There is a wide variety of do-it-yourself shower drain unclogging tips online. Baking soda with vinegar, a plastic hair remover, and an auger are all common suggestions for removing a stubborn clog that's leaving standing water in the bottom of your shower. But sometimes these methods don't work.
Failure usually means it's time to call the plumber, but here are a few of the reasons your DIY shower drain unclogging can fail.
Plunging with Overflow Pipe
Many showers have an overflow drain in the basin or in the bathtub portion of the unit. The overflow is there to prevent building water from overflowing out onto your bathroom floor where it can cause significant water damage.
While the overflow pipe is handy overall, the pipe can get in the way of your drain unclogging efforts. Using a small plunger is usually a great way to remove a clog but the presence of an overflow pipe ends up sending some of the plunged air force out through the overflow rather than down the pipe.
A simple solution is to temporarily block the overflow pipe. Remove the cover plate – it's usually screwed on – and you should see a gasket. Fold a wet washcloth and hold it over the gasket. Use your other hand or a helper to plunge the drain. If the water starts to recede after a few plunges, you know this trick worked. Otherwise, you should call plumbers.
T-Joint in Pipe
Most drain unclogging tips or tools assume that the piping under the drain is a straight line for the most part. But not all plumbing is created or installed equally. Sometimes there's a bit of a piping oddity happening under there such as a t-joint that serves as a junction for a few sections of pipe.
Snakes and augers have trouble getting to a clog that's in or past a t-joint due to the sharp turns involved. Again, you're probably better off calling a plumber for help if you suspect some odd plumbing at work. The plumber can fix the drain and the plumbing setup in one visit.
But if you want to try to unclog the drain yourself, head to a hardware store for a length of copper wire to use as a makeshift auger. Copper is highly malleable, which means the wire can bend more easily when it reaches a turn.
Work the wire down carefully until you feel an obstruction and then push hard. If it's the junction, your wire should turn and free up again until it hits the clog. Once the wire hits the clog, use a rapid stabbing motion to try and break it up.