How To Plunge A Bathtub

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Learning what tool and how to use the tool will save you alot of money by not having to hire a plumber.

A bathtub works by the same principle of a lavatory drain, kitchen sink, and any other sink in your house. The only difference is the bathtub has an overflow drain pipe which in the case of unplugging the drain makes it some times easier to unplug and some times harder.

Lets start with the basic tool of plumbing. The mighty plunger is a standard tool for all plumbers and should be for every home owner. See picture.

Comparing the bathtub plunger with other plungers you can see why this would be the choice for bathtubs. See picture.

At the top of the picture is the sink and bathtub plunger, toilet plunger in the middle, and on the bottom is the lavatory plunger.

These tools are the easiest to use and the cheapest tools to have on hand when problems arise. You will save alot of money by owning these necessary tools for your home.

Take a look at how a bathtub assembly works and is installed and you will get a good idea of how easy it is to unplug your bathtub. Also remember that 90% of bathtub drains plugging up is caused by hair and soap suds.


Variety of drain assemblies for bathtubs.

What your seeing is a drain going horzontially and a vertical pipe for overflow. Human hair gets caught up in the overflow assembiles drian stopper. Many of the newer bathtubs have a overflow drain but the bathtub closes the drain at the bottom of the bathtub and there is no need for a stopper from the overflow. See pictures.

Here you see the overflow pipe and the stopper. The stopper is closed by hand and the overflow is only used to not allow the bathtub to overfow. See picture.

Overflow cover above.

Overflow cover removed showing a pipe only. No drain assembly required.

In this situation to unplug your bathtub drain you would place your plunger over the drain, push down slowly and pull up creating a suction to remove hair or soapy particles. Remove by hand.

If you have an overflow with the plunger assembly you would first try to use the plunger in the same way you would as if you don’t have a drain assembly with your overflow. If you cannot remove the hair or soapy particles you will have to remove the two bolts that hold the overflow assembly stopper. Carefully  remove the hair off the end of the stopper that you pulled out of the overflow drain. Put the drain stopper back in slowly and your back in business.

If you have an older bathtub and you have to remove pull out the overflow stopper I would make sure you have some money in your pocket and some extra time because the older the tub the more likely the overflow assembly is rusted and will break when you go to remove it. Or call your local plumber in this situation.

My new book called “Flush Your Plumbing Down The Toilet” available on It gives you information about a wide variety of tools, Green plumbing estimating plumbing hours and much more. Check it out if your interested.


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