Burns Plumbing

How to Get Hair Out of a Drain: A Comprehensive Guide

Dealing with a hair-clogged drain is a common challenge in many households. Whether it’s in the shower drain, bathtub, or bathroom sink drain, the accumulation of hair can lead to stubborn clogs that disrupt water flow and require immediate attention. This comprehensive guide by Burns Plumbing offers practical solutions and preventive measures to keep your drains clear and functioning properly.

Recognising the Signs of a Hair-Clogged Drain

When a drain starts to slow down, it’s often a telltale sign that hair has begun to accumulate and form a blockage. Recognising these signs early on is essential for addressing the issue before it escalates into a full-blown clog, leading to more severe drainage problems. Here are some key indicators that suggest hair is starting to clog your drains, providing you with the opportunity to act swiftly and prevent further complications:
  • Slow Water Drainage: The most immediate sign of a hair-clogged drain is water draining more slowly than usual. This slowdown indicates that a clump of hair and potentially other debris are beginning to obstruct the flow of water down the drain, causing a blocked drain situation that worsens over time.
  • Visible Hair Accumulation: Frequently, you can spot strands of hair winding around the drain cover or lying at the top of the drain. This visual cue is a clear indication that hair is contributing to the blockage. Over time, this accumulation not only restricts water flow but can also trap other debris, exacerbating the clog.
  • Soap Scum Buildup: Along with hair, soap scum often contributes to drain blockages. Observing a sticky, scummy residue just inside the drain is a common sign that hair and soap have combined to form a stubborn clog. This combination is particularly prevalent in shower drain clogs and bathtub drains.
  • Foul Odours: A hair-clogged drain can emit unpleasant smells as the accumulated pet and human hair, along with other trapped organic matter, begins to decompose. If you detect persistent bad odours emanating from your drain, it’s likely that a significant amount of hair and debris has built up inside the drain pipe, leading to decay and a need for thorough cleaning.
  • Recurring Clogs: If you find yourself frequently dealing with a drain that seems to clog easily, hair is likely a contributing factor. Shower drains, bathtub drains, and even bathroom sink drains can become recurring trouble spots when hair consistently goes down the drain, leading to a cycle of blockages that suggests a deeper issue than occasional loose hair.
  • Water Backup: In severe cases, a hair-clogged drain can cause water to back up into the shower, tub, or sink. This happens when the blockage is so extensive that water cannot pass through the drain opening at all, indicating a significant clog made from hair, soap scum, and possibly other debris, requiring immediate action to remove the hair and clear the blockage.

Preventing Hair from Clogging Drains

Prevention is key when it comes to managing hair in your drains. Simple habits and tools can significantly reduce the likelihood of hair clogs:
  • Use a Drain Stopper or Hair Catcher: Installing a drain stopper or shower drain hair catcher can trap hair before it goes down your drain, making it easy to remove and dispose of hair properly.
  • Brush Your Hair Before Showering: Brushing your hair before getting in the shower or tub can remove loose hair that would otherwise go down the drain.
  • Regular Drain Cleaning: Incorporate regular drain cleaning into your maintenance routine. A simple mix of baking soda and vinegar poured down the drain followed by boiling water can help dissolve hair and soap scum buildup.
  • Professional Help for Persistent Problems: If your drain is still clogged after trying to remove the hair yourself, it might be time to call a professional plumber. Plumbers have access to tools like electric drain snakes and can offer long-term solutions to recurrent clogging issues.

Tools and Techniques to get Hair Clog Out of Shower Drains

Using a Drain Snake to Clear Clogs

A drain snake, also known as a plumbing snake, is an effective tool for removing hair clogs from shower drains, bathtub drains, and sink drains. To use, insert the snake into the drain until you feel resistance, which is likely the clump of hair causing the blockage. Crank the handle to entangle the hair around the snake’s coil and pull it out. This method can retrieve hair out of the drain that’s too far down for manual removal, making it a preferred choice for deeper clogs.

DIY Baking Soda and Vinegar Solution

Combining a cup of baking soda with vinegar creates a fizzy reaction that can help dislodge hair clogs in your drains. Pour the baking soda down the drain first, followed by an equal amount of vinegar. The reaction between these two substances can help break down the hair, making it easier to flush water down the drain and clear the clog. This method is safe for all types of drains and is an eco-friendly alternative to chemical drain cleaners.

The Hanger Technique

An ordinary wire hanger can be transformed into an effective tool for removing hair from a clogged drain. Straighten the hanger and create a small hook at one end. Insert it into the drain and fish around for the hair clump. Once you’ve hooked the hair, carefully pull it out. This method works well for clogs near the top of the drain and can be a quick fix for blocked bathroom sink drains and shower drains.

Employing Chemical Drain Cleaners to Dissolve Hair

For stubborn hair clogs that DIY methods can’t resolve, chemical drain cleaners can be a potent solution. However, it’s important to use these products sparingly, as they contain harsh chemicals that can damage your plumbing over time. Always choose a drain cleaner designed for hair clogs and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Pour the liquid drain cleaner down the drain, let it work for the specified time, then flush with hot water to clear the dissolved hair.

Installing a Hair Catcher

Preventing hair from going down the drain in the first place is the best way to avoid clogs. A hair catcher or drain stopper placed over the drain opening can trap hair before it enters your plumbing. These devices are particularly useful in showers and tub drains where long hair is frequently washed. Regularly cleaning the hair catcher will help maintain optimal water flow and prevent future hair clogs.

Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Bathtub Drains Hair-Free

  • Regular Use of Drain Protectors: Installing drain protectors in showers, tubs, and sink drains can catch hair before it goes down the drain. These protectors are easy to clean and highly effective at preventing hair from clogging your plumbing.
  • Frequent Cleaning of Drain Catchers: Make it a routine to clean out drain catchers regularly. Removing accumulated hair every week prevents build-up and keeps water flowing smoothly.
  • Boiling Water Flushes: Periodically pouring boiling water down the drain can help melt and dislodge any grease or soap scum that might trap hair. This simple step can prevent the formation of clogs made from hair and other debris.
  • Brushing Hair Before Showering or Bathing: Detangling and removing loose hair by brushing before entering the shower or bath can significantly reduce the amount of hair that ends up down the drain.
  • Minimise Chemical Use: While chemical drain cleaners can dissolve hair, they can also damage your pipes over time. Reserve these harsh chemical drain cleaners for severe clogs and opt for gentler methods when possible.
  • DIY Cleaning Solutions: Regularly use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar followed by hot water to naturally break down any potential clogs forming in your drain. This method is safe for most types of plumbing and environmentally friendly.
  • Professional Inspection: If you have recurrent issues with hair clogs, consider having a professional plumber inspect your drains. They can identify any underlying problems and recommend solutions to keep your drains clear.

Professional Drain Cleaning: When to Call a Plumber

There are times when DIY methods and over-the-counter solutions just aren’t enough to deal with a hair-clogged drain. If you’ve tried to dissolve hair, use a drain snake, or employ a hair removal tool and your drain is still clogged, it may be time to call a professional plumber like Burns Plumbing in Sydney. Professional drain cleaning services have the tools and expertise to effectively clear blocked drains, using techniques that are safe for your plumbing system.

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