Why Does Water Back Up Into Your Tub?

Why Does Water Back Up Into Your Tub?

Anthony Barnes

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The average person uses over 100 gallons of water per day.

That means that every time you flush the toilet or wash your hands, you’re using up precious resources.

And if you live in a hot climate, you’re likely to experience frequent water shortages.

You may not realize it, but your home’s plumbing system is designed to prevent water waste and flooding.

When you turn on the faucet, water flows from the mainline through pipes (see also our guide to suction pressure) to the fixtures.

The water supply enters the house at the lowest point possible and travels upward until it reaches the fixture.

When water is drained from your tub or sink, then it flows back down, into the sewage system.

There are plenty of different reasons why water can back up into a tub.

We take a look at some of the most common reasons and find out how to fix them.

Why Does Your Water Back Up Into Your Tub?

The bathroom is one of the most frequented rooms in a home.

This is one of the reasons why the plumbing in your bathroom needs to withstand a lot of use.

When a sink leaks or water backs up into your tub, then this can be a nuisance, and it can lead to somewhat of a “traffic jam” in larger households.

Water coming back up into your tub after it has drained is a warning sign.

Whether it is dirty water or even sewage, you need to find out the reason for this backed-up water as soon as possible.

Let’s take a look at the most common reasons why water may back up into your bathtub.

Age Of The Piping System

One of the first things that we should talk about when it comes to plumbing systems is the age of the piping system.

Older homes have older plumbing systems. These systems were built before more durable pipes were invented.

Old piping is typically made of cast iron and it tends to corrode and leak more than newer systems.

If you notice that there is water backing up into your tub, then you need to call a plumber immediately.

You do not want to wait too long because an old pipe could burst, causing major damage to your bathroom and home.

It is important to change out old pipes when you notice any signs of corrosion.

You may want to replace them with new copper piping (see also ‘Why Do Copper Pipes Turn Green And How To Clean Them?‘) or plastic alternatives so that they last longer and provide better performance.


Another thing that you will want to check with your plumber is whether or not your pipes are leaking.

Pipes that are cracked or damaged will cause water to seep into your tub.

This is a problem that you will want to fix right away so that you do not end up having to pay for expensive repairs after water damage.

A crack in your pipes that causes flooding means that dirty water and sewage could seep through floors and walls.

This can allow bacteria to enter your home, which can cause serious health problems.



Sometimes, a clog in your pipes can cause water to back up into your tub.

Whether it is due to debris, such as paper towels, or sediment, blockages can occur anywhere within your plumbing system.

You must keep a close eye on your drains and toilets to ensure that they are working properly.

It is also important that you make sure that all of your drains are clear.

If you see any signs of a clogged drain, such as water backing up, then you need to contact a professional plumber.

Tree Roots

This is particularly true for homes that have trees and shrubs growing nearby. Tree roots can grow into your pipes and cause significant damage.

They can break off portions of your pipes and cause them to collapse.

In addition, tree roots also hold a lot of moisture in the ground, so if you have older pipes, then roots can corrode your pipes much faster.

These trees can also cause cracks in your foundation and walls. They can also create holes that allow water to seep into the ground.

When you notice water backing up into your bathtub, then you need to get a plumber out to inspect your pipes.

Multi-Purpose Pipes

Pipes that are used for more than one purpose, such as carrying sewage and wastewater, often need to withstand double the usual amount of pressure.

Although these pipes tend to be larger and more robust, they are prone to breakage and leakage if they are not maintained properly.

If you notice any signs of water backing up into your bathtub, then you need to get in touch with a plumber.

They can help you identify the source of the problem so that you can prevent further damage.

The best way to avoid this issue is by making sure that you maintain your plumbing (see also ‘3 Main Types Of Plumbing Cleanouts You Should Know’) system regularly.

City Sanitation System

While this doesn’t happen very often, sometimes a city’s sanitation system can develop a fault or there is a blockage in their system.

This means that water can back up into your tub at home.

You should always check with your local authority to find out what happens if this does happen.

In some cases, the authorities might send someone round to your house to clean out the pipes. This is usually done during the winter months.

However, if you have noticed any leaks or other issues with your plumbing system, then you should contact a plumber yourself. 

The plumber will be able to advise on where the issue is and how to fix it.

What’s Dirty Water?

As its name suggests, dirty water is not clean water, so it is the water that has been used before, such as the wastewater coming from a sink or shower.

When you use your toilet, kitchen sink, or washing machine, the liquid goes down the pipe and ends up in the sewer.

This type of water is also often called brown water, greywater, or blackwater.

This water runs through your pipes, and when this water backs up, you will notice the different colors.

Because the water typically runs into the sewage system, backed-up water can also bring up any sewage, which can cause serious health issues and hygiene problems.

You should never drink this water because it contains harmful bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and even parasites.

How To Prevent Water From Backing Up

There are several ways that you can prevent water from backing up your tub, sink, or toilet. 

Check Your Pipes Regularly

One of the most effective methods of preventing water from backing up is to make sure that your pipes are free of obstructions.

Make sure that you check your taps frequently, especially after using them. You should also check your faucets every time you go to the bathroom.

This doesn’t have to be a serious inspection but just a glance will do to check that nothing is leaking and the water drains as fast as it should.

Make sure that your drain pipes and plumbing fixtures are free of any obstructions and that they are well sealed.

If you notice any cracks or holes, then you should repair them immediately or call a professional plumber.

Keep The Drain Clean

Keep The Drain Clean

Another important thing that you can do to keep your drains clear is to keep your drains clean.

You can find several drain cleaners which ensure that your drains do not get clogged.

Flush Regularly

It is recommended that you flush your toilets regularly. Make sure that you don’t flush anything down the toilet or drain that doesn’t belong there.

This includes paper towels, sanitary towels, tampons, or other sanitary products.

Always Empty Your Tub After Use

It is also important to remember to empty your sinks and bathtubs once you have used them.

This ensures that the gray water doesn’t get too thick, and it drains faster when drained immediately.

How To Fix A Clogged Drain Pipe

If you notice that your drains are getting blocked, then you need to take action quickly.

There are several ways to check the state of your drain pipes and how to sort out the blockage.

Plumbing Cameras

A good way to check if your drains are blocked is by using a camera.

These cameras allow you to see what is going on inside your drains.

The camera will show you whether there is a blockage, and how far your pipes have corroded.

They are easy to use by guiding them inside your drain, and they are available at home improvement stores and online retailers.

Plumbing cameras come in different shapes and sizes, but the majority of them look like this Sewer Inspection Camera.

Hydro Jetting

While a plumbing camera can give you an insight into your drains, and what may cause the issue of backed-up water, it won’t fix it.

A method to remove the blockage from your pipes is hydro jetting.

Hydro jetting involves the use of high-pressure water jets to dislodge debris in your drains.

You can buy these tools at hardware stores and some local DIY shops.

They come with attachments for cleaning your pipes and removing blockages.

You can also hire professionals to perform the job for you.

This is because hydro jetting requires special equipment and skills, so it may be cheaper to use a plumber.

Pipe Cleaner

If you think that your drains aren’t working properly and water is backing up into your tub, then you should try using a pipe cleaner.

The idea behind using a pipe cleaner is to break up any hard deposits that could be causing the problem.

You can buy a good-quality pipe cleaner at most hardware stores. This is usually the easiest and cheapest method to fix clogged drains.

However, some debris may be more firm, so pipe cleaner doesn’t work all the time.

Replacement Pipe

This is the last resort if you cannot fix the blockage with a pipe cleaner or hydro jetting.

It is important to note that replacement pipes are expensive, and it causes a lot of disruption as floors or walls often need to be opened to replace a pipe.


There are many reasons why water backs up into your tub. One of the most common reasons is because of a blocked drain.

You can fix a clogged drain yourself.

However, if you are not sure how to do this or you don’t have the specialist equipment, then it’s best to speak to a professional plumber.

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age