A clogged bathtub is a serious problem that needs to be addressed promptly before it becomes a bigger one. Like all plumbing issues, you need to catch it early before it becomes compounded. And every blocked or clogged tub is a little different.

So, what causes a bathtub to clog up?

We’ve got you covered. Below, we’ve outlined the most common causes of a clogged bathtub or shower and what you can do to fix them.

Keep reading for the full guide!

Hair Buildup

Hair can easily become tangled in the drain strainer and trap other debris. If left untreated, the clog can become severe. 

To prevent this troublesome and messy problem, it is important to remove all visible hair strands from the tub before showers. This will prevent strands from going down the drain. 

Keeping a small container next to the tub to collect the hair and debris is also a good idea. Additionally, using a periodic medicinal drain cleaner can help to flush out the trap and break down the excess hair.

It also helps to cover the drain with a fine mesh filter to catch any particles before they have a chance to build up. A plumbing snake is also an effective tool for dealing with a clogged tub due to hair.

Soap Scum

Over time, soap will accumulate on the sides of the tub along with other dirt and debris. They form thick layers that can block the water from properly draining out of the tub. The accumulation of soap scum will cause a decrease in the speed with which your tub drains, resulting in a clogged system.

Regularly scrubbing down the sides of your tub can help to minimize the amount of soap scum buildup. If the problem becomes worse, it might be time to call residential plumbing services. They can provide powerful solutions to help clear the clog and restore your tub’s drainage to normal.

Chemical Clogs

They are most often caused by the overuse of household cleaning products. They can also be from the build-up of residue from products such as shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.

To help remove a chemical clog, chemical drain cleaners are often used. These chemicals may seem like a quick fix, but they contain caustic material that can damage pipes, so use them sparingly.

The chemicals work to dissolve the branched chain molecules, breaking down the hard clog and allowing it to go down the drain. Regularly unclogging drains with chemical drain cleaners can also lead to future clogs or corrosion issues. If chemical cleaners are used, it is important to make sure to follow the directions carefully to avoid damaging pipes.

Hard Water

Hard water can cause a clogged tub when the water contains too many minerals such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals can build up in your plumbing system, leading to blockages and clogs. If left unchecked, the problem can worsen to the point where it affects the flow and pressure of your water.

Hard water can also cause limescale to build up on fixtures and surfaces, which can be near impossible to clean effectively. It is important to regularly flush out your tub with a good quality detergent to help reduce build-up.

The best solution is to install a water softener in your home. This will help limit the number of minerals found within the water and reduce the potential for clogs.

Malfunctioning Drainage

Most tubs get clogged up due to malfunctioning drainage systems. It’s usually due to some type of blockage in the plumbing system. They’re caused by debris or other materials that can build up over time and cause blockages.

Symptoms such as sluggish drains, gurgling noises, or standing water in the tub are all indicators of a clogged tub. To unclog the tub, you must first locate and remove the blockage from the plumbing system.

To avoid this issue in the future, it is important to clean the tub drain and remove any debris. Also, using a drain strainer can help to limit the amount of debris that is entering the tub. Maintaining a well-functioning drainage system is key to a clog-free tub.

Pipe Damage

Pipe damage can be caused by age, poor construction methods, or corrosion. Depending on the type of material used in the tub, a repair can vary in complexity. You may need to replace an old tub constructed of galvanized steel, while a newer tub will likely need to be cleared of debris.

Damaged pipes can lead to clogging. Corrosion can cause pipe breakage. The water pressure can send broken pieces of the pipe further down the line and causes excess blockage.

It’s important to remove any debris as soon as it’s noticed, as it can lead to further obstructions and damage. Conduct regular inspections of the pipes to identify damages. Make sure to repair them quickly to prevent further blockages.

Inadequate Cleaning Practices

The debris that seeps over time into the tub, mostly caused by improper cleaning practices, will eventually clog the pipes. This makes it difficult to unfurl the clog. 

A simple solution is to fill the tub with hot water and a few teaspoons of liquid dish soap. This can be followed by a 15-minute soak to help loosen any debris that may have gotten clogged in the pipes.

After the soak, pour boiling water down the drain a few times to clear it out and expel any debris that may be lingering. Regularly cleaning stoppers and grates on the surface of the tub can help keep the drain clear of debris, reduce the grime build-up, and lead to longer-lasting drain performance.

Tree Root Intrusion

Tree root intrusion is one of the causes of a clogged tub, a homeowner’s nightmare. Trees send out underground root masses, which can migrate through nearby sewer lines and infiltrate, leading to a clogged-up bathtub.

As the tree roots grow and expand, they can puncture, displace, and even block completely the flow of water through a line and cause a severe clog. If a homeowner observes a slow-moving drain and finds that no matter how much is cleared out, the drain does not flow, tree root intrusion is likely the cause.

Homeowners can attempt to clear tree roots out themselves. If unsuccessful, the best option is to call in a professional residential plumber with the right tools and experience to clear out any tree roots and restore clear draining.

Faulty Plumbing Design and Installation

Faulty plumbing design and installation are two of the leading causes of clogged tubs. Poor planning can result in clogged systems when bathtubs, toilets, and sinks are placed too close together. When tubs and showers are installed to share a drain, natural hair product residue over time can build up inside the shared drain, resulting in clogs.

Inadequate pipe sizing and the installation of too few or too few vents can contribute to clogged drains. Poor piping design can also cause problems, such as not providing enough downward slope on pipes in order to allow water, dirt, and debris to flow away from the fixture.

Poor plumbing installation practices can also cause problems. This includes failure to seal pipe and drain connections, incorrect water pressure, and incorrect pipe size, all of which can lead to clogged pipes.

To avoid faulty plumbing design and installation, the most important step is to plan and document the system carefully. Designers should be aware of applicable codes, standards, and regulations. They should abide by local building and plumbing requirements.

Additionally, they should designate appropriate system pressures. They should also take into account the locations of the installed piping.

Before installation begins, inspect the materials to make sure they meet quality and safety standards. The system should be tested and inspected after installation. Lastly, once the project is complete, owners should ask for a completed set of design plans and a warranty for any components used.

Dead Skin Cells

Dead skin cells are present when bathing or showering, as well as when washing clothes, dishes, or other items. As the dead skin cells accumulate, they stick together and can form a clog in your tub. This is especially true for baths with a lot of standing water.

To prevent clogging, it is important to clean the tub and use a strain-blocking device when taking baths/showers. Additionally, use products like baking soda or vinegar to break down any build-up that may be blocking the tub’s drainage system.

Lastly, avoid harsh chemical agents as these can damage both the interior of the tub and the environment. Taking these precautions can help keep the tub from clogging and ensure the drainage works correctly. Doing so will also help extend the life of your tub.

Identifying Signs of a Clogged Tub

To conclude, the causes of clogged tubs can come from many different factors. This includes a buildup of foreign materials, such as hair, soap scum, or other debris, or a broken or blocked drain.

Cleaning the tub regularly and unclogging the drain often can help avoid these issues. If you find yourself in a situation where your tub is clogged, consider reaching out to a professional plumber for assistance.

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