Are you tired of standing in a pool of water during your shower? Do you find yourself constantly using a plunger to unclog your shower drain? A slow shower drain can be frustrating and inconvenient, but the causes may surprise you. In this article, we will explore their unexpected causes and how to fix slow shower drains.

Common Causes of Slow Shower Drain

Before we dive into the unexpected causes, let's take a look at some of the more common culprits.

  • Soap Scum Buildup: Over time, soap scum can accumulate in your pipes and cause a blockage. This is especially true if you use bar soap, as it tends to leave behind more residue than liquid soap.
  • Hair Clogs: Hair is one of the most common causes of blocked drains. When you wash your hair, loose strands can get caught in the drain and form a clog over time.
  • Hard Water: Hard water can leave behind mineral deposits in your pipes, causing blockages.
  • Mineral Buildup: Even if you don't have hard water, mineral buildup can still occur in your pipes. This is especially true if you have old pipes or live in an area with particularly hard water.
  • Sewer Line Issues: Sometimes, the problem isn't with your shower drain at all. Issues with your sewer line can cause slow drainage throughout your home, including in the shower.

Unexpected Causes

slow shower drain Glendale, AZ

While the above causes are well-known, other unexpected culprits could be causing your slow shower drain. Let's take a look.

  • Biofilm: Biofilm is a slimy substance that can develop in your pipes over time. It's made up of bacteria, algae, and other microorganisms that can cause blockages and slow drainage.
  • Aging Pipes: Old pipes can develop cracks and leaks over time, which can cause water to leak out and slow drainage.
  • Incorrect Drain Slope: If your drain isn't sloped correctly, water can pool and cause slow drainage.
  • Incorrect Ventilation: Proper ventilation is important for any plumbing system. If your shower isn't properly ventilated, it can cause slow drainage and other issues.
  • Poor Installation: A poorly installed shower can cause issues with drainage. Incorrect placement of the drain or pipes that aren't connected properly can cause issues as well.

Tips for Preventing Slow Shower Drain

Preventing a slow shower drain can be as simple as taking a few preventative measures. Here are some tips to keep your shower drain flowing smoothly.

  • Regular Cleaning: Regular cleaning is one of the most effective ways to prevent a slow shower drain. As mentioned earlier, hair, soap scum, and other debris can accumulate in your drain over time, leading to clogs and slow drainage. To prevent this, it's essential to clean your shower drain regularly. You can use a plunger, drain snake, or even a homemade solution of baking soda and vinegar to clear any buildup in your drain.
  • Use a Drain Cover: Another way to prevent a slow shower drain is to use a drain cover. A drain cover is a simple device that fits over your drain and catches hair and other debris before it can go down the drain. This can help prevent clogs and slow drainage, and it's easy to remove and clean the cover when necessary.
  • Install a Water Softener: Hard water can be a major cause of slow shower drains. When hard water evaporates, it leaves behind mineral deposits that can accumulate in your pipes and cause clogs. Installing a water softener can help prevent this by removing the minerals from your water supply. This can not only help prevent slow shower drains, but it can also extend the life of your pipes and other plumbing fixtures.
  • Be Mindful of What Goes Down the Drain: Being mindful of what goes down your drain can also help prevent a slow shower drain. Avoid pouring grease, oils, and other liquids down the drain, as these can solidify and cause clogs. Additionally, try to limit the amount of hair and soap scum that goes down the drain by brushing your hair before showering and using soap-free body wash or soap bars.
  • Hair and Soap Scum Buildup: One of the most common reasons for a slow shower drain is the accumulation of hair and soap scum in the pipes. Hair and soap can quickly become tangled and clump together, causing a clog in the drain. Over time, the buildup can become significant enough to slow down the flow of water and eventually cause the drain to stop working altogether.
  • Hard Water: If you live in an area with hard water, mineral buildup in your shower drain can also be a cause of slow drainage. Hard water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, which can form deposits in your pipes over time. These deposits can accumulate and narrow the diameter of your pipes, leading to slower drainage.
  • Faulty Installation or Design: Sometimes, a slow shower drain is the result of a faulty installation or design. If the shower drain was not installed correctly or if the pipes are not the right size, water may not be able to flow through them at a sufficient rate. A drain that is too small or placed in the wrong location can also cause slow drainage.
  • Sewer Line Problems: In some cases, slow shower drainage may be caused by problems with the main sewer line. Issues like tree root infiltration, collapsed pipes, and sewer line clogs can all cause problems with drainage throughout your home. If you suspect a problem with your sewer line, it is best to call in a professional plumber to assess the situation and recommend the appropriate course of action.

How to Fix a Slow Shower Drain

Now that you know some of the common causes of slow shower drainage, let's look at how to fix the problem.

  • Remove the Hair and Soap Scum: To start, you'll want to remove any hair and soap scum buildup in the drain. You can use a drain snake or a plunger to remove any visible blockages. For more stubborn clogs, you may want to try a commercial drain cleaner or a homemade solution of baking soda and vinegar.
  • Clean the Drain and Pipes: Next, you'll want to clean the drain and pipes thoroughly. You can use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar or a commercial drain cleaner to clean the drain and pipes. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully, and never mix different types of drain cleaners.
  • Check for Hard Water Deposits: If you suspect hard water buildup, you can use a water softener or descaler to remove the deposits. These products work by neutralizing the minerals in the water and preventing them from building up in your pipes.
  • Call in a Professional Plumber: If you've tried these steps and your shower drain is still slow, it may be time to call in an expert plumber. A plumber can assess the situation and recommend the appropriate course of action. They may need to use specialized tools like a camera to inspect the pipes or a hydro jet to clear out any stubborn clogs.

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Trust Cactus Plumbing And Air for Proper Shower Drain Cleaning

Understanding the unexpected causes of slow shower drains is essential for maintaining a smooth and functional plumbing system. From hair buildup and soap scum to mineral deposits and foreign objects, our investigation has highlighted the importance of regular maintenance and proactive measures to prevent blockages and clogs. To keep your drains running smoothly and your plumbing system in top condition, we urge all Glendale, AZ residents to take action today. Schedule professional maintenance with Cactus Plumbing And Air. Let's work together to protect our environment and preserve the longevity of our plumbing systems.


Can I fix a slow shower drain myself?
For minor clogs, you can attempt some DIY methods like using a plunger or a drain snake. However, if the problem persists, it's best to seek professional shower drain services to ensure a thorough and long-lasting solution.

Are chemical drain cleaners safe to use for clearing slow drains?
Chemical drain cleaners may temporarily solve the issue, but they can be harsh on pipes and the environment. Additionally, they might not address the root cause of the problem. It's wiser to opt for safer and eco-friendly solutions provided by professionals.

How often should I schedule shower drain maintenance?
Regular maintenance can prevent slow shower drains. It's recommended to have a professional inspection and cleaning at least once a year or more frequently if you notice recurring issues.

What are some warning signs of a severe shower drain blockage?
Signs include standing water in the shower, gurgling sounds from the drain, foul odors, and water backing up in nearby fixtures. If you encounter any of these, it's essential to act promptly to avoid potential water damage.

Is it necessary to replace my shower drain if it's slow to drain water?
Not necessarily. Replacing the drain is often unnecessary for slow drains. Proper cleaning and maintenance can resolve the issue in most cases.