How To Unclog An RV Shower Drain
RVs with showers are great! You can stay clean and fresh no matter where you are or how long you’ve been away. However, every drain in an RV can become clogged under the wrong circumstances. That’s why it’s good for every owner to know how to unclog an RV shower drain.
If your drain isn’t letting water through, or if there is a nasty smell, that’s a sign it’s time for action. There are lots of solutions ranging from store-bought chemicals to DIY cleaners to physical tools that are designed to remove blockages.
We’ll cover all of these methods below so you’ll have plenty of options next time your shower drain starts acting up. Let’s get started!
How to unclog an RV shower drain
When you’re dealing with a shower drain clog, the culprit is probably a mixture of hair, soap scum, and any other dirt/sand/debris that accumulates due to a life on the road. If you’re lucky, the drain will be able to stay clear on its own and will only need to be cleaned occasionally.
However, once the water starts rising and refuses to drain quickly, it’s time to prepare for some drain cleaning! There are several different tactics you can use to tackle this problem. Physical tools are often the most effective because many clogs are too solid to be broken down by chemicals alone.
Before using any of the methods listed below, remove any exterior covers for your drain. It’s much easier to use tools or pour things down when there is a clear opening.
Plunger: You can always use a hand plunger if you’re got a clog in the shower drain. Plungers aren’t just for toilets, although you may want to have a separate plunger for each purpose. This tool will help you dislodge the blockage and pull it to the surface.
Plumber’s snake: A plumber’s snake, also known as an auger, is a tool that was specifically designed for removing drain clogs. It’s essentially a long wire that is threaded through the plumbing. As you crank it through the drain, the auger pushed against the blockage and forces it down the drain into the holding tank. This is a great solution for very stubborn clogs!
Check flush valves: If nothing else is working, you may need to check your RV flush valves. Even if the clog has been broken up, it can have a hard time making it into the holding tanks if the flush vales are out of commission. If the valves are dirty or blocked, you’ll need to clean them.
Hot water: If you need to know how to unclog an RV shower drain, hot water is a great place to start. Sometimes it just needs to be loosened up. If soap scum is a major component of the clog, hot water can help dissolve this and push it down the pipe. Boil at least 1 gallon of water to start, then add more if necessary.
Dish soap/laundry detergent: If water alone can’t fix the issue, you can also add a gentle soap to it. Dawn dish soap and laundry detergent are great additives that can cut through grease and soften up clogs. Add at least 1/2 cup of your chosen soap to the hot water and pour it down the drain.
Vinegar and baking soda
Vinegar and baking soda are another great combo that can dissolve and soften blockages in your shower drain. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, then follow it up with 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Let this combo sit for at least 1 hour, then pour hot water down the drain to rinse everything down.
Ice: Ice is an old standby for many RVers who want to know how to unclog an RV shower drain. It may not be the most effective method on this list, but it’s been known to work well enough under some circumstances.
If you want to use this method, pour ice down the clogged drain (pebble ice is better for this purpose), then drive the RV around for a bit to build up friction. This friction supposedly breaks up the clog and melts the ice, prompting everything to move into the holding tank. Other tactics are more reliable, but you can give this method a try if you have ice on hand.
Best Drain Cleaners
If you want to know how to unclog an RV shower drain, you should keep a chemical drain cleaner on hand. These can be used in your kitchen or bathroom sinks as well as in some toilets. No matter what kind of blockage you’re dealing with, a good drain cleaner can help.
There are lots of great options on the market, but some of the best include:
- Drainbo Drain Treatment and Cleaner
- Green Gobbler Enzyme Drain Cleaner
- Instant Power 1907 Slow Drain Build Up Remover
Some of these will work quickly, while others need to sit for a while. Make sure to read the specific directions for each product so you use the appropriate amount for the problem. It’s also important to remember that harsh cleaners like bleach or Drano will do more harm than good, so stay away from them when dealing with a clog.
How to prevent clogs
Use a hair catcher
As we mentioned above, hair is one of the main things that leads to clogs in an RV shower drain. This can build up even quicker if you have passengers with particularly long or thick hair. To prevent hair-based clogs from forming, you can use a hair catcher above the drain opening.
There are store-bought products you can use like these silicone hair traps. If you’d like, you can also make your own out of a nylon sock. You just need to stretch the nylon sock over the opening (or let it hang down inside) and fasten the edges to the drain.
Try to empty this cover after every use so that it doesn’t become too full or stretched out.
Regularly clean showers and drains
You can also prevent clogs from forming (or at least slow the process) by regularly cleaning your shower and drain. Soap scum is another culprit of this problem, so keeping the shower nice and clean will reduce the amount of soap residue that’s left behind.
You can also pour a bit of cleaner down the drain every few weeks as a preventative measure. Some chemical cleaners won’t work against serious clogs, but using a bit at a time can help keep the plumbing clear. This is also a simple fix that doesn’t require much effort!
Now you have a few tips and tricks up your sleeve to help you know how to unclog an RV shower drain.
Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance from RV LIFE. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.