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Can Soap Scum Block Shower Drains?

Soap scum build-up is common in showers, but can it be bad enough to clog drains? Learn what causes soap scum and whether this simple product can cause damage and blockages to your shower drains!

Dealing with a blocked shower drain due to soap scum build-up and hair is a common plumbing issue that can happen in any home. Over time, the gradual accumulation of soap residue, body oils, and hair in shower drains can lead to clogged shower drains and standing water in your shower.

If you’re wondering, “Can soap scum block my shower drain?” the answer is yes. Read on to learn what causes soap scum and hair clogs, signs of a blocked drain, and how to unclog a shower drain yourself.

What Causes Clogged Shower Drains?

There are a few key culprits that cause blocked shower drains and soap scum build-up. Hard water contains high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium. When hard water mixes with soap, it creates a sticky, glue-like residue known as soap scum. Over time, soap scum residue accumulation can clog shower drains.

Scrubbing Soap

Many modern soaps have ingredients like sodium lauryl sulphate that bind to hard water mineral deposits, forming soap scum. As we shower, soap scum gradually builds up on drain pipe walls. Our bodies also shed thousands of dead skin cells daily. These mix with body oils and stick to soap scum on pipe walls, adding to the gradual shower drain blockage. And the hot, humid shower environment causes soap scum to soften and adhere. This facilitates the build-up process.

Additionally, hair is a common shower drain clogger. Showers collect stray hairs when we wash. Eventually, hair combines with soap scum to form a thick mass that can completely clog shower drains.

Signs of a Clogged Shower Drain

Several signs indicate a clogged drain:

  • Water pools around feet instead of draining
  • Slowly draining water post-showering
  • Gurgling noises from the drain
  • Partial clog worsens over time
  • Bad odour emanating from the drain
  • Hair catching in the drain cover
  • Multiple drain covers are needed weekly

A drainage blockage likely exists if you notice one or more of these red flags. Partial obstructions often degrade into complete clogging if not cleared in a timely manner as debris accumulates. Get ahead of intensifying shower issues by acting at the first signs of trouble. A quick fix now prevents expensive plumbing repairs later.

Unclogging a Blocked Shower Drain

Regular cleaning and hair catchers can prevent shower clogs. But for existing blockages, here are DIY unclogging methods:

Shower Drain Tiles

Drain Snake

A drain snake or auger removes hair and debris, clearing mild to moderate blockages. Boiling water flushed down pipes can dissolve accumulated soap scum and residue, helping clear minor clogs.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

Mixing 1 cup baking soda and 1 cup white vinegar creates a fizzing reaction that breaks up gunk when poured down blocked drains. A wire hanger or zip-it tool reaches down the drain to pull out trapped hair and debris.

A Plunger

Plunging the drain with a toilet plunger loosens the clog by applying suction. If you notice that your drain opening—also called a drain strainer, shower drain hair catcher, or drain cover—has screws, grab a screwdriver and remove it. Removing the shower drain cover and using long-nose pliers lets you pull out hair and debris caught behind it.

When to Call a Professional Plumber

Your best bet if DIY efforts don’t fully clear the clogged shower drain is to call a plumber. You should also speak to a professional if the shower has significant standing water pooling, water drains very slowly throughout the plumbing system, or there is a persistent foul odour from the shower or other drains.

A plumber has the proper snakes, augers, jetting equipment, and cameras to clear stubborn clogs. They can thoroughly inspect pipes and systems for damage or improper installation needing repair.

Preventing Clogged Shower Drains

Maintaining a clog-free shower drain is essential for your bathroom’s daily function and the plumbing system’s long-term health. Beyond the basic steps mentioned above, being mindful of what goes down your drain is crucial. Products that contain oils, waxes, and certain types of conditioners can contribute to clogs by solidifying within the plumbing. Opt for shower products labelled as “septic-safe” or “plumbing-friendly” to avoid these issues.

Shower Drain Tiles

Additionally, regularly inspecting and cleaning your shower drain stopper or strainer is a good idea. Hair and soap residue can accumulate on these fixtures, making them less effective. Simply unscrew or snap off the stopper according to the manufacturer’s instructions and use an old toothbrush to remove debris.

For those times when prevention isn’t enough, and you notice the water is draining slowly, consider a gentle mechanical approach before resorting to chemical drain cleaners, which can corrode pipes. A plunger designed explicitly for showers can help to dislodge minor clogs. For more stubborn blockages, a plumber’s snake or drain auger can be used to penetrate and clear the obstruction.

Remember, consistency and early intervention are key to preventing clogged shower drains. By incorporating these simple steps into your cleaning routine, you can keep your shower drain flowing freely and avoid the need for costly repairs. Regular vigilance is your best defence against the inconvenience of a clogged shower drain.

Stop Soap Scum from Bringing Your Shower Drain to a Halt

Take steps to prevent clogs before they happen. It’s up to you to choose the drain-clearing methods (pouring boiling water, homemade drain cleaners, etc.) that would work best for removing the shower drain clog in your home.

But be careful about using commercial drain cleaners, for they may cause more damage to your pipes. We are confident that following the steps in this guide will quickly clear the drain blockages.

But if you’re experiencing drainage issues, use the drain cleaning methods above or call a plumber for professional drain cleaning and repair services. Don’t ignore standing water or slow drainage! Contact us today to schedule an appointment to unclog stubborn shower drain blockages.

At Fixed Today, we have the experience and tools to clear any blocked drain. Our professional technicians can inspect your pipes and keep your water flowing freely. Shower drain clogs don’t have to be a headache - call us today and get your problem fixed!

Soap Scum Blockages FAQs

Soap Shower

Why does soap scum build up more in hard water?

As mentioned before, hard water contains a high amount of minerals like calcium and magnesium. These minerals bind with the ingredients in soaps and shampoos, forming the insoluble soap scum residue. Soft water doesn’t cause as much build-up.

Does liquid soap or bar soap cause worse soap scum?

Neither is necessarily worse. Both types contain surfactants that can leave a residue. However, liquid soap may rinse away more cleanly. Bar soap leaves more visible build-up on shower surfaces.

Can I use vinegar or baking soda to remove soap scum?

Yes, you can make an effective soap scum cleaner by mixing either vinegar or baking soda with hot water. Let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing and rinsing. The acids in vinegar dissolve mineral deposits while baking soda acts as a gentle abrasive.

How do I remove soap scum from glass shower doors?

Use a squeegee on glass shower doors after each use to prevent soap scum build-up. For existing scum, spray vinegar and scrub with a non-abrasive sponge. There are also glass-specific soap scum removers available. Avoid abrasive cleaners which can scratch the glass.

Should I clean my shower drain regularly?

Yes, it’s smart to clean shower drains regularly as part of a prevention strategy. Pouring baking soda and vinegar down the drain, followed by hot water, can help clear out accumulation. Use a drain snake monthly to remove any debris or build-up.

Can soap scum damage my bathroom surfaces?

If left for a long time, stubborn soap scum residues can damage surfaces like tile, vinyl, and fibreglass. The minerals in the scum can etch into the finish. Clean regularly to avoid permanent damage. On metal fixtures, it can cause corrosion over time as well.

Can professional plumbers remove soap scum build-up?

Yes, if home remedies do not work, it’s wise to call a professional plumber. They have specialised tools and expertise to safely and effectively clear your drains without damaging your plumbing.

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