Toilet Backing Up into Tub -Causes, How to Fix & Cleanup

It is many homeowners’ worst nightmare to see their toilet water flush down and come right back up from their bathtub drain.

This can be a messy inconvenience at best, and may make your entire home smell awful.If left unchecked, it can cause costly water damage to your home.

Even worse, it can contaminate your home with viruses, bacteria, and pathogens that can be lethal.

Handling this issue yourself will require discretion, determination, and dedication.

Why is Sewage From The Toilet Backing Up Into My Bathtub?

The toilet is backing up in your bathtub because there is a clog somewhere in your sewer & Drain pipes.

The most common clog (Local Clog) is when the shared drain pipe that’s connected to both the tub drains and toilet becomes blocked.

This blockage in your bathtub drain pipes can be caused by:

  • Hair clots
  • Limescale deposits from “hard water” caused by high calcium/magnesium content
  • Lipids like fats, oils, and greases that pour down drains as liquids but solidify in the cool pipes
  • Foreign objects like children’s toys, tampons, or wet wipes (even “flushable” ones)
  • Tree roots that pierce or constrict your pipes

Sewer Main Clog

The main sewer line is where all wastewater from your house’s toilets and drains goes, and is connected to either city sewage systems or septic tanks.

The same things that can cause a Local Clog can cause a Sewer Main Clog, with the addition of tree roots,which can pierce or constrict the pipes and block them.

5 Most Common Warning Signs

  • Water backing up one or more drains every toilet flush
  • Occasional gurgling or bubbling sounds from toilet or bathtub drains
  • Multiple drains in house simultaneously backing up (sinks, tubs, and toilets)
  • Toilets cease working or even overflow
  • Slowly draining wastewater in your bathtub or toilet.

What To Do When The Toilet Backs Up Into The Tub

First Things First: Stop Using Water

Stop flushing toilets or pouring water down the tub drain to stop toilet backing up into your bathtub, and wait 10-20 mins to see if the backed up wastewater goes back down the drain.

This only works if the clog isn’t completely blocking your pipes, but it reduces your chances of being splashed when you try to fix it.

Second, But Critical: Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Rubber gloves, face mask or face shield, and an old smock or coveralls are ideal in case you are splashed.
Wastewater  from toilet backups carries viruses and bacteria that can make you and your family incredibly ill.

You must use PPE to protect yourself and your home, and when you are finished, dispose of them or wash them immediately.

Wash your hands as well.

Last But Not Least: The Fixes For Unclogging

Local Clog: Toilet Method

Plunging the toilet first is often the best option and quickest fix. Plungers with a flange above the cup are best for a solid seal, making each push more effective.

Place your plunger over the drain inside your toilet, then slowly and softly push down to release the air bubbles inside the cup without splashing.

Then plunge hard (careful not to splash) for at least 20 repetitions.

If this is not enough to unblock both your tub and toilet and the toilet still backs up into your tub we will need to use a Plumbing auger to clear the clog.

Use a plumbing auger or “snake” by feeding it into the toilet or tub drain until you feel it stop at the clog.

Push back and forth to break up the clog; continue back and forth until you feel no resistance.

Local Clog: Sink or Tub Drain Method

  1. Mix equal parts salt and white vinegar until salt is dissolved. Add lemon juice if you have it; one lemon will do.
  2. Pour it directly down the tub drain and let it sit for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Pour boiling hot water directly down the bathtub drain to clear the softened clog.
  4. Alternatively, pour ½ cup of baking soda directly down the bathtub drain, and follow up with 1 cup of vinegar directly down the drain.
  5. You may see foam rise from your bathtub drain, which means the chemicals are working.
  6. Let sit for 15 minutes, then pour boiling hot water down the drain.

Sewer Main Clog

Accessing your main sewer line may be difficult, messy, and unsanitary.

An outdoor cleanout is best if you have one, but if not then you may have indoor access in your basement.

If not, you may have to remove your toilet to access it.

Once accessed, use a plumbing auger as described above, pushing back and forth until you feel no resistance to break up the clog.

Water Damage After a Sewage Backup?

Call 844-488-0570 for a Risk Free estimate from a Licensed Water Damage Restoration Specialist in your area.

We Can Help Remove the Clogs , Clean up any Sewage & Repair any water damage caused.

Most Common Issues And Their Solutions

-When I Flush The Toilet, The Bathtub Fills With Toilet Water

If the water has no human waste in it, try the local clog fixes as described above, then the sewer main clog fixes if the local clog fixes are insufficient.

-My Toilet Leaks When My Tub Drains

If the water has no human waste in it, try the local clog fixes as described above, then the sewer main clog fixes if the local clog fixes are insufficient.

-Dirt Is Coming Up Through My Bathtub Drain

This may indicate the aforementioned tree root obstruction, or an otherwise broken sewer pipe.

If the water has no human waste in it, try the sewer main clog fixes.

If there is more hair than dirt backing up into your bathtub, try the local clog fixes first, as described above.

-Bathtub Won’t Drain And Toilet Won’t Flush

If the water has no human waste in it, plunge the toilet or use a plumbing auger as described above. If that is not enough then try the sewer main clog fixes.

-Actual Poop Is Coming Up Through The Bathtub

This is a worst case scenario. It might be time to Call a professional  The water coming up your bathtub drain is too unsanitary and unsafe.

-Septic Tank Is Backing Up Into My Bathtub

This also is a worst case scenario.It might be time to Call a professional. The water is too unsanitary and unsafe.

How To Clean The Tub After A Sewage Backup

1. Gather Equipment

Put on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as described above: rubber gloves, face shield or mask, and an old smock or coveralls you don’t mind throwing out or getting dirty.

Gather a bucket, old rags/sponges/sponge mop, and bleach or other disinfectant cleaner.

Do not try to mix different cleaners together; it may cause harmful vapors.

2. Rinse Tub With Clean Water

Rinse tub with clean water from the faucet, spigot, or a hose.

Use the bucket to fill and dump if you need to, but do so carefully to avoid splashing.

Use the water to try to move any filth back down the drain a little bit at a time to avoid reclogging.

3. Sanitize & Clean with Bleach or Cleaner

Add bleach/cleaner to a bucket of clean water per product’s directions, then carefully wet rags or sponges and wring excess water into the bucket.

Carefully scrub all interior tub surfaces to clean and sanitize them.

Rinse and wring the rags or sponges in the bucket as needed.
Once everything is sterilized, pour the now-dirty bucket water down the drain.

Rinse the bucket out, then rinse the tub with clean water once more to remove excess bleach/cleaner, but avoid splashing.

Repeat if necessary.

Preventing Sewer & Toilet Backups In Your Tub

1.Make sure the vent-pipe is clear, if you have one. Typically accessible via roof, the vent pipe lets excess air out and makes your pipes work more efficiently.

2.Purchase a hair-catcher for your bathtub drain to collect hair and any other large materials.

After every bath or two, empty the catcher into your trash and put it back in your drain.

3.Install and use a water softener to prevent lime buildup.

“Hard water” is incredibly common, and a water softener can prolong the life of your pipes while making the water better for your skin and hair.

Remember to add more water softener salt every 6 months to a year.

4.Don’t pour fat/oil/grease down ANY drains in your house, as they will pour in as liquid and “freeze” or solidify in cooler pipes.

Try depositing all of your lipids from cooking into an empty unrecyclable coffee tin or food can in your kitchen.

Wait until the lipids “freeze,” then throw the container out.

5.Learn where your main sewer lines are on your property, and avoid planting trees there.

You cannot do much about trees that are already there, as tree removal and stump grinding seldom gets all the roots and can be quite costly.

Avoiding having trees there in the first place will prolong the life of your pipes.

6.Regularly empty your septic tank if you have one.

A professional with a machine known as a “honey dipper” will access your septic tank and pump or scoop out all of the solids.

Be warned, whenever you have this done there may be a strong, unpleasant odor outside your home until the job is finished.

The frequency depends on the size of your tank. Ask a professional if you are unsure how often you need to empty your septic tank.

7.Teach family members not to flush anything other than toilet paper down the toilet.

Tampons, pads, diapers, wet wipes, and similar products can clog your pipes and even damage your septic tank.

If you have a child that throws toys in the toilet, purchase and install a childproof seat lock.

When to Call a Professional

It might be time to call a Professional if you are not unable to solve the Toilet Sewage backing up in your bathtub.

Here are some situations when it might be time to call a professional:

  • If you are not comfortable using an auger if plunging fails or If the Auger Does not fix your Clog.
  • If you cannot access your Sewer Main and Local Clog Fixes did not work.
  • If there is large amounts of actual sewage that’s coming out of your bathtub drain or toilet which needs cleanup.
  • If there is a large overflow of wastewater causing water damage that needs to be cleaned up as fast as possible

In case of a large water or sewage damage if you have homeowners insurance also consider hiring a public insurance adjuster.

This is to maximize your homeowner insurance claim and cover the fees for the water damage repairs.


We have Water Damage Restoration Technicians that can help Find the Source of the Toilet Backing up into your Tub , Remove the Clog & Repair any Sewage or Water Damage Caused.

For Disasters of all Sizes,available in 95% of the USA

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