One of the most annoying plumbing problems that many people encounter is an overflowing toilet. Let’s face it, outside of the kitchen, our bathrooms are the hardest working areas in our homes, and we rely on our toilets to work and flush as intended. Sometimes, a toilet will overflow, which can lead to raw sewage coming back into your home. Fortunately, this can be prevented if you have a little advance knowledge, and you act quickly when a toilet overflow occurs. In this article, we have three tips that should help you prevent your overflowing toilet from causing water damage.
- Locate the Shut Off Valve
When a toilet is overflowing, the first thing that you need to do is to shut the water off at the source. The last thing you need in an emergency is searching for something because you have no idea where it is located. So, it’s a good idea to find your shut off valve beforehand, and then you can act quickly if you need to shut the water supply off in a hurry. The shut off valve can be found by following the water pipe that connects from the bathroom wall down to your toilet. There is usually a hand crack somewhere along this line, and it’s often located closer to the ceiling but within reach.
If this shut off valve is closed, it will prevent any water from reaching your toilet. This will give you more time to clear a clog if the toilet overflow is severe and help to minimize water damage in your home. It’s a good idea to check the shut off valve regularly to make sure that it will turn when you need it. Many people ignore their shut off valves, they are not kept clean or lubricated, and in some cases, they jam, and the water continues to flow. Take a proactive approach and make sure that your shut off valve turns easily.
- The Toilet Tank
If you cannot reach the shut off valve or it has jammed, you need to check inside the toilet tank. Lift off the toilet tank lid, carefully set it aside to avoid damage, and take a look inside. You need to locate a rubber part, which is known as the toilet flapper, and it can be found down at the bottom of the toilet tank. If the toilet flapper is open, you can reach in, take hold of it gently, close it, and this should stop the flow of water to the toilet tank.
If the toilet flapper is closed and yet the water is still flowing look for a float ball. A float ball is a part that floats on the top of the water in the toilet tank, and it moves with the height of the water surface. It is designed to turn the water off when it gets too high to prevent overflowing. If you manually lift the float ball, it may shut off the water supply to your toilet.
- Clearing a Toilet Clog
Many people use chemical drain cleaners, but these can damage your plumbing pipes, so they are not recommended. Every professional plumber removes a drain clog manually. There are a variety of methods depending on the situation. The best way to remove a toilet clog is with a cup plunger, but many people don’t own the correct model.
Most of us have a classic cup plunger that you can use on a tub or kitchen sink drain. A toilet plunger has a very similar appearance, but if you look closely inside the cup section, you will notice a rubber flap or flange that runs around the rim. The flange allows the toilet plunger to be used on an uneven surface, unlike a classic cup plunger that works best on a flat surface only. To use the toilet plunger, simply place it over the drain, move it up and down gently, and the change in pressure may remove the clog. In most cases, when the clog is removed, the toilet will begin to drain correctly, but only if the clog is fully removed.
3 Overflowing Toilet Mistakes to Avoid
Here are three mistakes that you must avoid when the toilet is overflowing, or you could make the problem much worse.
- Flushing the Toilet
If you flush the toilet, you will simply increase the volume of water, and this will inevitably lead to more water damage.
- Interfering with Pipes
Some people attempt to inspect or remove pipes that are connected to their toilets in an attempt to “fix” the problem. In many cases, this simply makes the problem worse because they open the wrong pipe.
- Adding Chemical Cleaners
Don’t place chemicals cleaning products in an overflowing toilet because you may damage your plumbing system. If you cannot clear the clog with a toilet plunger, it’s time to call a local professional plumber.
Adopting a Preventative Approach
One of the best ways to avoid a toilet clog in the first place is to adopt a preventative approach. Many people flush items in their toilets that can cause a clog to occur. In some cases, this can happen quickly, or it may take time, and this is determined by the material flushed and the state of your drain. A toilet is designed to handle human waste and toilet paper and flushing anything else is a risk. Avoid using any type of “flushable wipes” because they can become trapped in the drain and form a clog. Other items, such as disposable diapers, kitchen paper, napkins, floss, feminine hygiene products, and other items, need to go in the trash where they belong.
Contact a Professional Plumber
If you cannot clear a clog, it’s time to contact your local professional plumber. They have the skills, experience, and specialized tools to manually clear the clog without damaging your plumbing system. If your toilet is malfunctioning they can recommend a suitable replacement to get your home back to normal quickly.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution