Water Coming Up Through the Bathtub Drain? Typical Causes and What to Do About It

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It’s called a fatberg. In London, sewage workers pulled a fatberg from the drains that were reported as 800 feet long and weighed approximately 130 metric tons, the size of 11 double-decker buses.

Essentially, a fatberg is just what it sounds like, a big glob of fat that clogs drains. If you have water coming up through bathtub drains, you may have your own fatberg, too. Find out what causes this, and how to fix water coming up through the bathtub drain right here.

Why Is Water Coming Up Through the Bathtub Drain?

There are many reasons for water coming up through the drains, whether that is happening in the kitchen sink, bathtubs, or shower drains. The primary reason, however, is the fatberg.

A fatberg is a big glob of fat, that combines with oil, grease, and congealed fats along with anything else you might flush or drain down the sinks. When you are flushing materials or draining materials in your house, blocks away someone else is doing the same.

Your fats from the holiday feast you drain down the sink could congeal and combine with anything from baby wipes to paper towels that someone down the block is draining.

That’s a problem. Those little items that are drained or flushed, congeal and combine with each other to create a baby fatberg.

The more you flush or drain, the bigger the fatberg. Plumbers know these as clogged drains.

In the 2018 holiday season, the City of Arcata Environmental Services Department had to issue a press release to encourage residents to be very careful of flushing or draining these types of fats.

Other Causes of Drain Problems

Fatbergs are not the only cause of drain problems. You may also have a clogged trap in the kitchen or bathroom, a clogged vent pipe, or a clog in the main drain.

The clog may not even be coming from your own home, but somewhere else in the system. This is rare, but problems from other homes could cause a clog in the main drain.

There is a trap in the plumbing of both your bathroom and kitchen and these traps are meant to keep sewer gas from coming into the home. There is always a bit of water here, but sometimes these traps experience a hair buildup, and this could also lead to a clogged drain or water coming up in the bathroom tub or sink.

When the hair builds up, it can restrict the water flow. This is a very common cause of water coming up the bathroom drain.

In some neighborhoods, main drains are also on a steep pitch and don’t drain as quickly as we would like. This is sometimes another cause of water coming up in the bathroom.

Clogged vent pipes are another cause as well. The vents take in air to ensure the plumbing flows well. It can happen that rodents or bugs get into the venting through your roof. This could lead to a clog as well.

So if you have water coming up through bathtub drains, know you are not alone. Sometimes the particles like hair and dirt are able to just wash away into sewage systems. And sometimes they cling to fatbergs and make a big mess.

Cleaning solvents like Drano or Liquid Plumber aren’t always effective in removing these fatbergs. When they don’t work, you see water coming up through the pipes, and there’s only one place for that yucky water to go. Here’s why.

How Your Home Plumbing Works

Your home plumbing system is shaped like a tree, with many branches. When you pour something down any drain, such as grease or hair after you wash it in the sink, those items travel down the drains.

Each branch of the plumbing tree in your home is attached to additional drain pipes outside the home. Outside the home, there is the main drain for the entire neighborhood and additional tree branches off of that.

The branches inside your home will collect what you flush down the sinks and will attempt to move it towards the main drain. When the main drain receives that water, it moves it towards the city septic tank or sewer system.

This is why a clog or fatberg can occur anywhere in your home. If you flush something down the kitchen sink after a big meal and then wash your hair in the bathroom sink, it’s all moving through the same main line towards the outside main drain.

Then if there is too much poured down the drain, a clog can occur. In the home, something you poured down the kitchen sink can clog the bathroom drain.

This is why you might see water coming through the bathroom drain. But it is more likely if you see this water that there is a clog in the somewhere in the bathroom pipe system.

Because it’s already moved with other water from other areas in the home, when it comes up through the drain, it might smell or be dirty. When the pipe is clogged, and additional water is poured down, it only has one place to go. Up.

So you’ll see water coming up through bathroom drains when this happens.

How to Fix Bathroom Plumbing

The first way to keep your bathroom plumbing in good working order is prevention. You may see signs in restaurant restrooms not to flush anything that is insolvent down the toilets.

Learn how to keep drain pipes clean for future reference.

That’s because those things cause clogs or fatbergs when they combine with restaurant garbage. So the first thing to do is not flush anything down the drain that isn’t water soluble.

You even need to be very careful about grease and fats going down the drain, in any area of your home.

Your first instinct is to plunge the problem when water is coming through the bathroom drain. You may also want to use a cleaner such as Drano or Liquid Plumber, or try a home remedy such as vinegar or baking soda.

In some cases, those products will dissolve the fatberg and resolve the problem. But that isn’t always the case. Many plumbers will even tell you that they just won’t work.

Another method of resolving clogs is cleaning out the J-trap that is underneath your bathroom sink. But if you have water coming into the bathtub, that’s a sign of a much bigger problem, due to the tree branches of the plumbing system of your home.

Plumbers advise of many methods of unblocking drains in your home. But due to how clogs can affect the main sewage system, they will almost always recommend calling them first.

A visit from the plumber to resolve a simple clog is more affordable than many homeowners think today.

Call the Experts

When you have water coming up through the bathtub drain, you have serious water and plumbing problem. The first instinct as a homeowner is to try plunging it yourself or using chemicals to resolve the problem.

In many cases, this makes the problem worse. It’s important to remember the tree system that your home plumbing system consists of.

Plunging the problem could actually send the fatberg or clog to somewhere else in your home.

At the same time, even temporary fixes could still send dirty clogged water into your bathroom or kitchen. Schedule a repair as soon as you can, and you will find solving the problem with an expert is affordable, fast, and safe.