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Why are both my toilets backing up?

One toilet out of commission is inconvenient enough. But, two or more? That’s a catastrophe waiting to happen.

It’s a call we get more often than you may imagine. And it’s one with a few possible causes.

Well, technically, there’s one explanation: a clog. The question, however, is where the blockage is located.

How far up or down the line it is will tell you if you can fix it yourself or whether you need a professional.

Four possibilities for two toilets backing up are:

  1. Two Toilets Are Clogged
  2. Drain Line Clog
  3. Sewer Line Blockage
  4. The Main is Clogged

Let’s look at each of these and see how to determine where the problem lies.

Two Separate Clogged Toilets

Let’s not rule out the possibility that you just happen to have two clogged toilets at the same time. Sure, it’s not the most common occurrence. But, solving this problem on your own is a lot cheaper than calling an emergency plumber.

And, you may have tipped the odds in favor of this. For instance, do you regularly flush baby wipes, paper towels, or feminine products?

If so, you’ve likely created two separate clogs. The only items you should flush are human waste and toilet paper — the latter of which is designed to disintegrate.

Anything else causes a clog.

So, start with a plunger. And, upgrade to a decent one if you haven’t already. The simple bell-shaped cup ones “look” like plungers you always see.

But, accordion or flanged models do a much better job.

Toilet Augers

If you’re handy, you can also use an auger or toilet snake. That’ll remove a large clump in the trap. But be careful!

It’s easy to cause some damage if you don’t know what you’re doing here. At the least, you may scuff up the porcelain inside the bowl.

Worse than that, you can damage the pipes — especially if you have the wrong-sized auger. So, don’t just go digging for treasure right away.

Instead, read the instructions and make sure you understand your toilet’s drain setup. Or, call a professional if you’re not entirely confident.

If you do go for it, remember to flush again for good measure after you’ve removed an obstruction. But, if that’s not working, it’s time to consider a slightly bigger problem.

Two Toilets are Backed Up: Drain Line Blockage

If two toilets on the same floor of your house seem clogged, then you may have a drain line blockage. The drain line is the one line that the other drains will feed into.

This problem would cause more than one plumbing fixture to back up. It’s also why you can’t fix it with a good un-clogging.

In this case, the obstruction is much further down the line, beyond the reach of even an auger. And, now it’s blocking all water from that floor from going any further.

Here’s how you can tell this is the problem: Flush the toilet and watch your shower drain.

If you see the water bubble up, you have a drain line clog.

What’s happening is, the water from your toilet travels till it hits the clog. Then, it backs up through the entire system.

Since the shower drain is lower to the floor than the bottom of your bowl, you’ll see the backup there first.

From here, it’s time to call a plumber. No retail-grade tools will reach far enough. In the meantime, however, you can do some more diagnostics to see just how far-reaching the problem really is.

Sewer Line Clog

A sewer line clog is essentially the same as the drain line problem. The difference is that the blockage is in the line that every other line in your home feeds into as it leaves the house. If you have a toilet, or better yet a full bathroom on the first floor, you can test for this problem.

Flush the toilets upstairs. Then, watch that first-floor shower. If it bubbles, you’ve got a sewer line clog.

Similarly, if toilets on separate floors are blocked but not clogged, it’s most likely the house’s sewer line.

Like a drain line clog, it’s time to call a professional.

But, there’s one more possibility.

Main Line Clog

There’s one last possibility for your toilet problems: A blockage in the mainline. If you have city water, then your wastewater, along with your neighbors’, all empties into one main. It’s usually under the street.

The good news here is that if the blockage is out past your service connection, then it’s likely up to your municipality to fix — and pay for — the problem.

The bad news, however, is that you can’t completely diagnose it yourself. Your best bet is to ask your neighbors if they’re experiencing similar problems. If so, call the water department.

Emergency Plumbing and Other Services in Ocean City, NJ

End of the day, it’s much more likely that the reason your toilets are backing up is a problem on your side of the main, not the city’s.

So, if you need an emergency plumber or other plumbing service in Ocean City, NJ, or anywhere in Atlantic or Cape May counties, call or email us here at Broadley’s.

We’ve serviced South Jersey for nearly a century, and today we have dozens of five-star reviews on Google and Facebook.

Don’t wait for a small plumbing problem to get worse — and more expensive to fix. Call us today.