Shower Drain Cover is Loose

A loose shower drain cover is one of those things that really bothers some people; others really don’t care much about it.

Drain covers should be in place enough where they don’t slide all over the floor when you are using the shower. However, they need to be removable for the times when you need to snake the drain. Some older drain covers are held in place with screws. You find these types with customer mud pans. Modern plastic drain covers can just snap into place. If you need to remove them, you can just pop them off with a small standard screwdriver.

If you can’t figure out how your drain cover stays in place, you can always use a small bead of clear silicone caulking around the perimeter of the drain cover. Just a little bit on the underside will hold it in place until you need to remove it because of a clogged drain. If you need to remove it, pry it up (you may need to cut the caulking in between the cover and the drain recess it sits in.

By the way, you probably want to handle the drain cover as little as possible. When you do have to handle it, wear rubber gloves as drains are a breeding ground for germs.

How to Unclog a Smelly Drain

A clogged shower drain usually goes hand in hand with a bad smell. Drains have traps which keep the sewer gases from entering the living space, but that isn’t what normally causes the smell. People with long hair are plumber’s favorite people. The hair gets caught going down the drain and it combines with other hair, soap, and shampoo for a rat’s nest of foulness.

Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to pull the rat’s nest out of the drain.

This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Commonly you will find the clump of hair in the trap so you only need to get a foot or so past the drain cover.

Remove the drain cover and use rubber gloves (the drain has plenty of germs down there). You can use a snake if you choose, but before you go through the hassle, try using some simple tools first. I like a product called a “Zip-it”. It is a cheap strip of plastic about 18” long that has small barbs on it. The idea is to push the strip into the ball of hair and the barbs will catch the clump and allow you to pull it out. It works very well when the clump is at the trap. You can also finagle a coat hanger with a small hook on the end of it, but this only works well if the clog is between the trap and the floor. In other words, the plastic goes around corners much better that a metal coat hanger. As a last resort you can always go rent or buy a snake, but these quick and cheap fixes just might save the day. If unclogging a smelly drain isn’t on your to-do list, give us, Las Vegas Handyman, a call. We are experts in bathroom plumbing.

Strange Noises from Your Plumbing Pipes

We fix a lot of pipes at Las Vegas Handyman. Recently, I went over to a customer’s house to investigate a noise that the homeowner said was new. The gurgling noise was coming from a small bathroom downstairs that, when any other drain ran in the house, made a loud gurgling sound. The noise occurred when the toilet next to it was flushed or when any upstairs fixture was running. Since the noise was coming from the shower drain, that was an obvious place to start. The cause was also very obvious. The shower was rarely used and the trap had run dry.

It is common that when the trap has run dry, a sewer smell will enter the room but this isn’t always the case.

The sound though was very loud. I simply took a small bucket of water and poured it down the drain. The sound stopped since the water in the trap now acted as a buffer.

In speaking to the homeowner, that particular shower never gets used, which is why the water in the trap evaporated, creating a void where sewer gas and noise can enter the room. I’m sure I would have been called earlier had sewer gas smells entered the room, but apparently the noise got to be enough. The homeowner now knows to pour a little water down the drain if he hears noises or smells sewer gas.

Quick Way To Clear A Shower Drain

If you have experienced a slow shower drain, you know it can be frustrating. The good news is that in many cases, the cause of the blockage is located just below the drain around the trap. You usually don’t need a snake to reach the blockage if it is in this location.

You will need to remove the drain cover from the shower drain. If you have a plastic cover, the strainer should just pop off. If you have a metal cover, it usually is held in place with two screws.  The clog will be a mass of hair mixed with soap. Over time you will notice a foul smell as the hair degrades.

You can buy a “zip-it” tool to reach this area. This is nothing more than a long, thin piece of plastic with barbs on it. You stick the tool down the drain. On its way down, it pushes past the hair ball. It’s when you pull it out that the magic happens. The plastic barbs grab the hair ball and pull it out. It is easy but can be messy if you pull it out too fast. In a pinch, I suppose you could bend a metal coat hanger and put a little hook on the end of it to fish out the clump. I wouldn’t stick it past the trap though as you might not be able to get it out.