't be as effective.

4. Plunge the Drain 

Once everything is prepared and your plunger is positioned, begin the process of plunging using strong upward and downward movements. Most clogs in shower drains will dislodge after five or six solid, strong, forceful rhythms of plunging. Lift the plunger to see if the water is beginning to drain at its normal rate. If not, plunge again.

5. Ensure Overflow Drain is In Working Condition

Once your shower drain is beginning to drain water properly, it’s time to rinse out your shower and replace the overflow drain. Once you’ve done this, fill your tub to test the overflow drain and make sure it’s working properly and draining any overflow water.

Call John C. Flood for Plumbing Services

Can a plunger unclog a shower drain? Absolutely. Now you’ve learned all the steps. If this process works and you’ve successfully dislodged your shower drain, then congratulations! In the case that it didn’t work or you have more serious plumbing issues on hand, you should always call a professional plumbing team to handle it. Never attempt to deconstruct your shower drain to solve the clog or else you could cause more serious harm. Call the plumbing experts at John C. Flood to schedule a service appointment.