Toilet Flushes But Waste Comes Back: 8 Reasons Why

By |Published On: December 8th, 2021|Categories: Residential Plumbing, Sewer Systems|

Your toilet flushes, but waste comes back. What’s that all about? The answer is more simple than you think. Sometimes, the problem is with your toilet itself, but usually, the issue is your sewer pipes. By the end of this article, you’ll know why your sewer pipes are broken, how to clear a clog, and how to fix a broken sewer pipe.

Home flush toilet (toilet bowl, paper, plunger)

8 Reasons Why Your Toilet Flushes But Waste Comes Back

If you try to flush waste down a broken or clogged sewer pipe, the waste will have nowhere to go and try to escape using the closest exit. Sometimes, the waste will come back up through your shower or tub. But in this case, the problem is with your toilet.

  • Tree roots – Tree roots are very problematic when it comes to sewer pipes. If you have a lot of trees in your yard, chances are, hundreds of tree roots are searching for water in your soil. If a crack in your pipe is leaking, a tree root can use this opening to access a new water source. From here, the roots will grow, clogging or further cracking your pipes.

  • Cast iron pipes – If your home was built before the 1970s, chances are it’s equipped with cast iron pipes. Cast iron is a strong material but still rusts and corrodes over time.

  • Terracotta pipes – Terracotta pipes can be traced back to 4,000 BCE, and oddly enough, are still used today. Builders used them in the early 1900s because they were cheap and widely available. On the down side, they are weak and prone to leaks and cracks.

  • Shifting soil – If your soil shifts, the sudden pressure can cause your sewer pipes to crack, leak, or collapse. Soil can shift because of an increase in rain, a sudden drought, freezing temperatures, and more.

Man with shovel in trench showing old broken terracotta ceramic sewer line completely filled with invasive tree roots.
  • Drain cleaners with sulfuric acid – Did you know that most drain cleaner products contain sulfuric acid, which can ruin metal? If you’re pouring drain cleaner down your cast iron pipes, trying to clear a clog, you’re just making things worse.

  • Grease – If you’ve been pouring cooking oil, fats, or grease down your toilet, you need to stop! The liquid fat in grease hardens as it dries, sticking and clogging to the inside of your pipes.

  • Flushable wipes – Do not flush “flushable wipes.” Flushable only means that your toilet is able to flush the wipes. It does not mean that your sewer pipes can drain them. Regular toilet paper will disintegrate inside your sewer pipes, while flushable wipes were designed to remain intact. From now on, throw away used wipes in the trash.

  • Obstructing objects – If you have children, check if one of their toys is missing. A flushed toy can cause your sewer pipes to clog, causing waste to come back.

4 Ways To Clear A Clogged Toilet

If the problem is just a simple clog, you can easily handle the issue yourself.

At-home remedies – If you combine products you likely have around the house, you can create your own natural drain cleaner. Check to see if you have the following items:

  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Borax
  • Cream of tartar
  • Lemon juice
  • Dish soap
  • Hot water
  • A wire coat hanger

A plunger – Chances are you have a plunger lying around somewhere. If not, you can buy one from your local utility, home goods store, or online. The one thing with plungers is that they can only clear clogs close to the surface. If the clog is deeper down the sewer pipe, a plunger won’t be very effective.

Plunger and toilet

A sewer snake – You don’t have to be a plumber to use a sewer snake. You can buy one online or at your local hardware store. There are different types of sewer snakes for different types of pipes and clogs. If you have pipes less than 2 inches in diameter, you should use a flat tape snake. If the clog is tougher than usual, you can use a power snake, which is hooked up to a motor. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can still call a plumber.

Plumber using a hand auger to snake a toilet

Hydro-jetting – Hydro-jetting is a sewer pipe cleaning solution only available through plumbers. Hydro-jetting starts by accessing your sewer pipes using a cleanout or by removing a toilet. Then, a self-propelled nozzle shoots up to 4,000 PSI (pounds per square inch) of water through your pipes, clearing away debris, clogs, and even tree roots.

If none of these solutions work, chances are the issue is bigger than a clog. You might be looking at a broken sewer pipe. If you schedule a CCTV sewer camera inspection, you can narrow down what’s causing waste to come back.

2 Ways To Fix A Broken Sewer Pipe

If you have a broken sewer pipe, most plumbers will recommend two different repair methods.

Traditional trenching – If your sewer pipe is extremely damaged, plumbers will suggest digging up all of the old pipes and replacing them manually. The procedure is very invasive, but it’s the only solution for collapsed, disintegrated, or back-pitched pipes.*

*A sewer line must be sloped down toward the city connection, allowing gravity to move sewage. If builders installed the pipe using the wrong slope, the waste can flow toward your home in the wrong direction.

Trenchless sewer repair – Trenchless sewer repair is just as the name suggests. It doesn’t involve trenching. Sewer repair professionals can replace entire sections of pipe without having to dig through your home or yard. Read more about how to replace the sewer line under your home.

Who Do You Call Now?

If you live in the Greater Los Angeles area and don’t know who to call, get in touch with New Flow Plumbing. We’ll get you started with a CCTV sewer camera inspection to determine where your problems come from. Then, we give you a free repair estimate, followed by the best repair options. Whatever the issue, New Flow Plumbing will have your plumbing running perfectly again.

About the Author: New Flow Plumbing Inc.

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