Home Bathrooms: Preventing Clogged Shower Drains

If you have ever shuddered at the thought of clogged shower drains and high plumber bills, you will be glad to know that you can prevent congested drains in the future.

Apart from finding a spider in the tub, discovering that a shower drain is clogged is one of the most unsettling bathtub experiences people are likely to encounter. Taking a shower one day, we look down to see water up to our ankles, then our calves -- with no signs of receding. We have frightening thoughts of expensive liquid drain cleaners that never seem to work and ridiculous plumber bills race through our minds, leaving us wondering if something could have been done to prevent the clog in the first place. Luckily, there are several ways to keep your drains flowing properly.

Because bathrooms have transformed into mini-spas from the stinky outhouses of the past, maintaining them in perfect working order has become of almost religious importance. Along with cleaning, deodorizing, and sanitizing your bathroom, it is important to take care of your pluming, especially in the frequently used shower. The first step in keeping the shower drain clear is to install a strainer on your drain. Although many stalls come equipped with them, they are often inadequate, having drain holes that are more than large enough to allow hair, soap chunks, and various other clog culprits down the drain. There are many excellent strainers available, including models designed to catch even pet hair. These strainers will also do an excellent job of catching debris. Empty them frequently and say goodbye to your clogged drains forever. Do-it-yourselfers will be glad to know that you can also make a simple strainer by putting a bit of nylon pantyhose over the drain. It works well to fasten the edges of the nylon under the existing strainer after unscrewing it. Replace this cheap and easy alternative weekly.

If you choose to keep the strainer that is already in place, you can help prevent drainage problems by removing it weekly and cleaning it thoroughly. If it is screwed into place, remove the screws carefully and lift it out of place using the edge of a screwdriver or a butter knife. Many people make the mistake of buying chemical drain cleaners to remove clogs that accumulate here. They do not realize that hair tangles around the strainer as water runs over it, creating a net that catches more hair as well as soap and dirt. It can easily be removed and maintained, allowing you to spare your plumbing of the potentially harmful effects of drain cleaners. Although these products are generally safe when used occasionally, overuse can cause corrosion, especially in pipes made of copper and iron. Read all the cautions of any products carefully before exposing your plumbing to them.

Another important preventative measure you should take is to keep cleaners, paint thinners, and other chemicals out of the drain. This is especially true if you have a septic tank because its naturally occurring bacteria can be destroyed by these products. Also, it is a good idea to have your septic tank inspected every two to three years to prevent back-ups that could cause especially foul clogging issues. Instead, try pouring a pan of boiling water down the shower drain weekly to help break up hairy clogs and remove soap and body wash residue. Adding borax (washing soda) to this water will increase its effectiveness without introducing caustic ingredients to your drains.

It is also possible to create a monthly drain treatment using safe household products. Professionals recommend pouring one cup of baking soda down your shower drain followed by one cup of vinegar to dissolve any existing clogs. Vinegar also breaks up hard water deposits, hence its use as a coffee pot cleaner, so it will be especially beneficial to those without water softeners. Some plumbers also suggest that every six months a non-caustic drain cleaner be used. This is optional if you follow all the previous recommendations, as proper maintenance should diminish the need for intense cleaning.

Finally, use common sense when using your shower. Do not treat it like a trash can, pouring inappropriate things like hot wax down the drain. If you are renovating your shower, be careful to cover the drain to keep out dust and debris that are likely to plug it up. Basically, if you only use your shower for its intended purpose, you will greatly limit the problems you experience with draining. Practice these preventative tips to keep your bathroom looking and feeling like a sanctuary, all the way down to the drains.

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