My Toilet is Overflowing. Now What?

open toilet

It’s happened to all of us. We expect to hear the sound of water being flushed down the toilet, but it never comes. Then the unnerving sight as water just slowly keeps creeping towards the rim of the bowl. We panic, say a thousand mini prayers, and simply hope that the water stops before making the ultimate plunge over the edge and soaking your floor.

An overflowing toilet can bring out the worst in us. Granted, yes it’s an emergency. But it’s one that can be handled. Sometimes easily.

Don’t worry. We will get through this.

For starters, stop flushing.
It’s almost our first instinct, but we have to resist. Seriously, stop flushing. Your toilet is clogged. Adding more water on top of the clogged water only results in one thing – more water. We don’t want that. So, don’t do that.

Stop it at the source
If your toilet is overflowing, then we want the water to stop. For many toilets, this is as easy as turning off the water supply either behind or to the side of the toilet. To turn it off, simply turn the shut off valve clockwise to stop the water from filling the tank and overflowing the toilet.

The Backup Plan
If you can’t find the shutoff valve, or if it’s just not cooperating, don’t panic.
We have another way.

Your next stop should be the inside of the toilet tank.
Carefully remove the lid and set it aside.

We’re looking for the flapper: it’s usually a hinged rubber disc covering a hole at the bottom of the tank. If the flapper is open, reach in and close it manually. This should stop the flow of water.

If the flapper is not open, then find the float ball. This is the component that floats on the surface of the water and stops the tank from filling at a certain level. If you manually lift the float ball to the top of the tank, the water will shut off.

It’s a waiting game
Ok. The hard part is over. We’ve stopped the water. Now before we can attack that clog, we have to wait for the water inside the bowl to recede.

If the water doesn’t recede, then you know that you have a pretty serious clog. Which means you may have to call in the reinforcements.

toilet in bathroomPlunge
Assuming a clog in the plumbing is your problem, a good plunge may fix the issue.  You may be thinking, I got this.

Believe it or not, many people do not know how to plunge properly. So, here’s a refresher on the proper steps:

  1. Place the plunger in the toilet. Let the water in the toilet flow over the head of the plunger. This creates a good seal between the toilet bowl and the plunger. If there isn’t enough water in the toilet to cover the head of the plunger, you’ll need to turn the water back on and flush the toilet. Once the toilet has been flushed, you’ll have to act quickly to prevent the bowl from overflowing again.
  2. Pump the plunger up and down rapidly about 6 times, then pull the plunger up quickly. Watch to see if the water level goes down.
  3. Repeat steps one and two until the toilet is flushing well.
  4. Try not to clog the toilet again.