How to clear clogged drain in new tile shower [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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12-12-2011, 01:35 PM
It's killing me to ask such a seemingly simple question, but here goes.

Our new house was built about 6 months ago, and the tile shower in the master bath has started to drain quite slowly, and even pooled up an inch or so in the last day. It's not a drain size issue (was built with 2.5" to flow out plenty, and it's been fine for 5 months), so the problem has got to be gunk and hair building up.

Last night I grabbed my clog clearing snake thing, and one of those "zip unclog" plastic strips, and unscrewed the two screws in the drain grate/cover piece. About then I realized...the drain grate is grouted in to be smooth with the tiles. While asthetically nice, and frankly I don't know how else it would be done, it seems absurd to never be able to clean out the drain (easily)! It seems quite reasonable that every 6 months or so, the shower drain would need a quick zip-strip thing to yank out the hair that builds up there. How the heck am I supposed to do this, with the drain cover grouted in place?? Dremeling out the grout, risking breaking tiles, trying to break the cover loose, and then having to re-grout the thing, all for a quick cleanout seems ridiculous.

Am I missing something here? What do you guys to with tile shower drains? I hate to just flood the thing with Draino. I can see the "hair rat" with a flashlight, and it's up high enough that the chemicals would likely just settle below it, and not "burn up" the clog. That, plus I have septic and I don't think it's great to throw Draino down there.

Sorry for such a basic issue, but it's got me pretty frustrated.

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12-12-2011, 01:38 PM
You should be able to remove the grate. Tap on it with a heavy screwdriver handle until you break the grout, then pop the grate out.

12-12-2011, 01:52 PM
Thanks Bob

Few questions:

- should the drain cover then lift out, or is it screwed on?
- will the grout likely just let loose around the drain and I can simply replace it when done, or does it crack the grout enough that I'll likely have to regrout around it?
- does any option like caulking around it make sense? I just can't picture what happens if water gets "around" the drain grate.


12-12-2011, 01:55 PM
The grate should lift out.

It was not meant to be grouted in, so clean off the grout from the grate and from around the drain fitting.

Water will find its way to the drain, either through the holes in the grate, or around the edge of the grate. Your shower should be waterproof with or without the grate. If it is not, you have bigger issues than a hairball.

12-12-2011, 02:34 PM
Some grates are screwed onto the drain, J. You should see'em though, unless we're talkin' about a lot of grout. Maybe you can post a photo?

Houston Remodeler
12-12-2011, 02:45 PM
I have a customer who travels for work. About once a month when he leaves for more globe trotting, he pours a cup or two of CLR into his shower drain to dissolve the accumulated limescale build up in order to prevent having to replace the ceiling drywall on the lower 2 floors again.

12-12-2011, 02:49 PM
CX, have you seen a grate that screws into the drain and is fastened by 2 screws?

12-12-2011, 02:55 PM
Paul, what's this CLR, and is it ok for septic?

12-12-2011, 03:06 PM
CLR ( a septic tank friendly mild acid solution for disolving lime and calcium deposits.

12-12-2011, 03:59 PM
Ah ok thanks. I'll keep an eye out for it. I'm pretty sure that my issue is hair, rather than minerals (fairly tame public water)...haven't seen scaling on anything yet.

12-12-2011, 11:38 PM
Have you tried a plunger?

Brad Denny
12-12-2011, 11:42 PM
Shop vac, but be sure to wear old clothes, goggles, and a clothes pin over your nose. :p

Houston Remodeler
12-12-2011, 11:50 PM
there are also wee beasties in a box which can be added to the drain lines to eat away at such buildups.

12-13-2011, 05:45 AM
Sorry for not replying sooner guys. A bit of percussive persuasion on the drain cap and it came off. No threads, just set in there. VERY minor damage to the surrounding grout, but if you guys say it's no huge deal that it is or isn't water tight around the drain, then I'm not concerned.

Anyway, problem solved. A NYC sized hair-rat was retrieved. I took a pic but didn't want to post it here for fear of causing anyone to vomit on their keyboard. The zip-strip got it, and the drain line snake got another golf-ball sized blob. Suffice it to say, that was the only viable solution (physical removal with the grate off). Shop vac or plunger wouldn't have gotten the clog to move or come out.

I also added a smaller-holed piece of wire mesh (way larger than screen door mesh, but smaller than the grate hole design) below the cap, when I replaced it. Hopefully that catches a bit more hair before it get down there. But now that the grate is loosened, no huge deal to clean it as normal.

Thanks all!

12-13-2011, 05:48 AM
J, does someone in your household need Rogaine? :D

12-13-2011, 05:58 AM
Lol. It's my wife's fault! Hence the rat being 2' long!

12-14-2011, 09:29 AM
I have longish hair and a husband who really hates hair in the drain. Since I went to all this work on a gorgeous shower I now care too. My answer is self-training (wife training in your case). I comb conditioner through my hair in the shower. This loosens anything that's going to loosen. Then I clean the hair off the comb and stick it on the corner of the bench. When I squeegee the shower, the hair blob goes in the trash. Voila, clogs prevented. :)