MY TUB WON’T DRAIN
The blockage may be easier to clear than you think. A clogged bath tub drain is commonly the result of hair building a blockage in the tub drain assembly. The tub drain has a ‘cross hair’ type strainer that is designed to trap debris and hair. The ‘cross hair’ strainer does the job well and provides minimal surface area, facilitating flow as water runs out of the tub.
This is where the water drains from the tub when there is no blockage in the drain. The ‘cross hair’ strainer mentioned earlier is located in the mouth of the drain. The mouth of the drain is easy to comprehend. You look at it when watching the vortex pattern appear in the water as it passes out of the tub. The mouth of the drain, is tied to a horizontal piece of piping known as the “drain arm’. The drain arm is only about 6″ long. It ties to a “Tee”. When the water from the drain arm hits the tee, the water then drops to the “trap”. From the trap, the water then follows the piping from the branch line to a larger pipe and then on to the sewer. The vertical piping in the area marked ‘waste & overflow’ above the horizontal piece is the overflow. You may have had an occasion to notice, while filling the tub, the tub will not overfill the tub due to a properly installed overflow. Many times, a drain cleaner will remove the overflow cover to relieve the clogged tub drain with a cable or any one of other devices. The over flow cover is also where some manufactures of drain assemblies put linkage for the mechanical plug used to fill the tub or allow water to drain out. A broken mechanical plug is sometimes the culprit for a clogged drain. The ‘u’- shape beneath the waste & overflow is the trap. In this case, it is a ‘p-trap’. The trap, when filled with water will not permit harmful and noxious gas to enter the dwelling. The trap also inhibits objects from entering the piping which could cause a clog in the tub’s drainage system. The tub’s ‘p-trap’ is not always accessible or easily removed. In this case, the p-trap may have to be cut out if something is stuck in it and can not be extracted. Here is a drawing of a tub with a ‘drum-trap’ in the tub drain line.
Notice the ‘can’ shape where the ‘p-trap’ was in the previous diagram. A drum trap will not permit solids to traverse the drain because grey water enters the trap from the bottom and exits from the top. What ever the case, when a home owner has this type of trap in the tub drain assembly, the trap needs to be accessible. More times than not, there is no access to the drum trap. This makes clearing a clogged tub drain difficult with out cutting a hole in the floor, wall behind the tub or in the ceiling beneath the tub.
Sometimes, pressure can be used to force the clogged tub drain to open. For both types of traps, this may be an easy quick fix step for clearing the drain, with out having to cable. Buy this product:
Cover the drain with a dish or bowl as to not allow anything to get dropped down the drain. Remove the overflow cover. Get a garden hose to the tub. Thread the bladder onto the hose. Insert the bladder (hose attached) through the hole in the wall of the tub, ensuring the bladder drops down the overflow tube, past the drain and not forced into the trap. Have someone holding the hose and turn the water to the garden hose on. Let the bladder sit in the drain for a few minutes, providing the piping has not blown apart. Turn the water off and pull the bladder up past the tub drain. Run the tub faucet. If the water is not sitting in the tub, job done. Pull the hose with the bladder out and reinstall the overflow.
Some overflow covers are also the location for the drain plug assembly’s lift rod mechanism. When the lift rod mechanism is removed, it may have hair or other yucky stuff on it. Remove the debris and reinsert the lift rod mechanism, threading the screws back into the holes provided. Be careful to not cross thread the screws. These are fine, tapered thread patterns that will cross easily and thread a few turns before you know the threads are crossed. Please know we are only telling you what methods are available to you. If the piping blows apart because of a bad slip joint or you develop a leak, it is incidental to the method being used. It could happen so be ready. Venting is also very important in drainage. Without a vent, no air can get to the drain and you would have a difficult time draining large amounts of water. The reason is the water is attempting to traverse the drain in large slugs. If there is no air line, the water will become locked until it either trickles out to the drainage line to a larger diameter pipe, or air is introduced. Imagine a soda bottle turned on its’ side. If the pitch is not too steep, the soda runs out of the bottle in laminar flow. However, tip the bottle to pitch too steep, and the air flow is inhibited. The result is slugs of water and air act in an exchange pattern we refer to as chugging or gurgling.