Signs a bathroom drain needs repair include slow-draining fixtures, water backing up in the shower, bubbles in the toilet and gurgling sounds from a fixture. Before calling a plumber, it is sometimes possible to clear drains using a plunger. Using a plunger requires filling the fixture partway, plugging the overflow hole with a rag and moving the plunger in an up-and-down motion to clear the clog.
Bathtub and shower drains often move slowly due to a buildup of hair and soap scum. Removing this type of clog requires removing the drain screen or plug and using a stiff bent wire to hook the hair. Complete removal takes several attempts.
If several fixtures are malfunctioning at the same time, the clog is likely in the main line. In such cases, the best option is to call for professional help. Plumbers access the line through a cleanout opening outside the home and use a power snake to remove the clog so the fixtures work correctly again.
In a home with a septic system, malfunctioning drains can indicate problems with the septic tank. Conventional septic tanks require routine maintenance every three to five years. Without pumping, the solids in the tank build to the level that they interfere with drains. This condition has the potential of ruining the leach field.