A friend of mine says when they run the dishwaser at her father's house it backs up into the BATHTUB. What could be causing that?

  • 3
    There is a clog/restriction in the drain line, and the tub is likely the lowest drain so the first to flood. Find the clog, and clear it.
    – Tester101
    Mar 18 '12 at 12:33
  • Can you tell me where I go about looking for this clog? Where to start?
    – rons
    Mar 20 '12 at 22:34

Clog or Restricted Drain

The most likely cause of this would be a clog, or restriction in the drain line. When the dishwasher discharges, it's too much water too fast for the drain to handle. The water likely backs up into the tub, because it's the easiest escape for the excess water.

If there is a clog, it would be somewhere in the drain line after the tub (which is why it backs up into the tub). Without actually being at your house, it's nearly impossible for me to be more specific.

I would start with a liquid clog remover (like drain-o, liquid plumber, etc.), which I would pour down the tub drain. Make sure you select an appropriate product. for example if you have a septic system, choose a product that is safe for septic systems.

If that doesn't work, you could snake the drain (or have a plumber do it).

Full Septic Tank

If you have a septic system, it may be time to have it pumped and inspected. When septic tanks are full they cannot leech water fast enough, often times the result is waste water backing up into other fixtures.

The only solution here, would be to call in a professional to service the tank.


Usually a sign that there is no vent on the drain where the dishwasher discharges. The drain is looking for air and the tub is the most convenient outlet for the pressure. Could there be a blockage? Certainly.... but the first thing I'd look for would be if the drain has a vent.

  • I'm not a plumber, but I'm not sure I buy the no-vent theory... The vent is where air enters the line, to displace sewage moving down the line. Without the vent, a vacuum would build up behind the sewage and prevent it from progressing towards the sewage main or the septic tank. If the tub was acting as a vent in this situation, I would think that air would be entering through the tub drain; not sewage exiting through it.
    – JeffG
    Mar 21 '12 at 17:28

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