A toilet overflowing is not an uncommon emergency plumbing phenomena. What is usually annoying with it is that it seems to happen at the most inopportune moments. For most people, watching their toilet water slowly rising to the brim usually causes a lot of anxiety, particularly if they have no idea on how to deal with it. Most toilet overflows are as a result of error the tank float mechanism or drain blockage. Do you know that dealing with such problems is very simple if you have the proper tools at arm’s reach? But how do you make sure that you are prepared for the worst? These are the key emergency measures:
Stop it at The Source
The first thing that you should do is cutting off the water supply into the bowl. All bathrooms are designed with a water supply that can be seen on the wall. You will easily identify the main shutoff valve on the wall. Turn it off to stop the supply. In rare cases, the main valve might be hidden behind the wall or tiles. In such cases, talk with a plumber to modify the system so as to provide this access in the future.
For the meantime, if the main shutoff valve is inaccessible, toilet valve should be the next option. Closing it will stop the bowl from filling and grant you time to clear the clog. Sometimes, these valves can get sticky since they usually stay open for years. By opening and closing it anytime you are in the bathroom can help in preventing it from sticking when you need it the most.
Remove the Tank Cover
If you cannot get the shutoff valve to stop the water flowing into the bowl, the next stop should be the inside of the toilet tank. The mechanism inside the tank can be the solution to stopping water flow. Remove the lid carefully. First, you need to check the position of the flapper (the rubber disk covering the hole at the bottom of the water tank). If it is open, close it manually to stop water flow. If the flapper does not stop water from flowing, lift the float ball manually to shut off the supply completely. Devise a way of keeping the float ball in this position, particularly if you are alone at home. This will give you time to deal with the clog.
Use a Plunger to Clear Clogs
In most cases, toilet clog is caused by the presence of the foreign objects. They prevent the toilet from flushing normally. Grab some rubber gloves and try to remove them by hand. If this does not work, try the toilet plunger to plunge them freely. Make sure that you have aligned the rubber cup of the plunger over the bowl’s centre and apply downward pressure. Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity to dislodge the objects. The force applied should be enough to remove the clogs away. Sometimes, a sink plunger could also work though it may not be effective as the toilet plunger.
Try an Auger
If the plunger fails to remove the clog, try a toilet auger or what is popularly referred to as the plumbing snake. It is a flexible coil of wire that can maneuver the curves in the piping and clear blocked drains. With a closet auger (specially designed for toilet clogs), push it further down the drain until you feel an obstruction. Twist and push it so as to break the obstruction into small pieces and then flush the toilet. If it drains quickly as normal, then you are done with unclogging. If not, repeat the process till the obstruction is removed.
If you have tried the plunger and the auger to no avail, the next option should be a wet/dry vacuum. If you don’t have one, hire it. Use it to empty the water out of the bowl. Make sure that the bowl is free of water and any other debris. This will make easy to vacuum out the obstruction. With the bowl cleared, place the hose into the drain and seal it with a towel or clothing. Turn on the vacuum while making sure that one hand is pressuring the towel to create a good seal if you are alone. There’s good chance that the clog will be sucked out by the vacuum. Note that this is not an ordinary vacuum cleaner- it must wet/dry vacuum.
Pour Hot Water or Chemical Dry Cleaner
These are two do-it-yourself measures that you take to deal with simple toilet clogs. Hot water is an excellent homemade drain cleaner that can help a lot in clearing organic clogs. Make sure that you have boiled the water hot and avoid pouring it from near the rim but from the waist level. The falling water force should be enough to clear the clog. You can leave the water to work on the clog overnight. For chemical dry cleaner, you can purchase at the nearby grocery. But it should be the last resort after trying everything to no avail.
Use a Wire Coat Hanger
If you lack any of the tools mentioned above, you can make use of your wire coat hanger. Straighten it and wrap the sharp end with a rag to protect porcelain from damages. You can use duct tape to keep the rug in place. Once you have stuck the wrapped end into the drain, twist, push and maneuver it in a circular motion to break up the clog into small pieces. Keep doing this until the toilet can flush normally. But this method will only work for you if the clog or the obstruction is just a few into the drain.
These are the primary measure that you can take when your toilet is overflowing. With these emergency protocols or measures, you can easily fix the problem by yourself. Most of the time, the overflow is caused by a small blockage that can be cleared by a single plunger push or a bucket of hot water. Before you think of calling a plumber, make sure that you try them. It could save you a lot of money.