Richard Trethewey diagnoses a shower drain clog
My shower drain was clogged from a buildup of mineral scale, and I paid $200 to have a pro come and ream it out. He suggested an occasional flush of the p-trap and the connecting PVC pipes with commercial drain cleaners, but I’m reluctant to use harsh toxic chemicals that might damage the pipes as they “eat away” the clog. Are there any alternatives that don’t
require hiring a pro?
—William Scott, Tallahassee, FL
I’m not aware of any drain cleaners that will harm PVC, yet I applaud your reluctance to pour toxic chemicals down the drain because of the harm they can cause plumbers as well as the environment. Perhaps an occasional dose of vinegar would be enough to keep the scale at bay. It’s inexpensive and safe.
But I’m not so sure that scale is the culprit here. PVC is such a slippery material, it’s hard to imagine how the buildup could be so severe. Maybe the pitch is too low—less than 1⁄4 inch per foot—and water isn’t flowing as fast as it should. Or maybe your water’s hardness is off the charts and a mineral residue coats your sinks, faucets, and toilets. If that’s the case, then the best solution would be a whole-house water softener, like the salt-free system made by .
Or maybe something else is affecting your drain. A thorough inspection with a camera inserted into the pipe just might find another cause for the clogging.