Why is there Sewage in your Bathtub? | Pittsburgh | Terry's plumbing

Why is there Sewage in your Bathtub?

If you’ve been looking forward to a nice, relaxing hot shower or bath after a long day of work, the last thing you want to see is sewage backing up in your bathtub. Not only is it gross, it means that there’s something wrong with your plumbing. In this blog we cover why it happens and what you can do to fix it.

What Causes it?

When raw sewage or questionable water is in your bathtub, the problem lies not with your bathtub itself, but with the sewer line beneath it. Your bathtub and toilet drain down separate pipes until all the drained materials mix and are forced out of your home through one line: the sewer main. If the main sewer line is obstructed in some way, all the material that failed to drain properly can build up, eventually coming up in odd places.

Sewer lines may become clogged for a number of reasons. Often, some water can flow around these obstructions, however the blockage can become more significant over time. Here’s a list of some of the causes of sewer line blockages:

  • Tree roots growing into the line
  • Obstructions from “unflushable” items i.e., baby wipes, personal care products, toilet scrubbers, etc.
  • Grease buildup
  • Sewer line damage

How to Clear a Sewer Line Clog

Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to clear a sewer line by plunging the toilet or your bathtub drains. Plungers only work to clear blockages near the head of the drain or within the toilet, not all the way down to the sewer line.

However, there are a couple of things you can try to loosen any obstructions that may be in smaller connecting pipes. Though, some of these methods also come with some risk of damaging your plumbing system.

  • Turn off the water: At the first sign of a sewer line clog, turn off your main water supply. You won’t want extra water to flow into areas that are already backed up. Typically, the main shutoff valve is found in your basement. If your house has an outside sewer cleanout line, removing the cap will release the pressure in the line and force any sewage backup back down the drain.
  • Check your vent pipe: When vent pipes become blocked, it prevents your sewer line from draining properly. Head up to your roof and search for your vent pipe, which is likely over your bathroom. Scan for anything that might be blocking the pipe and remove any obstructions close to the top with a retrieval tool.
  • Snake the drain: Drain snakes can be very helpful when clearing clogs in your sewer line. Feed a toilet drain snake down the toilet, spinning clockwise on the way down. As you pull the snake out, cautiously twist counterclockwise. Next, use the same technique on your bathtub drain. If your drain snaking is successful, the source of the clog will be broken by the snake, and both your toilet and tub will drain successfully.

Get Super Terry

If none of these solutions work, make sure to call a plumber. It’s not safe to have sewage backing up in your bathtub. When you suspect there are problems with your main sewer line, be sure to call Terry’s Plumbing to schedule an appointment.