By Gene and Katie Hamilton
About three-fourths of all drain problems occur in the sink, tub and shower lines. And you can be assured of one thing: if there's going to be a clogged drain at your house, it will happen before an important event or when you're in a hurry. That's why everyone should know how to unclog a drain so you're prepared to handle it. It'll cost you about $28 for a plunger, chemical drain opener and a hand auger. You also need a pot of hot water, a screwdriver, some wire and a pair of pliers.
Try any and all of these tactics. If there's a grate over the drain opening or a plunger that closes the drain inside it, remove them. Make a hook at the end of some wire and poke it to dislodge the clog. Try pouring hot water down the drain, followed by using a plunger. If the plunger you’re using won’t stick to the tub, wipe petroleum jelly all around its rim. Sometimes that helps to stick it to the tub surface so you can create a tight seal and pump it. Or use a chemical drain opener according to the directions. For a tub, you may have to remove the drain assembly by unscrewing the coverplate and screwing the cable of an auger into the drain to remove a clog.
Still no luck? Call a plumber or drain cleaning service who will charge about $110 to do the job.
The bottom line: compare the price of a contractor’s bid to unclog a tub drain with what it costs to do it yourself and make your decision. You adjust the cost to where you live by adding your ZIP Code.
Cost updated 2014