How to unclog a bathtub drain without removing the stopper

You’re taking a bath after a long day and suddenly realize the water isn’t draining. The drain must be clogged! But before you reach for the plunger, try to unclog the bathtub drain without removing the stopper.

It’s a trick that often works and can save you from dealing with a pesky plunger. All you need is some hot water and vinegar. Keep reading to learn how it’s done.

How to unclog a bathtub drain without removing the stopper

Check the Stopper and Drain for Buildup

The first thing you should do is check the stopper and drain for buildup. Sometimes all it takes is elbow grease to remove the clog. If that’s not the case, move on to step two.

Use a Plunger to Dislodge Clogs in the Bathtub

If the water isn’t draining quickly from your bathtub, there’s likely a clog in the drain. You don’t have to remove the stopper to clear the clog; you can use a plunger to do the job.

First, ensure that the plunger is the right size for your bathtub drain. If it’s too small, it won’t be able to create enough suction to dislodge the clog. Next, fill the bathtub with enough water to cover the plunger, and then pour a little bit of dish soap over the plunger.

Put the plunger over the drain and push and pull it up and down until you see the water drain quickly. You can use a plumbing snake to clear the clog if this doesn’t work.

Check for a Clog in the Overflow Pipe

If the water level in your bathtub is consistently high, you may have a clog in the overflow pipe despite not running the full faucet blast. This pipe is designed to take water overflowing from the bathtub and direct it to the sewer. If it’s clogged, that extra water will overflow onto the floor.

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To check for this, turn off the water in the tub and remove the stopper. Once it’s out, look down into the drain and see if you can see any water or debris. If you can, use a plunger to try to clear the clog.

If you can’t see anything in the drain and plunging doesn’t work, it’s time to call a professional.

Use a Plumbing Snake to Clear the Clog

If you don’t have access to a plunger or a liquid drain cleaner, then your next best bet is to use a plumbing snake. This tool is great for plunging through clogs deep in the pipes.

To do this properly, you’ll need to place the head of the snake into the drain opening and crank it counterclockwise. As you do this, the flexible cable will go deeper into the pipes until it reaches the clog. 

Once it reaches the clog, keep cranking until you feel resistance, and pull out the snake. This should pull any residue from your pipes and get your drain flowing again.

If this doesn’t do the trick, then try pushing and pulling back and forth while cranking to break up any bigger clogs that may be lodged in there. Keep at it until all the debris has been cleared.

Utilize a Chemical Drain Cleaner

Grab a chemical drain cleaner if you still have trouble unclogging your bathtub drain without removing the stopper. These products contain a combination of acids and surfactants that can dissolve clogs. 

The safest way to use them is by following the directions carefully and pouring the liquid into the drain. It’s important to wear protective gloves and keep children and pets away from the area while the product is sitting in the drain.

Typically, you should let it sit for 20-30 minutes and then run hot water through your tub to help flush out any remaining clogs. Remember that chemical cleaners can corrode metals like brass, so it’s best to avoid using them on those materials if possible.

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Contact a Plumber for Serious Clogs

If none of the above methods work, you’re probably looking at a more serious clog. In this case, your best bet is to call a professional plumber who can locate the source of the blockage and take care of it with specialized cleaning tools.

Professional plumbers are equipped with advanced plumbing tools to remove stubborn clogs from drains. Their experience also allows them to diagnose and fix any underlying plumbing problems that may be causing the blocked drain.

Remember that professional plumbers are typically more expensive than DIY home remedies, but they may be worth the cost if you’re dealing with a serious clog. Plus, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and leave major plumbing problems in the hands of an expert!


So there you have a few ways to unclog your bathtub drain without removing the stopper. None of these solutions are perfect, but they should help clear your drain in no time. If the clog is particularly stubborn, you may need to call a professional to help get the job done.

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