What Causes a Drain to Clog Up and Back Up Into the Bathtub?

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Did your hot, relaxing shower just turn into an ankle-deep experience? When a clog forms in your tub drain, it might drain slowly or it might back up completely. Using home remedies to clear drains helps the current situation, but stopping a repeat makes your showers more enjoyable. Identify the causes of bathtub clogs to prevent the problem in the future.



Bathtub clogs can happen due to hair, soap scum, hard water, sand, dirt, and larger items that get stuck in the drain.

Buildup of Hair

One of the biggest issues in bathtub drains is hair, especially if anyone in your house has long hair. When you wash your hair, strands fall out and go down the drain. They can get stuck inside the drain and clump up with other debris that goes down. Even the little hairs from shaving legs in the shower can build up.

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Using a hair catcher in your tub can stop most of the hair from making it into the drain. Clean the hair out of the catcher regularly to keep it from getting clogged. Brushing your hair before you shower can remove some of the loose hairs, so you don't lose as much in the shower.

Dirt, Sand, and Other Gunk

The point of the shower is to get clean, but that also means you're sending everything you wash off your body down the drain. That debris can contribute to bathtub clogs. It can be even more of an issue if your kids get really muddy playing outdoors or you wash off in the shower after being at the beach. When possible, hose off sand and mud outdoors with a hose before getting into the bathtub.


Hard Water Buildup

In many areas, hard water is an issue that can cause buildup throughout your plumbing system. Hard water happens when the water coming into your home has high levels of calcium and magnesium in it. Those minerals can build up inside pipes, in drains, and on visible surfaces of plumbing fixtures. Hard water buildup typically won't be severe enough on its own to clog your pipes, but it can narrow them and make other clog-causing items stick inside the drains. Installing a water softener can reduce the issues of hard water buildup.


Soap Scum Buildup

All the scrubbing you do to get yourself clean produces lots of suds. The soap you wash down the drain might not make it out of your home. Soap scum is a film that can cover your tub and build up in the drain. It's even worse if you have hard water since the calcium and magnesium particles team up with the soap to make soap scum. The soap scum can also combine with hair to make a tougher clog.


Items Dropped Down the Drain

If you have a bathtub drain stopper installed in your tub, you shouldn't have to worry about larger items getting dropped down the drain. But if you have an open drain without a stopper, larger items that don't belong in the drain could fall into it. If you have kids, they might shove little toys or random things they find in the bathroom down the open drain. You might drop a shaver replacement blade down the drain while you're changing it.


If you can see the object, you might be able to grab it with pliers before it goes all the way down the drain. If it's already gone, you might need to call a plumber to remove the object. To prevent this issue in the future, install a stopper in your bathtub.




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