We’ve all been there. You flush the toilet expecting the bowl to empty nicely. This time, the water doesn’t go down. It rises and rises. You know what is happening, but you don’t know how to stop it from overflowing. Eventually, the water flows over the top of the bowl spreading waste all over your beautiful bathroom floor.
How could you have prevented this catastrophe? No matter what caused the clogged toilet leading to the overflow, there are a number of things you can do to stop a toilet from overflowing – without getting dirty.
Stop Toilet Overflowing
Toilet Shutoff Valve
The most effective way to stop a toilet from overflowing is to cut off the supply of water to the toilet. There’s a small hand-crank valve near the bottom of your toilet where the main water line leaves your toilet and heads into the wall or floor.
When you notice the water starting to rise, there’s no time to waste. Check for the valve behind your toilet near the floor. Give it a hard twist and the water should stop flowing in a few seconds.
If you don’t see the valve, fire your old plumber. The valve is probably hidden inside the wall or floor to make the bathroom look cleaner and modern. That won’t help you though. Consider a small bathroom remodel to move the valve to a more accessible location.
Go ahead and test your toilet valve right now. Does it work? Or was it too sticky to move?
It would be no surprise if it was stuck. Toilet valves often sit open for years untouched. Over time, they become sticky and refuse to move when the time comes.
To avoid a stuck valve, give it a turn every time you clean the bathroom. If it doesn’t turn, spray it with some lubricant to work out the gunk. This will ensure your valve is ready when it’s time to shine.
Toilet Tank Flapper
If your valve is stuck shut or you can’t reach it, you have a few other options. These aren’t as foolproof as the valve, but they can work in a pinch.
First, take the lid off the tank and check to see if the flapper (the rubber disc cover the hole at the bottom of the tank) is open or closed.
If it’s open, simply hold it shut with your fingers until the water stop running. This isn’t a permanent fix. You will still need to unclog the toilet before releasing the flapper. Don’t worry. The water in the tank is clean.
Toilet Tank Float Ball
If the toilet flapper is damaged, stuck, or blocked, it’s time to move on to option 3. For this trick, you will need the float ball, which is the rubber balloon-like object in the toilet tank.
The float ball tells the toilet when to stop filling the bowl with water. The toilet fills the tank with water, then when you flush the toilet, the water empties out of the tank and into the bowl. When the tank is empty, the float ball is at the bottom of the tank, which triggers the tank to fill with water again. When the float ball reaches the top of the tank, it stops filling. If the flapper is stuck open, the water will continuously flow into the toilet.
To trick the toilet to stop trying to fill the tank, lift the float ball to the top of the tank. Don’t worry. The water in the tank is clean. This won’t stop the water that is already flowing to the toilet, but it will stop new water from entering the toilet bowl.
You will need to prop the float ball up or ask someone to hold it for you while you work on shutting the toilet valve, unclogging the toilet, or fixing the flapper.
Call a Plumber
After you have stopped the water, even temporarily, it’s time to clear the clog. A simple plunger will suffice for this part of the job. If you don’t have a plunger or can’t clear the clog yourself, it’s time to call a plumber.