The Story of the Stopped-Up Shower Drain

Earlier today, we showed my family the new house — more pictures coming soon! — and after they left, we stuck around to take some measurements and such in preparation for the work we need to do before moving in.

At some point, Joe decided it would be a good idea to try running the water in the bathtub, to make sure it would be suitable for taking showers and so forth. I admittedly thought this was a silly idea at first, since I was sure I remembered all of the faucets running fine during the home inspection. But to my surprise, running the water revealed a pretty big problem: the bathtub didn’t drain.

It wasn’t just that it was plugged a bit and drained slowly — it was completely stagnant, not draining at all. Since we need to be able to bathe pretty much immediately after moving in, we recognized that we needed to address this problem right away.

So Joe set to work bailing the water out of the bathtub while I ran out in search of some Drano — it was already after 10:00 pm, but as it happens 7 Eleven sells Liquid Plumber. We followed the instructions on the bottle, and… nothing. It seemed that whatever was clogging the drain must be pretty serious.

At this point, we decided to call it a night and head back to our apartment. We spent the ride discussing possible next steps and the logistics of getting a plumber in around our work schedules.

Then came an epiphany as Joe remembered the mysterious knob that we’d fiddled with briefly and then ignored. By now it was nearly midnight, and we’d almost driven the 14 miles back to our apartment, but we turned right around and headed back to the house, slapping ourselves in our foreheads the whole way there.

It turns out this thing controls an internal drain stopper.

Yep… turning that knob did the trick. The internal drain stopper opened right up and the bathtub drained as fast as any bathtub should. So we wasted three hours and a bottle of Liquid Plumber only to discover that everything was functioning exactly as it should the whole time.

Now in our defense, this knob is a bit loose and finicky, and doesn’t give the impression that it actually does anything — we may want to eventually replace it down the road. For that matter, the whole bathroom is a bit tired (the photo above shows where it’s in need of some caulking around the tub) so it wasn’t completely implausible that the drain had problems. But now I’m just making excuses.

The bottom line is that we failed at Bathtub Operation 101. And the worst part is, I fear this is just Episode 1 in an embarrassing new series entitled “Hapless New Homeowners Learn Simple Stuff The Hard Way.”


  1. Awww, no smacking foreheads! I’d never have guessed that was a valve shutoff, I’d have been beating the button looking thingy above it. Just be glad it didn’t take a plumber . . . or turn out to be a dead squirrel or something, LOL

  2. I’ve been in a lot of bathtubs in my day, but that’s the first one I ever heard of that had in internal drain! So don’t feel bad!

    BTW, putting up ceramic tile on the bathroom walls is not that hard. It’s definitely DIY.


  3. Oh, that’s okay! I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have known that, either. At least the problem is solved. We can’t wait to see the inside pics! Hugs!!!

  4. Thanks for the comments — I’m glad to hear we aren’t the only ones who would’ve been flummoxed by this particular drain setup. Although I shudder to think how embarrassing it would have been to actually call in a plumber over the situation!

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