“Help! My Toilet and Shower Clogged at the Same Time!” Kris in Citrus Heights Asks a Plumber
I’m skipping the intro today because our friend Kris in Citrus Heights has just about as urgent a plumbing emergency as a homeowner can get. Kris says:
“Help! My toilet and shower clogged at the same time, and I have absolutely no idea why this is happening or, what’s even worse, what I should do about it! It all started a few weeks ago when the shower in my downstairs bathroom started to drain really slowly and I found myself standing in a few inches of water every time I used it. This has never happened before and—fortunately—I haven’t ever even had so much as a little sewage backup down there.
But then all of a sudden this week, the shower stopped draining all together and the toilet became entirely clogged! My questions are, what do you think caused it—and what should I do to get this fixed? Thanks in advance!” – Kris in Citrus Heights, CA
Very sorry to hear about all of that double trouble in your downstairs bathroom, Kris. I know it’s a small consolation, but let me tell you that you’re not alone and this isn’t all that unusual. In fact, when you have two fixtures in close proximity like that, it’s fairly common for the toilet and the shower to get clogged at the same time. There isn’t an experienced residential plumber out there who hasn’t dealt with this.
I think Kris has a situation that we can look at it for some good general advice about what causes clogs like this, how you can notice them before they escalate into bigger pipe problems, and what you should do when they occur.
What Causes a Toilet and Shower to Be Clogged at the Same Time?
If you’ve ever had your toilet and shower clogged at the same time, there’s a very good chance that one single cause is to blame for both. Generally speaking, all of your drains in a single bathroom (like the one that our friend Kris described above) tend to be connected to a single, larger drain pipe.
This type of clog is almost always caused by debris going down your drains, whether that’s items that shouldn’t have been flushed down the toilet in the first place, hair that goes down the drain in your shower, or a simple build-up of much smaller debris.
While, yes, sometimes it can be entirely coincidental as there could very well be separate clogs causing trouble in both your shower and your bathroom at once, this scenario is pretty unlikely. In fact, in all my years on the job, I do believe that I’ve only seen it once or twice. The odds are on a clog happening in the single drain pipe the two fixtures share. This type of clog is almost always caused by debris going down your drains, whether that’s items that shouldn’t have been flushed down the toilet in the first place, hair that goes down the drain in your shower, or a simple build-up of much smaller debris.
How to Prevent Having Your Toilet and Shower Clogged at the Same Time
Everyday use of your shower often results in hair getting washed down the drain and, no matter how careful you are, there are times when things that shouldn’t be in the toilet do end up getting flushed. There are, however, a few easy preventative steps you can take to keep both your toilet and your shower flowing free, including:
- Regular drain clearing: As I’ve talked about in the past, keeping your drain clear is a smart move, especially if you decide to go the most prudent route and have it done by a trained plumbing professional rather than using cruder methods like plunging or chemicals that can potentially harm your pipes. A professional plumber can quickly clear up smaller clogs before they become major obstructions.
- Plumbing inspections: I’ve talked about this in the past as well, but if you’re a new homeowner, or even one that didn’t have this done when you first bought your house, you really ought to call out a professional to have a plumbing inspection done. Just like during a drain clearing, your local expert plumber will be able to tell you whether you have small obstructions in your pipes that need to be cleared or, even more importantly, whether you’re at risk of any of your pipes breaking.
- Watch for signs of a main sewer clog: I advise any and all homeowners to keep their eyes peeled for signs of a main sewer clog, which include water backing up into your drains, multiple clogged drains in the house, and standing sewage. Now, Kris hasn’t described any of these other signs, so that’s probably not her problem today, but it’s still important that all homeowners know these signs because a main sewer clog can be so severe and disruptive.
Now, you may have noticed a pattern in all of our advice today: it all suggests calling a professional. The reason for this is that having both your toilet and shower clogged at the same time suggests a much deeper clog than the average homeowner is equipped to deal with by themselves.
…having both your toilet and shower clogged at the same time suggests a much deeper clog than the average homeowner is equipped to deal with by themselves.
Showers and toilets are the most important parts of your plumbing setup, for obvious reasons; I don’t have to tell you that it’s vital to keep them clear. Here at Bell Brothers, we have years of experience taking care of these clogs, so if you’ve noticed some or any of these signs—or if you just haven’t had a professional plumber out to check your pipes in many years—I highly recommend giving us a call now!
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Image courtesy famveldman