What To Do When Your Toilet Is Overflowing

Toilet water overflowYour toilet is normally a reliable, plumbing invention that moves water and waste efficiently out to municipal, processing plants. However, toilets can overflow at times. The amount of water that gushes out of a toilet bowl can be unnerving as you try to stop any moisture damage to the surrounding floor and drywall.

Stop what you’re doing, and follow these simple steps to curb the water overflow. You’ll feel like a professional in no time.

Don’t Flush It

When you press down on the flushing lever, the water stored in the vertical tank drops down into the bowl. The tank fills automatically after the release so that it’s ready for another flush only a few minutes later. For inexperienced household members, a toilet with a rising water level encourages them to try the lever again. This action only allows more water into the bowl, which will overflow at some point. It’s only designed to hold one tank’s worth of water at a time.

Access the Tank

As the bowl fills with water, try to stop the flow by lifting the tank’s lid off of the toilet. Press the rubber valve into its seated position in the tank. This action alone stops the water from actively filling the bowl. It may still be overflowing, however. As you hold the rubber valve in place, another household member can soak up the water on the floor. Part of the battle has been won at this point.

Shut Off the Local Water Valve

Look just underneath the bowl’s base, and you’ll see a valve connected to the wall’s water supply. Shut the valve off. The water should immediately stop running into the bowl and tank. This valve controls the flow entering this toilet only. You’ll still be able to use other fixtures in the home until you figure out this toilet’s issue. Let go of the tank’s rubber flapper if you’re still holding it at this point.

Remove Some of the Water

With the flow temporarily stopped, take this moment to remove some of the water from the toilet. Use a bucket, large bowl or other container to dip into the toilet. Pull on some gloves if you feel inclined to do so. Removing some of the water allows you to see more clearly into the bowl. A simple clog might be visible at this point. Remove any solid items from the water too.

Plunge the Clog Away

Grab your plunger, and use its suction on the tank. The water level should be low enough at this point to give the plunger room for the motion. Pay attention to the remaining water level after each plunge. You may unclog the drain, which allows the water to quickly flow out of the bowl. When you’re sure that water is flowing out of the bowl, add more water to the tank. Flush the toilet to verify the repair’s success.

One caveat to this scenario is when multiple toilets in the same household have a simultaneous, overflow situation. In most cases, the overflow isn’t caused by an isolated clog. Your plumbing system has a failure somewhere down the line where the water enters the structure. Call a plumbing professional after turning off the water to the entire house in this case. You’ll need a more complex analysis of the overflow before using the toilets again.

Charlie Teschner started MESA Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to tasks such as Longmont, CO heating repair.