Our upstairs bath tub has been taking longer and longer to drain and my wife has finally tasked me to fix it.

Yesterday I literally emptied an entire bottle of Liquid Plumber down the drain (following all the directions of course - well, except the fact I used the whole bottle!) and still no difference.

So I borrowed my father-in-law's "snake" and went online to learn-up on how to snake a bathtub. I found two videos that were particularly helpful:

Both of these methods require an overflow drain to be present in the tub. In both videos, this overflow drain was located about 18" above the main drain. However, my bathtub looks like it's wired a little differently:

enter image description here

Instead of an overflow drain approximately 18" above the main drain, there is this mechanical lever that engages or deactivates the bath plug. Above that is the faucet, and above the faucet is the hot/cold/on/off control.

So I ask: given my setup, and given what I've learned from these two videos/methods, what's the best way for me to unclog my bathtub? Thanks in advance!

Edit: per @BMitch's suggestion, I checked around the perimeter of the "bath plug" and it appears that it is not sealed around a slot running along the very bottom. In other words, it appears that there is actually an opening there, starting around "4:00" position and extending to the "8:00" position...

  • 2
    Is the cap for the bath plug sealed all the way around, or is it open on the bottom?
    – BMitch
    Commented Sep 4, 2012 at 1:20
  • 1
    @BMitch - yes your suspicion was correct. Please see my edit regarding the opening I found on the bottom of the "plug" switch (whatever it's called). Does this mean it's a form of an overflow drain? Thanks again (+1)!
    – bfodder
    Commented Sep 4, 2012 at 2:21

2 Answers 2


Your tub has an overflow drain. You just have to find it. Remove the two screws next to the combination drain toggle & overflow plate. Now gently pull up to reveal the overflow hole and the drain plug:

enter image description here

Get out your snake (you've got a snake, right?) and thread it down the newly revealed hole. Also remove the single screw holding the drain screen. Use some sort of semi-flexible plastic rod to clean out the horizontal section of the drain (a suitable tool comes with some bottles of drain cleaner, else you can improvise).

Don't bother with drain cleaner -- it is not right for your situation.

  • Not to hijack the OP, but what about shower only stalls (not tub) which typically don't have overflows, how do you snake those? Directly down the drain?
    – David
    Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 23:53

The cover for the bath plug includes the overflow drain. The bottom has an opening that is your overflow drain. If you remove the cover of the over flow to snake it, exercise care not to drop any parts down either drain. And be gentle with the snake so that you don't damage the drain plug assembly.

If you use the plungers, remember that you're trying to pull the clog back up, not force it down. Therefore, give it a firm pull up, and an easy push back down.

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