If there is one thing we can all rely on, it should be a toilet that is able to properly flush. Unfortunately, toilets can often clog and – to make matters worse – even overflow. Preventing the toilet water and its contents from spilling over onto your bathroom floor is possible, but only if you understand what to do and have the necessary tools within arm’s reach.
If your toilet is prone to clogs or you just want to be prepared, the following is the proper steps in the event of an overflow:
Stop the Overflow by Using the Main Shutoff Valve
If a toilet is overflowing for any reason, the most important thing to do is stop the flow of water into the bowl by using the toilet’s main shutoff valve. Look for the water line leading from your bathroom wall to the toilet and you may notice hand-crank valve along the line somewhere.
Closing the valve when an overflow is imminent will stop the bowl from filling and provide ample time to clear the clog. However, since this valve is often open, typically for years, it can be sticky or rusty, making it difficult to turn. Be proactive and give your shutoff valve a couple of turns back and forth to see if it works properly, spraying lubricant if necessary.
If you can’t locate the valve, it might be hidden behind floor tiles or the wall. If this is the case, then you must contact a plumber and discuss modification options to provide this type of access to the valve.
If you cannot get the shutoff valve to budge while your toilet is overflowing, the next step is to take a look inside of the toilet tank. Carefully remove the lid and set it aside and check the flapper (hinged rubber disc veering a hole at the bottom of the tank).
If the flapper is not open, or if it will not stay closed manually, locate the float ball. If you lift the float ball to the top of the tank, the water will shut off.
However, this can be challenging if not one is home to offer their assistance. If lowering the float ball results in water continuing to flow into the bowl, you may need to prop the float ball up.
Clear the Clog
Once the overflow has been prevented, clearing the clog is the final step. If you have a plunger, especially one with a toilet flange, that should be used. If you do not have one, pick one up immediately in the event of an emergency.