Sewage backing up from the toilet and into your shower?
This is an issue that requires immediate fixing – and delaying the fix will only prolong the long-term damage not only to the property, but to the health of individuals around the affected area.
More often than not, it means that there’s a clog in the main sewer line through which all of the house’s plumbing drains into.
Meaning that, sooner or later, sinks and washers will also have sewage backing up from them as well.
If the sewage only backs up into the shower, this means that the clog is present in a shared drain pipe which is connected to both the toilet and the shower drains.
This is often referred to as a “local” clog, affecting only the shower.
Below, we’ll cover why sewage is coming out of your shower drain and onto your shower, along with the causes and what to do to fix this issue.
Here’s Why Sewage is Coming Out of Your Shower Drain
A toilet that functions correctly directs the wastewater into the sewer line, which then delivers this wastewater into the main sewer line (also called the sewer main).
If you notice sewage water backing up into the shower, this indicates that the sewer line is clogged.
This blockage causes the wastewater to immediately back up.
Because toilets sit higher it is sometimes difficult for this back up to occur there – meaning that the sewage goes straight to the lower points like a shower drain.
Here’s Why the Toilet is Backing up into Your Shower
Sometimes, after the sewage has reached the shower drain, it can also back up into your shower from the pressure.
If this happens, it means that the pressure of the sewage from the clogged sewer main has caused the sewage to not only back up through the shower drain but to also appear onto the shower floor itself.
Most Common Causes of The Backup & Clogged Sewer Lines
There are various reasons behind why a sewer line may be clogged – below are some of the most common causes of these sewer back ups.
Particularly relevant for trees with longer roots (these are often older trees too).
Oftentimes, as tree roots grow in search of water they end up intertwining with sewer lines and causing them to clog.
Build Up of Grease
The grease build up is the enemy of pipes and drains.
This is because, as the grease goes down a drain in the form of liquid it ends up solidifying.
This happens when the grease cools down and forms solids across the piping or sewer lines – also leading to clogging nightmares.
Build Up of Hair
Another reason behind sewage from the toilet into the shower is hair accumulating into the pipes that eventually causes a backup.
Always be sure to clean out any hair sitting inside sinks and drains, and avoid flushing it down the toilet.
The Disposal of Insoluble Products
Products like baby wipes (even those marketed as flushable), paper towels, and tampons can often be a threat to your sewer line if flushed down the toilet.
Such products are not meant to be flushed down the toilet as they will not breakdown – instead, throw them in the trash to avoid a clogged sewer line and your toilet backing up into your shower!
It’s only natural that plumbing pipes breakdown over a long period of time.
If this breakdown causes a leakage of things like dirt and debris, then they can build up inside the pipe and lead to a clog.
This is also relevant in older builds, where deteriorated pipes can lead to clogged drains, as they are easier to rupture – leading to backups.
In areas that often experience heavy rainfall, extra caution may be needed when it comes to potentially clogged pipes.
Large amounts of rain may eventually find their way into pipes by overloading them, leading to backups that may also be the cause of issues like a sewage backup into showers.
Blockage in a City’s Sanitary Mainline
Sometimes, the source of a sewer backup may not even begin at your home.
While rarely the case, if a city’s sanitary mainline develops a blockage, it can lead to sewage backup into your home.
Here, you will likely have time to deal with the issue before the sewage finds its way into backing up into your home.
First Steps If Your Toilet Backs Up into The Shower
1. Make Sure your Family is Safe
When it comes to actual poop/wastewater entering your shower, safety comes first.
E.Coli bacteria is the most common type of bacteria found in sewage, and can cause diseases like Salmonella and Hepatitis.
So, the first thing you need to do if you notice sewage backing up into your shower, is to evacuate the affected area immediately.
In particular, no elderly people, children, or even pets should be in or around.
2. Switch off Electricity in Case of a Large Overflowing Backup & Gather PPE
If it’s large backup that overflows onto the floor, The next thing to do is to switch off your electricity from the breaker (only if it’s safe to do so).
When attempting to clean the area, be sure to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment like gloves, face mask, etc. so that you don’t get into contact with any harmful sewage particles.
3. Ventilate The Area & Remove Items in Case of Large Backup
Next, be sure to properly ventilate the bathroom where the sewage backed up into the shower – open all windows.
Take away every item that hasn’t been contaminated yet – make sure they are dry first.
If you have homeowners insurance – Before approaching the cleanup of the shower and affected bathroom area, call your insurance company and inform them of the backup – also take pictures for their record.
How to Clean Your Shower After a Sewage Backup
Now onto the tricky part! A sewage cleanup is no fun – the idea itself of scooping sewage is a hassle and a health hazard.
Calling a professional to deal with the mess of sewage backup into a shower is the ideal scenario (especially if it’s a bigger mess).
However, if you do attempt to do the cleanup yourself, here are a few steps to follow that may help:
1. Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
As mentioned earlier, be sure to wear PPE – the health hazards associated with exposure to sewage are no joke.
Wear gloves, boots, protective eyewear, as well as a face mask.
And, if you have any open bruises, be sure to cover them up with a bandaid.
2. Isolate the Affected Area from Nearby Rooms
During the cleanup of the toilet sewage backup into your shower, make sure you close the bathroom door so that the sewage doesn’t potentially extend to nearby rooms.
It’s also key here that the bathroom window remains open!
3. Scoop up Sewage Using Tools like Buckets
Scoop up all visible signs of sewage right away using items that you can dispose of after the cleanup.
Things like buckets, an old shovel, or a plastic container may come in handy.
Be sure to have durable trash bags next to you, and also throw away any tool you’ve used after.
Any sewage water remains can be removed using a wet-dry vacuum if you have one.
4. Sanitize all Items
Collect all the items that have been in contact with the sewage, and sanitize them properly.
After you’ve sanitized them (more than once), leave them on a clean surface away from the affected area, until the issue has been completely fixed.
5. Properly Wash All Surfaces
All surfaces that’ve been nearby and in contact with the sewage backup from your shower, should be washed down aggressively with water and disinfectant.
Floors, walls, baseboards, should all be well-scrubbed and disinfected.
6. Let the Area Air-Dry
After you’ve properly cleaned and disinfected all surfaces and items, you want to let the area air-dry in order to avoid mold growth.
After all the water you’ve used for the clean up, make sure the area is well-ventilated to avoid mold growth and further damages to your property.
Sewage Backup In your Shower?
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Dealing with The Most Common Issues
Actual Poop in the Shower Drain
As previously mentioned, if poop suddenly appears in your shower – know that the toilet has been heavily clogged and is backing up through the shower drain and onto your shower.
Here, you need to deal with the shower clean up (and nearby affected areas), as well as to address this plumbing situation by calling a professional who’s best suited to treat your clogged toilet.
Toilet and Shower Clogged at the Same Time
If your toilet is clogged to the point where sewage backs up into your shower – then the issue needs fixing.
A clogged toilet is a sign that certain items were flushed down, that aren’t meant to be flushed down the toilet.
A toilet and a shower being clogged at the same time is also a cause for concern, where pressure builds up to the point of excreting poop out the shower drain.
Clogged Toilet that Overflows into Shower Drain
A toilet clogged long enough will eventually find sewage overflowing into the shower drain.
If this happens, follow the cleanup steps we listed above or call a plumbing professional to help with the situation (which is highly recommended in this case).
Washing Machine Water Backing Up into the Shower
If the water that’s draining out of the washing machine causes your toilet to back up into your shower, it’s likely an indication that the sewer drain is clogged.
If the toilet seems to flush just fine but there’s sewage backup in your shower, it likely means that the issue is associated with the washing machine and not the main drain.
In this scenario, it’s best to call a professional who will better diagnose the issue and fix it.
Toilet Leaks when the Shower Drains
If you notice that your toilet leaks/overflows during the time you’re shower is running, then it likely indicates that you have a clog between the toilet and the sewer.
As the shower water is running, it backs up into the waste water lines that are inside your house – and eventually overflows your toilet.
Clearing the clog would be a good place to start.
Basement Shower Drain Backing Up
If your basement shower drain backs up, it might be an indication that there’s too much water in the drain.
A clog in sewer lines is also a big possibility behind your basement shower drain backing up as well.
A possible damage to your sewer lines can also be the reason behind this.
It’s best that you seek professional help, as they’ll be able to best diagnose and fix the problem.
Septic Tank Backing up into Shower
If your septic tank is backing up into the shower, it probably means that it hasn’t been pumped out in a long time.
Gradually, these septic tanks fill up with solid waste, and when they do, you may experience sewage backups in places like toilets, tubs, drain, and showers.
It’s best to call a professional to assess the situation and fix the problem.
Preventing Toilet Backups in Your Shower
1. Clean Your Toilet Regularly
A regular cleanup of your toilet simply with vinegar and baking soda will come in handy as it causes you to be on the lookout for any potential plumbing issues.
Every time you deep-clean your bathroom, consider throwing in some vinegar and baking soda and flushing it down.
2. Avoid Using Chemical Drain Cleaners
If unclogging your toilet avoid using chemical drain cleaners to do so.
These products are loaded with harmful chemicals.
If inhaled for a prolonged period in an unventilated space, they tend to destroy older fixtures and pipes – so be wary of using chemical drain cleaners!
3. Run a Toilet Inspection Every Couple of Months
This is especially relevant if you live in an older house – you want to make sure your toilet is functioning effectively from time to time.
You can do this simply by: taking off the tank lid, flushing the toilet, and ensuring that the flapper is sealing well and the fill valve stops running at a specific water level.
4. Immediately Fix a Toilet Leak
The moment you see your toilet leak (usually a small one), whether on the floor or through the tank, you know there’s a plumbing issue that needs fixing.
5. Flush only Flushable Items
As mentioned before, oftentimes things like baby wipes, kitchen paper, tampons, etc. are relentlessly flushed down the toilet without second thought.
Not all items are created flushable!
So, if it’s anything other than pee, poop, or toilet paper, don’t flush it.
When to Call a Professional
Hiring a professional in case of sewage backing up into your shower is a recommended idea, particularly if the sewage consists of larger pieces and the mess seems overwhelming.
Also, if the backup happened and you left it longer than 24 hours sitting without addressing it – hire someone to deal with the mess.
The bacteria from the sewage here has probably been lingering long enough to pose a health hazard, making it risky to deal with the clean up yourself at this point.
When it comes to sewage-related backups, we recommend hiring a professional who will better diagnose and fix the problem. Not only will they perform a better job in doing so, but they’ll eliminate chances of it happening again.
Avoiding further damages to your property is key here, and sewage backups can lead to even bigger concerns like mold growth if left untreated effectively.
Professionals will be able to properly remove the sewage backup from your shower in a safe way, and will clean and sanitize the area all while dealing with the root cause of the issue and fixing it.
We have Water Damage Restoration Technicians that can help Find the Source Sewage Backup in your Shower, Deal with it & Repair any Sewage Damage Caused.
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