How to Snake a Shower Drain [7 Steps for Any Clog]

Snake your shower drain by first selecting a high-quality wire drain snake. Then, remove the cover over your drain. Feed the snake carefully into the drain until it meets resistance. Once your snake has bumped up against the clog, rotate the handle on the snake’s drum clockwise to snag the clog. With the clog snagged on the snake, rotate the handle counterclockwise to extract the snake from the drain. All that’s left is to clean the clog debris off the snake and test your shower to make sure that it drains properly.

How to snake a shower drain

Can Snaking a Drain Make it Worse?

If used improperly, snaking a drain can make a clog worse. So, you should always take caution when unclogging a bathtub drain. In some cases, a wire drain snake can damage your pipes and invite rust that destroys your plumbing. In rare cases, the coiled wire of a drain auger can cause injury as you attempt to unclog your drain.

  • Improper use of a drain snake can sometimes make a clog worse.
  • Wire drain snakes can sometimes scratch coated pipes, which can cause rust to form.
  • To avoid pipe damage and injury, first, try snaking your drain with this inexpensive plastic snake.

Because there are risks to snaking a drain, it is important to exercise caution when working to unclog your drain. If you are worried about the risk of damaging your pipes, begin by attempting to clear the clog with a plastic drain snake. Plastic snakes are unlikely to damage plumbing and can often clear clogged drains quickly.

7 Steps to Snake a Clogged Shower Drain

A clogged drain can become even harder to unclog if the problem is not dealt with quickly. If your shower is clogged or slow to drain, put on a pair of rubber gloves. Then, take these steps to clear the clog:

Choose Your Drain Snake

A wire drain auger is the best tool to unclog a shower drain. A 25-foot drain auger is long enough to reach even the deepest clogs and remove them. Choose a wire drain snake for tough clogs. You’ll be able to clear your shower quickly.

  • Use this wire drain auger to snake your clogged shower drain.
  • Wire drain augers are more durable and capable of clearing tougher clogs than plastic drain snakes.
  • When clearing a clog deep in your pipes, a long drain snake is a must.

Most shower clogs occur in the trap, just below the shower drain. This may cause you to consider using a plastic drain snake. They can solve simple clogs, but can’t handle tough plumbing backups. Wire drain augers are much more durable than plastic, so you don’t have to worry about the snake breaking and making your clog worse.

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Remove the Drain Stopper

Begin by removing the shower drain cover or drain stopper so you can access the drain. For grate-style drain covers, remove the screws holding the drain cover in place. Then, remove the cover.

  • Remove the drain grate or stopper so you can feed your snake into the clogged shower drain.
  • Unscrew the screws surrounding a drain cover to remove it.
  • Remove the top knob of a lift-and-turn drain stopper to make removal simple.

If you have a lift-and-turn style stopper, unscrew the top knob by turning it counterclockwise. Then, lift off the top of the stopper. Sometimes, removing the top knob will reveal a slotted bolt under the knob. Insert a flathead screwdriver into the slot at the top of the bolt and unscrew it. This will remove the entire stopper assembly.

Feed the Snake into the Drain

Begin unclogging your drain by feeding your snake into the drain until it encounters the clog. If you are using a wire drum-style auger, you may need to pull a release trigger and turn the handle on the drum to feed the snake into the drain.

  • Pull the release trigger on your drain snake and slowly feed the wire into the drain.
  • Carefully maneuver the snake so it fits through any bends in your plumbing.
  • Once you encounter resistance you can’t feed the snake past, you’ve found the drain clog.

There is no need to push or pull the snake cable itself. Slowly feed the snake into the drain until it encounters resistance—this is when it’s hit the clog. Many augers are self-feeding, which makes this step very easy.

Rotate the Snake Handle Clockwise

After your snake has been fed into the drain and encountered the clog, turn the handle on the auger drum to the right (clockwise) to turn the cable and snag the clog. Once you feel the resistance give way, turn the handle of the snake in one more complete circle before moving to the next step.

  • Turn the handle on the drain snake drum clockwise (to the right) until you feel the resistance lessen.
  • After the resistance lessens, turn the handle in one more clockwise circle.
  • If the resistance does not lessen as you try to clear the drain, the clog may be too much for the snake to clear.
  • Turn the handle counterclockwise (to the left) to remove wire tension if the snake cannot clear the clog.
  • Contact a licensed plumber to help clear shower drain clogs that are too tough for a wire drain auger.

If you do not feel resistance give way when you are trying to clear a clog, reverse the handle before removing the snake from the drain. Continuing to turn a drain snake to higher and higher tension can cause the wire to bend, break, or come twisting out of the drain. A high-tension wire pulled from a drain can whip around and cause injury, so make sure the cable is tension free whenever you remove it from the drain.

Back the Snake out of the Drain

Once you’ve gotten past the clog, reverse the snake out of the drain. Do this by turning the handle on the auger drum to the left (counterclockwise) as you slowly pull the snake from the drain. This lessens tension on the wire and makes backing the snake out easy.

  • Squeeze the trigger of your drain auger and turn the handle counterclockwise (to the left) to back the snake out of the drain.
  • Do not pull on the snake as you do this.
  • Be prepared to see the source of the clog snagged at the end of your snake.

Work carefully as you back the snake out through bends in your pipes. Avoid using any force such as pulling or yanking the drain snake. It should come out smoothly and easily. However, there will likely be a nasty clog of debris snagged at the end of the snake.

Clean Your Drain Snake

After you remove the clog with your drain snake, disentangle the debris from the end of the snake and throw it away. If you like, repeat the steps above to use the snake a second time. This can grab some more debris from your drain.

  • Remove all the clog debris from your drain snake.
  • Rotate the handle clockwise to extend the cable.
  • Clean all dirty portions of the cable with soap and hot water.
  • Allow the cable to dry.
  • Rotate the handle counterclockwise to store the cable in the drum.

Once you’re done using your drain snake, remove all the debris tangled in the wire. Then, rotate the handle to fully extend the cable. Wash the snake with hot water and soap. Allow the snake to dry before coiling up the cable for storage. This will prevent rust and corrosion from forming on the wire cable.

Run Hot Water Down the Drain

After clearing the clog from your drain, run hot water from your showerhead or tub faucet for 60 seconds. Observe the drain to make sure it is draining quickly and completely. If there is no sign of water filling the bottom of your shower, the drain is clear and your job is complete.

  • Run your shower or tub for 60 seconds to test if the drain clears.
  • If the water drains normally, your shower is ready for use.
  • If the clog persists, hire a licensed plumber to help resolve the issue.

If your shower still does not drain after snaking—or if the clog is too tough to remove—contact a professional plumber. They can use powerful tools and techniques to unclog your drain without causing damage to your plumbing.

How Do You Snake a Shower Drain with a Plastic Snake?

To use a plastic snake to clear stubborn clogs in your shower, begin by removing the shower drain cover. Then, feed the plastic snake into the drain as deeply as it will go. Next, rotate the plastic snake in 4–5 circles to snag hair, soap scum, and other debris. Pull out the snake, remove the debris, and repeat 2–3 times, until the snake comes out clean.

  • Remove the drain cover or stopper.
  • Feed your plastic drain snake into the clogged shower or tub drain.
  • Using the ring at the top of the snake, rotate the snake in 4–5 complete circles.
  • Pull the snake out of the drain and remove any debris.
  • Insert, rotate, and remove the drain snake 2–3 times to fully remove all the hair clogs.
  • If the plastic drain snake does not rotate smoothly, remove the snake and use a wire drain auger for the job.

It is essential to exercise caution when using a plastic drain snake. Do not continue to rotate the handle at the top of the snake if the plastic is twisting and refusing to turn. Twisting a stuck drain snake can break it, which will worsen the clog. If the plastic snake can’t rotate and grab the clog, you need to use a sturdier drain snake.

How Do You Snake a Shower Drain Yourself?

In order to clear a clogged shower drain, you should:

  • Use a drum-style wire drain snake.
  • Remove the drain stopper or cover.
  • Feed the snake into your drain and around the plumbing bends until it encounters resistance.
  • Squeeze the trigger on the auger and rotate the handle clockwise until the snake passes through the resistance—this signifies the clog has been snagged and cleared.
  • While squeezing the trigger of the auger, rotate the handle counterclockwise to carefully extract the snake from the drain.
  • Remove the debris clog from the end of your snake and throw it away.
  • Run your shower for 60 seconds to make sure it is draining.

This system works great for all types of shower and bathtub drains. It can also be used to clear clogged sinks that no other method will fix.

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