Dealing with an overflowing toilet is never pleasant, but it always seems to happen at the most unexpected and inconvenient time. We really don't care what caused the toilet to overflow (although this information is always helpful for future reference) because time is of the essence in this situation, and we just want to stop the immediate problem as quickly as possible. But let's first look at possible causes anyway so that you will be able to prevent this headache in the future. This is easier than you might think. Either your trap, drain, or bowl is partially or completely clogged. So what are signs that your bowl might be clogged?
- Toilet won't drain properly
- Toilet doesn't flush
- Toilet overflows
- Toilet partially flushes
To immediately stop your toilet from overflowing:
1. Take off your tank lid. In your haste, remember to gently place the lid across the toilet bowl so that it won't drop and break.
2. Reach inside the tank and push down on the flapper valve. This will stop the tank from emptying any more water into the toilet bowl. The flapper valve is rubber and is usually located in the center at the bottom of the toilet tank. And don't worry, the water in the tank is sanitary so don't be afraid to put your hand in the water to reach the valve.
3. Lift up the float that operates the toilet tank fill valve. This will prevent the toilet bowl from filling up with more water because water will stop entering the tank from the toilet supply line. Note that the flapper located at the bottom of the tank will be shut.
You see the water level in the toilet bowl slowly dropping, continue holding the toilet tank float up in the highest position. This will ensure that no more water will flow into the tank or toilet bowl. If after a couple of minutes the water level has returned to normal, you can release the toilet tank float. The tank and bowl will refill without overflowing.
You see the water level in the toilet tank is not dropping after a couple of minutes, continue to hold the float up and close the toilet supply valve that is located near the floor or behind the toilet by turning it. You may need someone else to assist you in closing the valve so that you can continue holding the float up. Don't force the toilet supply valve if you can't turn it or the valve may break and result in a major leak.
You can't close the valve or if you don't see the valve, remove the small tube that is sending water through the vertical standpipe. This tube is plastic or rubber. Lift up on the tube and aim it into the toilet tank. At this point you will be able to let the float drop and allow the toilet tank to fill. Once the toilet tank has filled, you can clip the tube back in place and you shouldn't have to worry about your toilet bowl overflowing. Try to remember that if you find yourself in this situation that it happens to everyone from time to time. At least now you know how to stop your toilet from overflowing and can possibly help out a friend in the future should they happen to deal with the same problem.