Shower and tub maintenance mainly consists of cleaning and preventing clogs. The surfaces of bathing spots are notoriously difficult to clean when neglected for long periods of time. This buildup is a result of minerals within hard water. In particular, calcium is the worst culprit. A water softener can reduce the burden by chemically treating incoming water, but this is not required and can be an expensive fix. The best short term solution is to regularly clean the surfaces to avoid heavy buildup.
Although this buildup is not harmful to your health, it does create problems with flow in shower heads and faucet aerators. Irregular flow from the shower head often indicates partial blockage. Luckily, there is an easy fix through regular maintenance that we will discuss below.
Drains are also susceptible to buildup from calcium, soap scum, hair, and other debris. Every homeowner has had to deal with a slow or fully stopped drain. A strainer that “catches” debris before it can make into the drain is a great cheap solution. Make sure to empty and clean the strainer after every use of the shower so the strainer itself does not become the problem.
Checking for Hard Water
Professionals will test hardness of the water through titration to check the levels of calcium and magnesium. A quick and easy check1 at home is as follows:
- Fill a 12 ounce plastic bottle half full with water from the faucet.
- Add 10 drops of dish soap to the bottle and shake vigorously.
- If foam and bubbles form easily, the water is soft and in good shape. The water is most likely hard If no bubbles appear and the only foam is a thin layer at the top of the water.
Maintenance and Fixes for the Shower, Tub and Drain
Uses these guidelines for preventing and cleaning buildup:
- Consider installing a water softener for if the water in your area is “very hard.”
- Don’t let water sit in the shower or tub. As water evaporates it leaves behind mineral deposits. Buy a small squeegee to clean water off the surfaces after every time you use the shower.
- Clean shower heads and faucet aerators with vinegar. Tie a plastic bag of vinegar over the shower head or faucet and let it soak over night. Remove the bag and clean with water.
- To clean buildup off of surfaces use a mixture of ½ a cup of vinegar (heated for 1-2 min), and ½ a cup of dish soap. Mix the two together in a spray bottle gently. Spray on the the surfaces and wait for 1-2 hours. Rinse the surfaces off with water and scrub off any remaining buildup.
Drain Clog Prevention
Use these guidelines for preventing shower and tub drain clogs:
- Use a strainer to prevent hair, soap scum and other debris from entering the drain.
- Dump 2 cups of vinegar down the drain every month to help clean the pipes.
- Remove the drain cover or strainer and use a needle nose pliers to pull out any hair that has accumulated.
If a drain in your home does become clogged, try these fixes (in order):
- Check the p-trap and push the clog through with a coat hanger.
- Use a plumbing snake to clear the clog. Dump 2 cups of vinegar down after clearing the clog to clear up any remaining debris.
- Try a homemade drain cleaner. Dump ½ a cup of baking soda into the drain and follow up with 2 cups of vinegar. It is best if you cover the opening while mixture fizzles. Flush the mixture through with half a gallon of boiling water.
- Buy a commercial drain cleaner.
- Call a plumber.
References: 1 – http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-You-Have-Hard-Water