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What Does It Mean When Water Comes Up From the Shower Drain?

A backed-up shower drain is one of the most irritating plumbing issues you may encounter as a homeowner. Your bathroom can start stinking in no time if the backed-up water is mixed with sewage and other muck. And if you are new to this issue, you will feel clueless, not knowing what backed-up water means. Here is an explanation from a trusted emergency plumber in Vancouver, WA, about  what it means when the water in your shower comes up and how you can resolve the issue.

Causes for Your Shower Drain Backing Up

Your shower drain could be clogged due to various reasons. Below are some of the common causes of a backed-up shower drain:

Clog in Another Area of Your Home

A clog in a different area of your home could cause your shower drain to back up. The different pipes in your plumbing system are connected. If anything causes the main sewer line to back up, it could lead to a water buildup in your shower.

Hair in the Drain

Hair is one of the primary culprits of clogs in the shower. It can mix up with scum and soap and create stubborn blockages. However, you can easily prevent hair from clogging your shower with drain guards for your bathtub, shower, and sink.


soap clogging your shower is a common problem in bathrooms. Traditional soap bars are made of fat or grease. These combine with the minerals in water and form soap scum. While these can easily be cleaned from outside your drains and faucets, they will build up in your pipes and eventually clog your shower.

Dirt and Debris

We clean most of our items in the bathroom. For example, our muddy shoes get washed after a hike, or our gardening tools get cleaned in the shower. The shower is our favorite place to clean and wash any dirty items. All this mud and dirt gets collected and builds up in the pipe over time, leading to a backed-up shower.

Toilet Paper

Sometimes, putting too much toilet paper in the toilet can block your drain and lead to your shower drain backing up.

Clog from a Bath Bomb

As surprising as it sounds, a bath bomb can also clog a shower. Sometimes, the salts in the bombs will not dissolve completely. In addition, some bath bombs have glitter and oils that don’t dissolve in water. As a result, like other dirt, these particles can stick to your hair or build up in pipes and clog your shower.

What to Do if You Suspect Your Shower Drain is Backing Up?

You will notice signs like gurgling sounds from the drain, sewage smell, and water flowing out of the drain to indicate your shower drain is backed up. Check if you can see any obvious obstruction in the drain. For example, you may notice clumps of hair, paper, or soap scum. Next, double-check if your drain is open. See if there is enough room between your drain stopper and pipe for water to flow easily. Sometimes, if the stopper is closed, the water will fill up and look like a clog. Once you ensure this is not the problem and confirm that the backed-up water is actually from a clog, you can try to unclog your drain.

How to Unclog a Backed-up Shower Drain?

Try the below methods if the drain in your shower is backing up:

Remove the Clog by Hand

If you can see the clog near the surface and access it easily, wear a pair of rubber gloves and pull the clog by hand. It will immediately clear the drain. You may be tempted to use a clothes hanger to pull out the clog, but avoid doing so, as it can damage your drain.

Use a Drain Snake

A drain snake or a plumber’s snake can also help unclog the shower drain. It is a flexible, retractable drilling tool readily available at hardware stores. Use the snake’s hand crank and send the metal wire down. The wire will either pull up whatever clogs the drain or break up the collected dirt and debris.

Pour a Pot of Boiling Water

If the drain snake doesn’t pull out anything and you cannot see any visible clog, a pot of boiling water may help. The water will dissolve soft buildup like soap scum. You may, however, have to repeat the process two-three times before the clog clears up.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain. Wait for some time and pour a cup of vinegar over it. Leave it for a couple of hours, and pour boiling water over the mixture to clear the drain.

Use a Chemical Drain Cleaner

Though not eco-friendly, drain cleaning chemicals may help unclog your shower drain and clear the water backup. You can get these chemicals easily at hardware stores. Ensure you follow the instructions correctly when using them.

Call a Plumber

Sometimes, none of the above-mentioned methods will clear your shower drain. Or you may want to avoid taking your drain apart and try to unclog it. At such times, contacting a professional plumber like Carlson Plumbing Company can help. They offer emergency plumbing services, drain cleaning, sewer repair, water heater repair and installation, and several other plumbing services. They can identify the cause of water backup and help you unclog your shower drain.

A clogged drain can be frustrating. Not knowing the cause and how to solve it can make you feel helpless. Following the tips above and seeking a professional plumber’s help can help you unclog your drain and use your shower comfortably.

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