How to clean and unclog bathtub drains

Unplugging bathtub drains can be troublesome, so preventive measures are advisable. Keep a bathtub from clogging by cleaning the stopper assembly every few weeks. On most tubs, remove the screws from the overflow plate and pull out the assembly. Then ease the stopper out. Clean both pieces of any hair or soap and reinstall them. With the curved part of the stopper linkage facing down, work the stopper gently back and forth to fit it into place.

Chemical drain cleaners, if used frequently, may cause deterioration of the drain system. However, an occasional application may help prevent buildup of hair and soap in out-ofreach parts of the system. Follow the package directions carefully and rinse the drain area thoroughly afterwards.

Caution: Many chemical drain cleaners are dangerous. If you splash any cleaner on your skin, wash it off immediately in cold water. If the drain is clogged and the cleaner doesn’t work, it may remain in the tub. Call a plumber. Don’t try unclogging the drain yourself by other means; the leftover cleaner may splatter you.

If a bathtub drain clogs, remove the stopper and use a plunger, first stuffing a wet rag into the overflow drain to increase pressure. If a plunger doesn’t work, try using a thin, flexible wire. If the trap is located near the drain hole, insert the wire into the overflow opening. If the trap is situated at a distance from the drain, thread the wire through the drain hole. If you cannot reach the stoppage, call a plumber.