An overflowing toilet is an inconvenience at best – and a health hazard with the potential for property damage at worst. That said, clogged toilets are a common occurrence that don’t necessarily need to send homeowners scurrying to find “plumbers near me,” since they can often be fixed relatively easily.
How a Toilet Works
Everyone knows what a toilet is, but many do not fully understand how it works.
A toilet consists of two main parts: the bowl and the tank. The bowl is where the waste is collected, and the tank is where the water is stored that is used to flush the waste away.
There are two main types of toilets:
- Gravity flush toilets are the most common type of toilet and they work by using the force of gravity to flush the waste away.
- Pressure flush toilets use a pump to create pressure that flushes the waste away.
To flush a gravity flush toilet, you first push down on the flush handle. This lifts the flapper valve in the tank, which allows the water to rush into the bowl. The water in the bowl then rises up and over the weir, which is the curved lip at the top of the bowl. As the water rises, it creates a siphon effect that pulls the waste and water down into the trapway and out to the sewer.
The trapway is a curved pipe that is located at the bottom of the bowl. It is filled with water, which creates a seal that prevents sewer gases from entering the bathroom. When the toilet is flushed, the water in the trapway is also flushed away, but the trapway itself remains full of water, which maintains the seal.
Once the water in the tank is empty, the flapper valve closes and the fill valve opens. The fill valve allows water to flow back into the tank until it reaches a certain level. Once the tank is full, the fill valve closes and the toilet is ready to be flushed again.
What to Do When the Toilet Is Overflowing
When faced with the dreaded scenario of an overflowing toilet, it’s crucial to act swiftly to prevent a messy and potentially damaging situation. Whether you’re at home, at a friend’s place, or in a public restroom, here are the steps to take when the toilet is overflowing.
1.Turn off the Water Supply
Locate the water supply valve behind or beside the toilet. Turn it clockwise to shut off the water flow to the toilet tank. This step is crucial in stopping the overflow at its source.
2.Remove the Tank Lid
Gently lift the toilet tank lid and set it aside on a flat surface. This will give you access to the inside of the tank.
3.Check the Flapper Valve
Inside the tank, you’ll find a rubber flapper valve at the bottom. If it’s stuck in the open position, carefully push it back into place. This can often be the cause of an overflow.
4.Use a Plunger
If the water level doesn’t start to recede after checking the flapper valve, it’s time to grab a plunger. Place the plunger over the drain hole at the bottom of the toilet bowl, ensuring a tight seal. Then, vigorously push and pull the plunger to create suction and dislodge any blockages.
5.If Necessary, Stop the Water Flow
If the toilet continues to overflow, it’s essential to stop the water flow completely. Lift the float ball or cup (depending on your toilet’s design) to stop water from filling the tank.
6.Contain the Water
If the water level remains high, you can prevent further damage by quickly removing excess water from the bowl using a bucket or a plastic container. Dispose of the water in a sink or bathtub.
Once the water level has gone down and the overflow is under control, use towels or rags to clean up any water that may have spilled onto the floor. Be thorough to prevent water damage and slipping hazards.
8.Check for Underlying Issues
After the immediate problem is resolved, it’s a good idea to investigate why the toilet overflowed in the first place. It could be due to a clog, a malfunctioning float valve, or a problem with the plumbing. Address any underlying issues to prevent future overflows.
9.Restore Water Supply
Once everything is clean and dry, turn the water supply valve back on by turning it counterclockwise. Allow the toilet tank to fill up, and check for any leaks or unusual noises.
10.Test the Flush
Finally, flush the toilet to ensure that it’s working properly and that water flows smoothly without any signs of a backup.
Dealing with an overflowing toilet requires a calm and methodical approach. By following these steps, you can quickly resolve the issue and minimize any potential damage. Remember that if the problem persists or if you’re unsure about how to handle it, it’s best to contact a professional plumber for assistance.
How to Prevent Your Toilet From Overflowing
There are a few things you can do to prevent your toilet from overflowing:
- Avoid putting anything other than toilet paper down the toilet. This includes things like baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, and paper towels.
- Have your toilet inspected and cleaned by a plumber regularly. This will help to identify any potential problems before they cause an overflow.
- Install a toilet overflow alarm. This device will sound an alarm if the water level in the tank gets too high.
You can learn more about preventing toilet overflows in the article ‘10 Reasons Your Toilet Keeps Clogging.’
- If the water is overflowing from the toilet tank, it is likely that the flapper valve is not closing properly. You can try to fix this by adjusting the flapper valve or by replacing it altogether.
- If you can’t shut off the water valve to the toilet, you will need to call a plumber.
- If you have a clog that won’t clear with a plunger or toilet auger, you will also need to call a plumber.
- To clean and disinfect a flooded bathroom, you should use a disinfectant cleaner and a mop to clean the floors and walls. You should also be sure to wear gloves and eye protection when cleaning up the flood.
- To prevent water damage from an overflowing toilet, you should have a plumber install a toilet overflow drain. This drain will allow the water to flow out of the bathroom if the toilet overflows.
Stronghold Plumbing In & Near Lakeland
As a licensed Florida plumbing company, Stronghold is who to call when you need plumbers in and near Lakeland. Whether it’s dealing with the toilet water rising to worrisome levels or any other plumbing services, our team of experienced plumbers are standing by to help.
FAQ’s – Overflowing Toilets
What are the common causes of overflowing toilets?
The most common causes of overflowing toilets are clogs, faulty flapper valves, or malfunctioning float valves.
What should I do if my toilet is overflowing?
If your toilet is overflowing, the first step is to turn off the water supply to prevent any further damage. Remove the tank lid and check the flapper valve for any blockages. Use a plunger to dislodge the clog and contain any excess water. If necessary, stop the water flow by lifting the float valve and then clean up the water with towels or rags. Finally, restore the water supply and test flush it to make sure everything is working properly.
How can I prevent overflowing toilets?
To prevent overflowing toilets, it is important to avoid putting anything other than toilet paper down the drain. It’s also beneficial to have your toilet inspected and cleaned regularly by a plumber and to install an overflow alarm. Finally, ensure that the flapper valve is functioning properly and that the float valve isn’t stuck in the open position.
Who should I call if I need help with an overflowing toilet?
If the issue persists or you’re unsure about how to handle it, it’s best to contact a professional plumber. At Stronghold Plumbing, we provide plumbing services in and near Lakeland. Contact us today for free estimates or plumbing assistance.