What To Do When You Have a Toilet OverflowWe all have experienced the dread of watching a toilet slowly creep up to the top of the brim with water after flushing due to being clogged. Anxiety grows faster if the toilet is not only liquid if you know what I mean. Unexpected toilet overflows are typically a manageable occurrence and being aware and prepared of this inevitable and sometimes regular event can allow us to correct the problem before an overflow.
However there are situations that can result as a matter of a malfunctioning mechanism that will be beyond ones control if they are not home or aware it is happening. Sometimes a toilet overflow occurs when there is no blockage at all and if ones is not there to interfere with the free flowing water you are sure to have a flood damage emergency of monolithic proportions.
Rules of engagement when you have a toilet overflow
All toilets have a water line that supplies water to the toilet fresh water tank. When a toilet is overflowing from a mechanical malfunction you can immediately stop the water by shutting the water valve off. The valve is always behind the toilet and easy to locate. Often these valves are a bit hard to turn but you must use a bit of force if necessary in a clockwise manner till valve completely stops the flow of water.
Once you have shut off the water valve remove the tank lid and see how high the water is. If the water level is at the top your float is malfunctioning and it will need to be replaced. If the water level is low then slowly open the water valve back up and see if the float is capable of shutting the water off when it gets to several inches of the brim of tank. If it does not stop the water flow then again the float is bad and needs replacing.
Clogged toilet overflow
This is definitely the worse type of toilet overflow you will experience. If the toilet overflow is from a bunch of toilet paper the unsanitary level of waste water will be much less than the other. The other will be grossly contaminated and there will be bacterial and viral contamination that will be replete in the water. Once you have turned the water supply valve off put on a pair of protective disposable gloves and carefully remove the water with a disposable cup and place it in a bucket. Once you have lowered the water in the toilet to a level that will allow the use of a toilet plunger, attempt to remove the clog. Once you believe the toilet clog has been dislodged try flushing the toilet to see if the blockage has been completely removed and the toilet flushing normally. If it is, carefully pour the water in the bucket back into the toilet for safe disposal.
Proper use of a toilet plunger for a toilet overflow
Place the rubber cup of the toilet plunger directly over the center of the toilet hole and push the plunger into the hole of the bowl. As you apply downward pressure, also slowly go up and down with the plunger to create water movement and positive pressure great enough to remove the toilet clog.
Sometimes a plunger will not work but before calling a plumber you can try using a toilet auger to fish out foreign objects, toilet paper masses and trapped objects that a toilet plunger will not be successful with. Often when there are young children using the toilets small toys or small objects get accidently knocked into the toilet bowl and flushed.
Insert the tube end of the auger in the toilet as deep as possible while at the same time turning the auger gently at the same time. Once the auger feels as though it has caught something slowly pull the auger out of the hole. Hopefully you will remove the clog and the toilet with begin to flush with the water going down as usual.
Once you have done these corrective steps and success obtained it is important to consider having a plumber evaluate your toilet for parts replacement if toilet overflows or clogs become chronic. Recurring overflowing of waste water can be a sign of a sewer drain backup or drain clog. If you have a private septic tank, contact a plumbing company to flush your system before a major sewer backup occurs. Sometimes It is advisable to change out all inward components of the toilet every several years as these parts wear out and replacing them may prevent a toilet overflow.
Things that can help avoid a toilet overflow
Try using single-ply toilet paper instead of the thick cushiony double-ply. Thick toilet paper along with a healthy bowel movement can easily create a larger mass than can be sent through the toilet discharge drain.
Trying to flush the toilet before use of toilet paper can be a practice that helps avoid a toilet clog and the possibilities of a toilet overflow.
Buying a water alarm sensor at a hardware store and placing it behind the toilet can be helpful in letting you know if your toilet overflows before it does great water damage to your home. These battery operated alarms are very loud and will alert you in an event you have a toilet overflow.
Charles Bingham owner of Action Extraction flood restoration in Macomb MI says approximately 50% of all toilet overflow calls they get are from homeowners that were unaware it was happening. Installing a water alarm sensor will inform you of the toilet overflow and allow you to avert a major water damage disaster.
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