How to Clear Clogged Shower Drain With a Drain Snake

Shower drains can easily be clogged with hair and other debris, but fortunately, they are among the easiest fixtures to clear using a drain snake. While a normal bathtub drain is 1 1/2 inches in diameter, a shower drain is often 2 inches in diameter, making it easier to insert a small drain snake into the drain and through the trap, where most clogs are found. With the right tool and instructions, a clogged shower drain can be cleared in no time.

Tools and Materials You Will Need

Using a drain snake requires very few tools.

  • Screwdriver
  • Drain snake with 1/4-inch or 5/16-inch cable

How to Snake a Clogged Shower Drain

  1. Remove the grate that covers the shower drain, which is usually held in place with mounting screws. Clean off any hair or debris that may be clinging to the grate.
  2. Run the cable on a small drain snake down into the drain opening until it meets resistance. Tighten the handle on the tool and rotate it slowly to spin the cable in the drain opening. The cable should begin to auger itself down further into the drain. Do not force it too vigorously or the cable may double back on itself.
  3. As the cable extends into the drain, loosen the handle to extend more cable into the drain opening. Retighten the cable and repeat the augering motion to force the cable further into the drain line. Rarely will you need to go more than a few feet, since most drain clogs will be located in the drain trap immediately below the drain opening. You may well be able to feel the cable when it encounters the clog; rotate the cable to penetrate the clog.
  4. When you feel the cable move past the clog, reverse the direction of the cable rotation and slowly extract the cable from the drain opening. You likely will see hair and debris entangled in the end of the cable as it emerges from the drain opening.
  1. Run water to test the drain before putting the shower grate back on. If the drain is still clogged, try running the snake cable further down the line.
  2. Once water flows freely through the drain, reattach the drain grate. Continue to run water for a few minutes to flush any remaining hair and debris.

Tips for Clearing Shower Drains

  • Check to make sure that it is only the shower drain that is clogged. If there are fixture drains beyond the shower are also clogged or running slowly, the likelihood is that you are dealing with a branch drain clog or even a main sewer line clog. These more serious clogs will require work with a larger drain snake from the main cleanout fitting.
  • Do not send the snake cable down through the shower grate. The grate may be difficult to get off, but unless you remove it, extracting the snake cable can be very difficult it is entangled with lots of hair and debris. Drain grates are usually fastened by screws, but sometimes they are just pushed in place and can be removed with a little careful prying.
  • Keep an eye on nearby drains. If there is another shower or tub on the other side of the plumbing wall, the end of the snake cable may come up through that drain as you feed it down the shower drain. Have a helper keep an eye on the other drain for you.