clogged shower drain -- poss. shaving cream. drano?

girlsmom4September 16, 2007

Our 1 year old shower drain is clogging up (water is draining much slower than it used to). DH uses shaving cream every day in the shower. Now we're noticing a 1/2" thick chalky-like build-up in the drain pipe and we're thinking it might be the shaving cream. Can/should we use drano/liquid plumber to clear it? I've heard that they might damage the pipes (pvc) and I obviously don't want to do that. Also, out shower is marble and I'm worried about the chemicals etching the marble. Would that be a problem?

Any advice?

Also -- if it isn't the shaving cream that's doing it, what else could it be?

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busboy

Dont know what is causing it but what I used to clean it was a toilet brush...take a new brush and snip the end to make a long flexible brush that will slip down and through the trap. What comes out is not pretty.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 9:23AM
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davidandkasie

i have to clean ours out every few months. my wife has long hair and i swear i can make a wig out of what comes out of the drain every 6 months!

shaving cream breaks down in water, he would just about have to discharge the can in the drain then leave it that way for a while in order for it to cause a clog by itself. most likely there is a hair clog and the shaving cream is just sticking to that giving you the chalky residue. if he shaves first, then rinses off, it pretty much guarantees that the shaving cream has been washed away by the draining water.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 10:47AM
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jake2007

I don't know what is in shaving cream, but I think it's closer to plastic foam than soap. Mixed with beard stubble (making some assumptions here...), it's nasty stuff and will clog a drain.

The best solution can be an easy one that is often overlooked... Use a plunger on the drain every so often when it gets slow. No chemicals to hurt the finish and it will move a lot of that stuff right along. Keep a sink plunger handy for that purpose only (avoid the ick factor, don't have it do double duty with the toilet)

Give DH the job.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 2:15PM
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rogerv_gw

Second the vote on using a plunger occasionally rather than chemicals. I use one on our tub drain when it gets slow, always fixes it. Much better than dealing with drain cleaning chemicals.

Another simple tool that I find helpful is called "ZipIt" or something close to that. It is pushed down the drain and then pulled back up, and usually will snag a bunch of gross stuff if it hasn't been used for a while.

-Roger

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 4:26PM
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kitchensusie

Don't know about the effects on marble, but I just want to let you know that Liquid-Plumr and Drano (the liquid kind that is most commonly available) are just bleach. Regular Liquid-Plumr and Regular Drano are the same as Clorox/Store Brand bleach and Professional Strength Liquid-Plumr (and basically the super strong liquid Drano products) are the same as Clorox Splashless bleach.

I don't think the bleach would really hurt your PVC; I don't know about the effects on marble and any metal parts, though. I do know for certain, however, that these products are bleach. Bleach breaks down hair -- that's how those products work. If you decide to go that route, save yourself a lot of money and buy store brand bleach or Clorox Splashless Bleach (Liquid-Plumr is also made by Clorox).

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 10:21PM
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girlsmom4

Jake 2007 -- your assumptions are right -- it is shaving cream mixed with beard stubble. And the problem is (I think), the shaving cream has created a build-up on the inside of the pvc pipe -- so plunging (and even drano et al) -- won't do the trick. We haven't tried snaking it yet -- that will be the next step -- but I'm concerned about the build-up on the inside of a pipe. Looks like a clogged artery!!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 4:35PM
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davidandkasie

in your husband's defense, how many women/girls shave their legs in this same shower? THAT puts a lot more shaving cream/stubble down the drain. and long hairs will form a clog in the goo.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 5:45PM
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girlsmom4

davidandkasie -- my dh appreciates your defense, but the reality is that he's the only one shaving in that shower!!! Waxing is the name of the game for the women in our house. I'm sure that's waaay TMI, but you asked!! :-)

Again -- I'm concerned about the 1/2" thick build-up on the inside of the drain pipe -- so less about a clog due to hair and more about a thickening of the artery.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 7:10AM
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bus_driver

"* Posted by kitchensusie (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 18, 07 at 22:21

Don't know about the effects on marble, but I just want to let you know that Liquid-Plumr and Drano (the liquid kind that is most commonly available) are just bleach. Regular Liquid-Plumr and Regular Drano are the same as Clorox/Store Brand bleach and Professional Strength Liquid-Plumr (and basically the super strong liquid Drano products) are the same as Clorox Splashless bleach."
These statements by kitchensusie are absolutely false and dangerous. The drain cleaners are sodium hydroxide. The bleach is sodium hypochlorite. Be sure to follow every precaution on the label of any of these products. I do not know if the post originated from gross ignorance or from malice. Either is inexcusable. Shame on you, kitchensusie.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sodium hydroxide

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 8:05AM
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jake2007

"Shame on you, kitchensusie."

Take it easy, she wasn't completely wrong, Liquid Plumbr contains both chemicals.

The thing is that both are pretty harsh. Just because we are used to using bleach, doesn't mean that it isn't going to cause problems with the finish on the fixtures and such. Chlorine is a strong oxidizer and will cause metal to rust and discolor other finishes.

Just a couple of other things I can think of, besides the plunger:

1. Try changing brands of shaving cream. Really, I think a big part of the problem is the formulation of this stuff. It's not really soap at all.

2. Mix a bucket of very hot water and dish soap (Dawn or Palmolive)and dump it down the drain about once a week. See if that doesn't help to remove the gunk. I would have recommended powdered Automatic Dishwasher detergent but it may discolor the marble.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 9:13AM
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bus_driver

Reflexive discounting can be dangerous too. Bleach is harsh. Sodium hydroxide is easily deadly.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 10:20AM
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bus_driver

I have not confirmed the inclusion in Liquid Plumbr of chlorine bleach, but for the moment will stipulate that it is there. So what? Gator Ade and battery acid are both mostly water, but that does not make them equivalent. And of all the drain clearing products sold at retail to consumers, Liquid Plumbr is the least effective.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 11:37AM
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jake2007

Liquid-Plumr is a chemical drain opener produced by the Clorox Corporation. It consists of 0.5-2.0% sodium hydroxide and 5-10% sodium hypochlorite, plus a surfactant.

My point here isn't to debate about the ingredients in Liquid Plumbr. If the OP is concerned about her marble shower floor or the drain cover, she may want to avoid either Liquid Plumbr or undiluted chlorine bleach.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 3:01PM
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bus_driver

My point is that the post taken literally would mean the adding Liquid Plumbr to the clothes washer would be perfectly OK. That would be the logical- and tragically wrong- conclusion that could be drawn from the post. Epitaph: Here lie the bones of Marvin Gore, poor Marvin is nor more. What he thought was H2O, was H2SO4".
I do not know what would be the effects of sodium hydroxide on marble, never tested it. Likely to be minimal, perhaps none. Sodium hydroxide is a strong base, calcium carbonate is a weak base. But I would not use any chemicals on decorative marble.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 3:28PM
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jean222

I agree that shaving cream may very well be the problem. That was happening to my bathroom sink where three men were shaving. My solution was to sprinkle about a quarter cup of baking soda in the drain then follow it with a cup of white vinegar. After the bubbling stopped I would flush the drain with hot water and plunge if it was still running slowly. The pre-treatment seemed to be much more effective than plunging alone and it was a cheap, non-corrosive method of dealing with the problem.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 9:16PM
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richk2010

I'm having the same problem as the original poster. The white build up is calcium. It can be removed with CLR, but it just comes back. if girlsmom4 could contact me it would be great. Wondering if you were using products from "the art of shaving" my email is rich kline at gmail

Thanks,

Rich

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 1:24PM
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