We just moved into a rental home after selling our home and waiting for our next home. It has 3 toilets.

Someone was in the shower and the toilets started bubbling, all 3 toilets. The shower was not backing up. I tried flushing one of the toilets and it started to fill with water. After about 20 minutes we plunged all the toilets and the water went down.

I understand it is a rental but we were very lucky to get this rental for a short term lease and if there is an easy fix (my husband is a repair man) he would do it himself.

I don't know if this makes a difference but the day before we moved in there was a storm and the roof above a half bath was damaged. The roof was fixed that day, but a piece of drywall around the vent is being fixed monday.

Ive read some threads on the issue, but I have never heard anyone say all the toilets bubbled when one specific shower is turned on. The toliets are not even close to each other. The house is 2700 sq ft on one floor. No neighbors are having issues. We are in a HOA that maintains the water service (sewer). The house is one a hill, level lot but on a hill. It has a small pool and spa that run all the time (like water spilling over from the hot tub to the pool in a loop. I don't care if this feature is on and didn't know if turning it off would help.

Any advice would be appreciated.

2 Answers 2


This is a classic symptom of a restriction/blockage of the main sewer line downstream of the toilets. No way to know for sure without scoping with a camera and/or running a mainline sewer cable.

You say

We are in a HOA that maintains the water service (sewer)

It is the HOA's responsibility to clear this up. If you don't feel comfortable reporting it because you are subletting, have the leaseholder report it. How will you feel reporting it if there is a backup which floods the entire unit?

  • Couldn't this also be a restriction in a vent? OP reports roof damage. Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 23:20
  • Thanks for your reply. After I posted this the master shower started to over flow with water (the master bath is about 250 sq ft and the whole area filled with water. We tried contacting the property management and HOA (but it is Sunday and I am in Utah so no answer). No plumber would come out. My husband got all the water to drain and cleaned up the water, we have a wet dry vac and rug doctor. My husband was wondering , when the roof leaked and got fixed insulation got into the half bath and flushed by the contractor, could that have caused the back up?
    – jer2317
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 0:05
  • Yes, if insulation material was flushed into the drain pipes that could have caused a clog, or could have exacerbated an already partially occluded drain to the point of clog. Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 4:09
  • I agree. You may have roots in the sewer line and that insulation has become tangled in the roots, but it will never break down so it is not going to be something you can fix yourself, it needs a rooter service.
    – JRaef
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 22:49
  • The plumber came. It was a tree root and the sewer line is partially collasped. Of course now is it the Homeowner or HOA side? For now he said we could shower and flush but no toilet paper. At least I get some plumbing and hope it gets fixed soon. Thanks for all you guys answers. My husband is a repairman (not plumbing) so I will make sure he tries and help answer questions in his field of expertise.
    – jer2317
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 23:18

I agree. Toilet paper should not cause any further problems. However, I have been educated by the plumber at work after the drain partly clogged(not by me). The original drain in our case is cast iron which rusts and tends to catch stuff. Our problem was caused by paper towel. To determine if something is safe to flush, get it wet with water and see how easy it breaks apart. If it is easy to break apart then it shouldn't cause a problem.

  • Bad news. The plumber came out to fix the sewer, he got the tree roots out and was going to put some sleeve on it but there is a large rock, like 4 feet high in a retaining wall in the way that collapsed on the pipe. Now an engineer has to be called because moving the rocks is damaging the foundation and it will best case weeks, worse case months. Now Im searching for a new home because the plumber just gave me a sad look and said it is not good, find a new place. Pretty sad that one of the nicest custom homes in our area was built this way.
    – jer2317
    Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 2:53

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