What to do when your toilet overflows?

One of the most common emergencies we encounter as a water damage restoration company are toilet overflows, also known as “sewer backups.”

There’s nothing pretty about it, and when you encounter it, it’s often too late already.

Diagnosing the cause of the overflow and dealing with it is definitely a job for a professional. However, there are several steps you can take to minimize the damage and stop the overflow.

STOP THE FLOW OF SEWAGE immediately with the following steps:

  1. Immediately remove the toilet tank lid – set it aside carefully, don’t knock it on the floor.
  2. Don’t waste time moving towels and such to soak up the water — stopping the overflow is the top priority!
  3. Reach inside the toilet tank and push down the flapper valve (rubber valve in the center of the bottom of the toilet tank) that lets the tank empty water into the toilet bowl. This will halt water entering the toilet bowl from the toilet tank. Don’t worry: the water in the toilet tank is just water — the water in the toilet bowl is sewage.
  4. Lift the float that operates the toilet tank fill valve. This will halt the filling up of the toilet tank.
    1. If the water level in the toilet bowl slowly drops after you perform the above steps, just keep on holding the toilet tank float up in its highest position until the water level returns to normal.
    2. If, on the other hand, the water level in the toilet bowl doesn’t drop, continue to hold up the toilet tank float while you close the water supply valve — it should be near the floor or at the wall behind the toilet.
  5. If the water supply valve is hard to turn do not force it. It could break and leave you with a terrible supply leak on top of your overflow problem.
  6. If you can’t close or locate the water fill valve, remove the little flexible rubber or plastic tube that is sending water into the toilet bowl through the vertical standpipe.

Congratulations, you halted your toilet overflow!

Now is the time to call a professional company to clean up any sewage, identify and remedy the root cause of the overflow. It might be a blocked drain or pipe in your own home, a blocked main drain, a non-functional sewage ejector/septic pump or even a problem with your septic tank.

Whatever it is, rest assured, we’ll be able to fix it!