How It Works

Select the work to be done
Let us know what project you need help with and when you need it done - we'll match you with the right pros for the job.
Compare matched pros
Verify pro credentials, read reviews, ask questions, discuss availability, and request project estimates.
Complete your project
Hire the pro that's right for you and your budget. After the project is complete, let your community know how it went.
Powered by

The Home Depot

What Causes a Backed Up Drain?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Plumbing > What Causes a Backed Up Drain?
What Causes a Backed Up Drain?

One of the most unpleasant things that can happen in a home is the toilet backing up. A backed up toilet is more than just an inconvenience, it can be unsanitary and even make the bathroom unusable. When you have a backed up toilet at home, you need to take prompt action to remedy the situation. Knowing why the toilet backed up will also help you prevent such an occurrence again.


A backed up toilet can be caused by various factors. Often the first indication of a clogged toilet is slow flushing out or a gurgling sound when you flush the toilet. By calling a plumber to examine the issue as soon as the first signs appear, you can ensure that both you and your family escape the more unpleasant and unsanitary aspects of the situation.

  1. 1.Too Much TP

    A common cause of a backed up toilet is the use of too much toilet paper at a single time. If someone uses too much toilet paper and attempts to flush it down the toilet, it might clog the drain instead of disintegrating. Sometimes, the toilet paper might not be the kind that dissolves easily, causing the toilet drain to become clogged and back up. The toilet paper might also mingle with other debris such as hair and start to form a large mass that obstructs the toilet drain. Often times a plunger or auger can remove the problem if the clog is within reach. However, more severe clogs will require the plumber to open up the sewerage pipes to free the clog.

  2. 2.Kids Having a Flushing Party

    Unfortunately, small toys are often flushed down the toilet by kids, leading to clogged sewerage pipes and a backed up toilet. Children are fascinated by the sight of a small toy swirling in the toilet bowl and disappearing down the drain when flushed. If your toilet has backed up because of kids having had a flushing party, you need to enlist the help of a skilled plumber who will locate the place of the clog and clear it immediately. Additionally, you might need to talk to your children about not indulging in this activity in the future.

  3. 3.Clogged Leach Lines

    Clogged leach lines too can cause the toilet to back up. Leach lines are used to take water out of the septic tank and filter it into the ground. This process can be interrupted if sludge starts to enter the leach lines and clogs the pores that should allow water to seep into the ground. Leach lines can become clogged when non-biodegradable matter such as plastic or even non-biodegradable paper is flushed down the toilet. Additionally, harsh chemicals that kill the bacteria can lead to lower decomposition of sludge, causing an overflow from the septic tank. A professional plumber should be able to restore the clogged leach lines by pumping out the septic tank, clearing the inlet and outlet baffles, and so on.

  4. 4.Tree Roots

    Trees thrive on organic matter and water. As such, tree roots try to enter sewerage pipes for both water and nutrition. However, their presence can clog the sewer lines and lead to a backed up toilet. An expert plumber will locate the tree roots and cut them to ensure free-flow of water and sludge down the sewer lines. This will help in preventing another backed up toilet.

  5. 5.Clog in Main Drain

    If the sewerage pipe from your home is connected to the main drain, a clog in this can lead to a backed up toilet. A plumber will be able to inspect the drain pipes and determine the location of the clog, as well as clear it. A clog in the main drain can be caused by the accumulation of sludge or other debris such as leaves, branches, and even small rocks.

  6. 6.Find a Plumber with Pro Referral

    As a home owner you want to ensure that all the toilets at home flush away quickly and efficiently. However, most people are not comfortable dealing with a clogged or backed up toilet because it can be unsanitary. Moreover, a professional plumber will have both the knowledge and the right equipment to unclog the drain more quickly and efficiently.


A backed up toilet can be caused by clogs in various pipes. The clogging can occur because of a variety of material that might be flushed down the toilet including non-biodegradable toilet paper, hair, and small toys. An experienced plumber will be able to correctly identify the place of the clog and the best method to clear it as well. This will ensure that the backed up toilet is fixed quickly with minimal inconvenience to you and your family.


Every homeowner realizes the importance of a properly flushing toilet when encountering back ups. This can render the entire bathroom unusable because of the odor. Additionally, one toilet less for the entire family can lead to delays in getting ready in the morning. The easiest way to fix the problem is to utilize the help of an expert plumber who will ensure that all potential sources of clogged pipes are eliminated and every pipe is clear.

Find Pros

Get your home project started today with help from Pro Referral’s qualified network of pre-screened and background-checked professionals available in your neighborhood.

Get Expert Advice

Submit your toughest home improvement questions to our knowledgeable experts and receive free personalized solutions, product recommendations, how-to advice, and more–all within 48 hours or less.