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Why Is My Toilet Bubbling When the Shower Is Running? 5 Reasons

plumber unclogging toilet

As long as the sink drains and the toilet flushes, you might not be too concerned with your plumbing. However, your bathroom has a way of commanding your attention when something is amiss. It’s a good idea to fix your toilet if it’s bubbling because it’s a sign something is blocked, which can eventually lead to further problems down the pipe. Although some bathroom appliances will have their own drain lines and vent stacks, some may share especially if the bathroom is on a smaller scale. A bubbling toilet indicates a blockage in one of five places: the sewer main drain, the vent stack, the toilet, the sink, or the tub. Each one has its own remedy, and we’ll plunge into the details below.

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The 5 Reasons Your Toilet is Bubbling When the Shower is Running

1. Clogged Toilet

woman cleaning the toilet
Image Credit: H-studio, Shutterstock

No one likes this news, but a clogged toilet happens to everyone at some point. If the clog is close enough to the surface, you might be able to unplug it using a toilet plunger. If the damage is too deep or if you don’t want to use a plunger, you can also try a home remedy of pouring boiling water or vinegar and baking soda into the bowl or poking at the visible obstruction with a wire hanger. Just be careful not to scrape the toilet bowl with the wire ends!

2. Clogged Shower Drain

Hair, dirt, and other debris can get wrapped around the drainpipes and restrict the water flow over time. You should clear any visible blockage first by digging any hair out of the drain with your fingers. You may prefer to wear gloves and even a mask for this task because the drain can smell foul because of the trapped particles. Using a drain snake, fish the wire down into the drain to catch more of the clog. You can make sure your drain is extra clean with the vinegar-baking soda trick or a chemical drain cleaner, but you should always pick one that’s non-corrosive, so it doesn’t damage your pipes.

3. Clogged Sink

Cleaning sink with vinegar_batjaket_Shutterstock
Image Credit: batjaket, Shutterstock

The process of cleaning out your sink drain is the same as unclogging the drain in your shower. Remove any visible debris, and then use a drain snake to pull out any hair or things that are stuck in the pipes, causing the blockage. Pour a vinegar-baking soda solution, boiling water, or a non-corrosive chemical down the drain to clear any extra build-up.

4. Clogged Sewer Drain

All the flushed water and sewage from the toilet, the sink, and the shower meet in this one pipe. Like the other drains, this pipe can become clogged over time. A clogged sewer drain is a bit trickier than the other causes and may require you to call a plumber. Because of this, we recommend trying the previous three steps first to see if the clog is close to the surface and easily fixable by yourself.

Although it’s possible to unclog the sewer main line without calling professional help, you run the risk of making the problem worse. Running piping hot water down the drain for about 10 minutes is the easiest way to try to fix the problem yourself with the least amount of risk. This method is more likely to work if the sewer drain is only partially clogged.

5. Blocked Vent Stack

man installing pipe on bathtub
Image Credit: Pressmaster, Shutterstock

Upon the housetop, a vent stack regulates the air flowing through the pipes. Leaves or other debris on your roof may be blocking the vent stack, creating a vacuum pressure on the drains, and causing the water to rise. If you can safely manage to climb on top of your roof, you can clear the vent stack by removing any visible signs of blockage. However, you should call a professional if your roof can’t be easily accessed.

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The only place bubbles belong in your bathroom is in a bubble bath or cleaning solution! If you notice your toilet bubbling, you’ve got a blockage in one of the five places listed above. You should rectify the problem as soon as possible to prevent a complete (and potentially costly) build-up or call a plumber if you suspect the main sewer drain is fully blocked.

Featured Image Credit: David Spates, Shutterstock


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