Apartment Bathtub Backing up: 4 Immediate Steps to Take

Apartment living has its perks, but dealing with plumbing issues can quickly turn it into a nightmare. One common problem many apartment dwellers face is a bathtub baking up. When you find yourself ankle-deep in water or facing slow drainage, it’s crucial to take immediate action.

In this article, we’ll outline four simple steps to prevent a plumbing disaster and ensure a smoothly running bathtub in your apartment. Don’t let a bathtub baking up ruin your day. Follow these steps and regain control over your apartment’s plumbing system.

Signs of a Backed-Up Bathtub

There are several signs that your bathtub may be backing up. Some of the most common include:

Slow drainage: If your bathtub is draining slower than usual, it may be a sign that there is a blockage.

Standing water: If water is standing in your bathtub after you’ve finished showering or bathing, it’s likely that there’s a blockage.

Unpleasant odors: If you notice a foul smell coming from your bathtub drain, it’s likely that there’s a buildup of hair, soap, or other debris.

water from bathtub backing up in apartment

4 Immediate Steps to Take

If you notice that your bathtub is backing up, there are a few immediate steps you can take to prevent further damage:

Step 1: Turn off the water: Stop using your bathtub immediately to prevent further water from backing up.

Step 2: Remove any standing water: Use a bucket or other container to remove any standing water in your bathtub.

Step 3: Check the drain stopper: If you have a drain stopper, remove it and see if there’s any hair or other debris blocking the drain. If you can remove the blockage, do so.

Step 4: Try a plunger: Use a plunger to try to remove any remaining blockages in your drain.

How to Unclog Your Bathtub

If the immediate steps don’t work, you’ll need to try more advanced methods to unclog your bathtub. Here’s what you can do:

Use a drain snake

A drain snake is a long and flexible tool that can reach deep into your pipes to clear out blockages. Insert the snake into the drain and twist until resistance is felt; then, slowly pull the snake back out of the hole to free any obstructions.

A man use drain snake to reach deep into pipes and clear out blockages

Try a drain cleaning solution

There are many drain cleaning solutions available at your local hardware store. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and use the solution in a well-ventilated area.

Call a professional

If none of these methods work, it’s time to call a professional plumber. They can use advanced tools and techniques to remove any blockages in your pipes.

Causes of Apartment Bathtub Backing Up

Clogged drain

A clogged drain is the most common cause of bathtub backing up. Over time, hair, soap, and other debris can accumulate in your drain and create blockages that prevent water from flowing freely.

A clogged drain (hair) in bathtub

Main sewer line blockage

A blockage in your main sewer line can cause water to back up into your bathtub. This can be caused by tree roots, buildup of debris, or other factors.

Broken or damaged pipes

If your pipes are old or damaged, they may crack or break, causing water to back up into your bathtub.

Malfunctioning plumbing fixture

If your plumbing fixture, such as the overflow drain or the trip lever, is not working properly, it can cause water to back up into your bathtub.

Solutions for Apartment Bathtub Backing Up

Use a plunger

If the blockage is minor, you can try using a plunger to clear it. Place it over the drain and apply pressure to create a vacuum then pull up on it to release any obstruction from beneath.

Use a drain snake

If the plunger doesn’t work, you can try using a drain snake to break up the blockage. Insert the drain snake into the drain and turn the handle to remove the blockage.

Clean your drain

To prevent future clogs, clean your drain regularly using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar or a commercial drain cleaner.

Call a professional plumber

If the blockage is severe or you suspect a main sewer line blockage or damaged pipes, contact an experienced plumber for assistance. They have advanced tools and techniques that can accurately locate and eliminate the blockage.

Check plumbing fixtures

If the issue is caused by a malfunctioning plumbing fixture, such as the overflow drain or the trip lever, a professional plumber can repair or replace the fixture to prevent future issues.

Tips for Preventing Bathtub Backups

Prevention is always the best cure when it comes to plumbing issues. Here are a few tips to help prevent bathtub backups in the future:

Use a drain cover:  A drain cover can prevent hair and other debris from getting into your drain.

Clean your drain regularly: Use a drain cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to clean your drain regularly and prevent buildup.

Don’t pour grease or oil down the drain: Grease and oil can solidify in your pipes and cause blockages.

Be mindful of what you flush: Only flush toilet paper and bodily waste down the toilet. Flushing other items can cause blockages and damage to your plumbing.

water in bathtub

When to Call a Professional

If you’ve exhausted all other methods and your bathtub is still backing up, it may be time to call a professional plumber. They possess advanced tools and techniques that can locate and eliminate the blockage in your pipes.

If you suspect your plumbing issue could be due to aging pipes, having a professional plumber inspect your system is recommended to identify any underlying problems that need addressing.


Dealing with a backed-up bathtub in your apartment can be frustrating, but it’s essential to take action quickly in order to prevent further harm. By following the steps outlined above, you can solve the issue promptly and prevent future occurrences. If all else fails, don’t hesitate to call in an experienced plumber for help getting the job done correctly.


Can I use bleach to unclog my bathtub?

Bleach is not recommended as a drain cleaner, as it can damage your pipes and create harmful fumes.

Can I use a coat hanger to unclog my bathtub?

Using a coat hanger to unclog your drain is not recommended, as it can damage your pipes and create more problems.

Why is my bathtub backing up even though I’ve cleaned the drain?

If your bathtub is still backing up even after you’ve cleaned the drain, there may be an issue further down in your plumbing system that requires professional attention.

Is it safe to use a drain cleaning solution?

Drain cleaning solutions can be safe if used correctly and in a well-ventilated area. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and avoid mixing different products.