Anything else to be done with this clogged toilet/shower?
August 24, 2011 6:37 AM   Subscribe

What to do with my clogged toilet/shower?

My wife and I just moved into a new rental house, which has been great, except for toilet/shower. When we first used the toilet, it started to overflow and there was clearly some toilet water coming out of the drain in the shower.

We called the landlord who called a plumber, and everything seemed like it was fine for about half a day, when it started again. We called again, and the plumbers came out again, and everything seemed like it was fine for about a week, until this morning when I was showering and started hearing air bubbles coming out of the toilet. Sure enough, the shower was clogged and flushing the toilet led to air bubbles out of the shower drain.

Is there anything we can do? Should we just call the plumber again? This early in the lease they haven't been charging us for the plumbers, but I think they might decide to blame it on us pretty soon and charge us for them. Any idea what the plumbers have missed on two trips?
posted by Bulgaroktonos to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
Are the toilet and shower located at the lowest point of the house? If they're on the second floor the problem is in the house, obvously (otherwise it woul overflow on the first floor). You should call someone who has a pipe inspection camera, the problem may be farther away, perhaps even on the city side if you are connected to municipal sewage system.
posted by ddaavviidd at 6:43 AM on August 24, 2011

Yeah, I should have clarified. The toilet and shower are on the second floor; the toilet is the basement has been fine throughout.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:45 AM on August 24, 2011

The clog could be in the main waste stack, or in the toilet drain if the shower drain runs into it instead of right to the stack. Did the plumber move the toilet and snake the toilet drain? If you run the bathroom sink does it drain into the shower too?
posted by nicwolff at 7:20 AM on August 24, 2011

All plumber work was done while I was at work, so I can't say for sure. The sink has seemed to be fine; I haven't noticed it draining into the shower.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:33 AM on August 24, 2011

Yeah this is a plumber issue and they should never charge you for it, given how early the issue showed up. If you think they might you should keep whatever papers you have from the first plumber visit - which was so early in your stay it's hard to see how they could pin it on you - and make some notes for future reference.

If your improvement was so short that it was just a half day the first time then my guess is that the plumber snaked the toilet or shower and cleaned out the elbows below them... and then didn't run enough water to really reproduce the issue. After all, some time passed between you experiencing it and them coming out, allowing some drainage to happen.

Keep calling.
posted by phearlez at 7:43 AM on August 24, 2011

If you're having problems in one bathroom, but not another, or your kitchen, it's also possible that you have a blockage in the sewer vent system, that is keeping the vent pipe to that room from equalizing air pressure to that room; this can cause drainage flow problems that get worse with increasing amounts of water flow, like when the shower is run and the toilet is flushed. One key observation supporting this possibility are the air bubbles rising out of the shower and the toilet.

Be sure to mention the bubbling to the plumbers this time, and ask them to check the vents, as well as the drains.
posted by paulsc at 12:11 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

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