There are a few possible plumbing issues in your home or building that may require both immediate action and some long-term care approaches, and a good example here is a concern no one wants to deal with: A toilet that’s overflowing water. There are some early steps you should take here to prevent immediate risks like flooding and water damage, but once you’ve managed to stop the actual overflowing from happening, there are also a few general steps – including those involving professional plumbers – that are required to fully remedy the situation.
At Action Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric, we’re here to help. We offer not only a wide range of toilet repair services from the best plumbers in Salt Lake City, but also 24/7 emergency plumbing services in cases of toilet overflow or other forms of water damage you’re having trouble mitigating. Whether on your own or with the assistance of our plumbers, what are the basic steps to stopping a toilet that’s overflowing, plus what should you do once you’ve managed to stop the overflow effect? Here’s a primer.
Before we dig into the specifics here, we wanted to drive home one big theme: Immediate action is very important when you notice an overflow toilet. This is not an issue that can be left until later, as it risks major flooding and water damage in both the bathroom where the toilet is located and the rest of your home, particularly the areas below that bathroom.
The first step to take when a toilet is overflowing is to carefully remove the toilet lid from the tank. This requires no screwdrivers or nails – all you have to do is lift it up. Simply set it aside in a secured location, but don’t worry about laying it down on towels or any other laborious process, as this will just waste time.
Next up, you need to reach down into the toilet tank and press down on the flapper valve. This refers to a rubber piece, usually black or dark-colored, that sits in the bottom-center of your tank. The flapper is what opens and closes to allow water into the bowl – by holding it down, you will be stopping more water from entering and, therefore, overflowing.
Some choose to wear gloves while doing this, but this technically isn’t really necessary. While it’s true that sanitation is always important around the toilet, the upper toilet tank contains clean, sanitary water that has not been exposed to any human waste.
Tank Fill Valve
From here, once your flapper valve is secured and will stay closed, you need to lift up on the float that operates what’s known as your tank fill valve. This is the main water supply to the tank itself, and the water levels inside your bowl will change in coordination with this feature. When this water source is cut off, the bowl should begin to see a slow drop in water level.
If this happens within 60 seconds or so, you can usually release the tank fill valve float and let the bowl refill naturally – the issue is usually solved here. However, in other cases, the water level will not drop here; in this case, you need to continue to hold the float while you use the toilet supply valve – which is near the floor or the wall behind the toilet – to completely turn off the water supply. This is done by turning the toilet supply valve as far as you can clockwise. You may need someone to help you with this, as some toilet supply valves will be far enough away that you won’t be able to twist them while also holding down the float.
Actions Once Toilet Stops Overflowing
Once you’ve managed to get the toilet to stop overflowing, meaning you’ve mitigated the immediate flooding and water damage risks that were present, you can move toward diagnosing the actual issue that caused the overflow to begin with. Again, this is often a concern where homeowners will call on our plumbers to assist them with – but if you’re particularly handy and want to take a shot at this process yourself, here are some basic areas to attend to:
- First and foremost, stop the use of all plumbing fixtures (sinks, toilets, laundry machines, etc.) while you look to diagnose the issue. You may have solved the flooding concern in the toilet in question, but it’s possible the larger culprit that caused it is still present within your system. Let everyone in the home know they should not use any fixtures for now.
- One of the most common issues that may cause this sort of overflowing is a blockage somewhere in the drain – for this reason, a first step here is to use a plunger or drain snake to attempt to clear the clog, especially if gurgling noises or other clear signs of a blockage are present.
- If a toilet clog is not the problem, start moving from fixture to fixture in the home. Start on your fixtures in the bathroom and then work your way upward in the home – if possible, have another person present to see if anything happens on the lower floors while you’re looking at upper-floor toilets and drains.
- In some cases where these initial methods aren’t solving the problem, you may have a backup in your system drain, a failing septic field, or other issues with your main sewer line. In these cases, you’ll need to contact our plumbers for a more involved remediation.
For more on how to remedy an overflowing toilet, or to learn about any of our plumbing or HVAC services in Salt Lake City, speak to the staff at Action Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric today.