If you have sewage from your toilet backing up into tub or shower, you’ll obviously want to fix this immediately. Most often, this type of backup is caused by a clog in the main sewer line. If it’s not a clog in the main line, then it could be a clog in the shared drain pipe that’s connected to both the shower drains and toilet. If this is the case, then the problem is specific to just the toilet and shower.

Local Clog

If the clog is local — as in it’s in the shared drain pipe — you’ll basically just need to unclog the toilet. To clear the clog, you can use a plunger on the toilet to break it loose. To make this step more effective, seal off the drain in the shower and then plunge the toilet up and down several times. Then quickly break the seal by yanking the plunger up. You may need to repeat this process several times to break the clog loose. Make sure to wear gloves.

If plunging doesn’t work, use a plumbing auger. Follow the instructions on the packaging to effectively clear the clog.

You can clear a shower clog using a simple solution of salt and vinegar. Start by combining equal parts salt and white vinegar. Stir the solution until the salt has completely dissolved and the liquid is smooth. Pour this solution directly down the drain and allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes. If the clog is pretty far down your shower drain, you can add lemon juice to the mixture to make it a bit more powerful. Once the 15 minutes have passed, pour boiling hot water directly down the drain to rinse it out. Be careful to not pour the water into the bathtub basin as it can splash and you’ll waste a lot of hot water. Alternatively, you can use a plumber’s snake.

You can also stop your toilet backing up into tub by rinsing the drain with a solution of baking soda and vinegar. Pour one cup of baking soda directly down your shower drain and then follow it up with a cup of vinegar. The solution will bubble slightly, but once it subsides, close the drain or seal it off. Let it sit for 15 minutes and then rinse it with boiling hot water. 

Once you’ve tried either the salt or baking soda solutions, plunge your toilet to break up any remaining blockages.

Clog in the Main Line

If plunging the toilet doesn’t stop the sewage from backing up into bathtub, then the clog is most likely in the main sewer line. First, you’ll need to determine the best place to access the pipe. As this can be a very messy and unsanitary job, it’s best to start at the outside cleanout. If you don’t have an outdoor accessible cleanout, then you will need to find the floor or basement cleanout inside the house. Otherwise, you will need to pull a toilet to access the lines.

To clear the clogged drain, you’ll need the proper drain snaking equipment (the afore mentioned auger). Just be careful that it’s not too short. At the same time, if it’s too long and you let too much out, it can become entangled in the sewer system or septic tank. Grab a pair of gloves that are coated with a hard plastic so you can easily feed the cable into the pipe.

Once you have the correct equipment and have found the right access point, start by turning on the rotating snake and carefully feed the cable into the access point. You will feel resistance once the cable reaches the clog. Allow the snake to penetrate and then move past the clog, then stop the machine and reverse it. If you continue to feel resistance, repeat this process as many times as needed. Once the pipe feels clear, reverse the snake cable and feed it back onto the spool.

Once you’ve cleared the main drain, your shower and toilet should start draining properly without any sewage backup in the water.

If you are unable to clear the blockage using this method and the toilet backing up into tub is still happening, there’s a chance that the clog is being caused by tree roots that have grown into the pipes. At this point, it’s best to call a professional to come in as you’ll need to replace the pipes. You can also call in a pro to unclog a toilet if you don’t want to deal with the mess in the first place or are worried about making matters worse.

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