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Hopping into a hot and steamy shower only to notice that the water is pooling around your feet makes for a rough way to start the day. The problem? A clogged drain, typically caused by a backup of hair and soap scum that has been accumulating for some time. But before you call the plumber, check to see if you have the proper tools to handle the job yourself. You’d be surprised: These three easy solutions for fixing a stubborn (and nasty) clog are proof that you don’t always need a professional for this at-home fix-it job. All that’s required are the right tools (and good control of your gag reflex), and you’ll soon be able to enjoy your relaxing morning ritual once more.
This trick is perhaps the easiest one in the book: Fill your teakettle (or a large saucepan) with water, and bring it to a boil. Next, pour the water directly down the drain a little bit at a time, giving the hot liquid the chance to work its way through the clog in between each pour. The temperature of the water will help break up and dissolve the gunk that is blocking your drain. Attempt this only if your plumbing consists of metal pipes; don’t use boiling water if you have PVC pipes, as it could cause joints to loosen.
CLEAN AND CLEAR
This next solution is a nod to that elementary school science fair classic—the volcano project. That same foamy chemical reaction that fueled your papier-mâché mountain doubles as a powerful home cleaner. Mix 1/3 cup of baking soda with 1/3 cup of vinegar in a heat-resistant measuring cup. As soon as it starts to fizz (which will be immediately), pour the solution down your clogged drain. The chemical reaction will help break up the hair and grime that has caused the backup in your pipe. If you can, let it sit for at least one hour. Then, turn on the bathtub faucet and run hot water down the drain to help flush the mixture through the pipes.
For a really nasty clog, you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and snake the drain. It’s easier than you think (though every bit as disgusting as it sounds): Put on rubber gloves if you have them, then use a screwdriver to unscrew or pry off the shower drain cover. Once that’s removed, straighten out a wire coat hanger, retaining a tiny hook on the end. Feed the wire down the drain to fish out any hair, accumulated soap scum, or other debris that’s causing the clog. After you’ve pulled out all that you can, pour boiling water down the drain and replace the drain cover.