Why Is My Toilet Overflowing? A Homeowner’s Nightmare – How to Handle It

Toilet Overflowing A Homeowner's Nightmare

πŸ’§ Toilet Overflowing? Here’s What To Do!

An overflowing toilet can come out of nowhere. One day, after flushing, your toilet will be refilling as usual, and you’ll think nothing of it – so far, so good.

But how the toilet refills don’t matter. It’s when it stops. Soon enough, you realize it’s continuing even longer than normal until… you’ve got an overflow!

We’ll explain what’s causing your toilet to overflow and how you can fix the problem with just some common tools and a little elbow grease.

πŸ’§ What Causes A Toilet To Overflow?

An overflowing toilet is almost always caused by a clog somewhere down the line, be it in the toilet drain or the sewer line.

When you have a clogged drain, whatever goes down can’t continue down the drain pipe. So instead of going down the drain, the water is forced back up and out of the toilet bowl. Okay then, a clogged drain leads to a toilet overflowing.

But what causes this clog in the first place?

❌ Using Too Much Toilet Paper

puppy with toilet paper

It’s not just a matter of personal preference. The amount of toilet paper you flush has a real impact on the state of your drains. When too much toilet paper is flushed at a time, it can easily get caught in the drain.

And as more paper and waste are flushed down, the greater the toilet clog will continue to grow. To avoid a clogged toilet, you should look to be conservative with the amount you use.

Though it depends from person to person, you likely don’t need to use more than 10 sheets at a time, especially if you have smaller pipes that are more susceptible to clogging.

❌ Flushing Non-Flushable Items

old toilet

No matter the situation, you should avoid using your toilet to eliminate non-toilet waste, or you could easily run into clogs. Toilets are only designed to handle toilet paper and human waste. Try to flush anything else, and your system won’t be able to manage it.

If you need to dispose of any non-flushable items, such as feminine products, cotton balls, diapers, flushable wipes (yes, we said it! They’re not actually flushable), or organic materials like food waste, cooking grease, or pet waste, you should use your normal bins.

❌ Sewer Line Blockages

sewer line clearing

You’re much more likely to have a clog if your sewer line is blocked at any point. We mentioned earlier that the clog could be at any point in the sewer line. It could be just below the toilet, at your septic tank (if you have one), or even in the sewers themselves.

As a result, the cause of the clog could be very far down your system and out of your control. You should check with your local municipality to see if there are any known blockages in your area.

❌ Blocked Vent Pipe

plumbing vent stacks

The thing that’s responsible for your toilet overflowing might not be your drain but your system’s vent pipe. Just as your toilet has pipes that go down the sewer line, it also has vents.

These release the gases produced by waste as it breaks down and passes through. If anything blocks these vents, then the gases won’t have anywhere to escape.

This can cause your toilet to stop working and lead to a vacuum forming in the drain pipe, which can seriously damage your plumbing system.

πŸ’§ How to Stop An Overflowing Toilet

🧰 Shut Off The Toilet’s Water Supply

toilet water supply hose

Before doing anything, your first step should be to turn off the water supply. This is for pretty obvious reasons. If your toilet is overflowing, continuing to supply it will lead to more difficulties and overflow.

There are a couple of different steps to turning off the water supply.

To start with, you’ll need to locate and shut off your toilet’s shut-off valve, which can be found near where the toilet tank connects to the wall. Once you’ve dealt with the shut-off valve, you need to remove the toilet tank cover.

Inside you should find the float ball, which looks like what it sounds like: a ballβ€”or maybe more like a rubber egg. You may have a modern toilet with a fill valve instead of a ball, but the principle remains the same. The float ball needs to be lifted as high as it can go.

By ensuring your float ball stays there, your system thinks the toilet is full, and soon enough, the water stops running.

🧰 Remove Excess Water From The Toilet Bowl

Full toilet bowl

Now that your toilet’s water supply is turned off, more water won’t run through your system. However, all the excess water created by the overflow is still there.

The most important thing to address first is the area surrounding the toilet. You should clean up all the water spillage on the bathroom floor with a towel or a mop, making sure not to leave any mold attracting standing water.

Now it’s time to work with the toilet itself.

To get the water level of your toilet bowl to a workable point, you’ll need to remove some of the toilet water. Using gloves, carefully remove the water from the toilet bowl with a small container and pour it into a bucket.

You’ll only need to remove water up to the halfway point of the bowl so that you won’t need too large a bucket.

🧰 Use a Plunger To Clear The Clog

Female plumber with a plunger

All the preliminary work is done, so it’s finally time for action. Well, nearly all the preliminary work. Before you start, we recommend putting on a pair of rubber gloves. The rubber gloves will protect your hands from splinters and stop them from getting dirty.

Place your toilet plunger directly over the drain and press firmly to create an airtight seal. With this seal in place, repeatedly push the plunger up and down around 15 to 20 times. If all goes to plan, the pressure created by the seal should be enough to clear your clog and stop your toilet from overflowing in the future.

🧰 Consider a Drain Snake

Toilet drain snake

If a plunger isn’t enough to clear your clog, you might need a more powerful solution. A drain snake, also known as a plumbing snake or a toilet auger, is a device that uses a long cable to deal with clogs. This cable, which has a pointed end, is slowly moved down your pipe and clears whatever lies in its path.

Drain snakes can be used to clear even the nastiest clog. There is an exception, however: if you have a septic tank, you’ll need a professional plumber to flush your system. Otherwise, you run a strong risk of damaging your septic tank and your septic system.

You can find drain snakes at your local hardware store like Lowes or Home Depot. If you only need to use it once, you’re much better off renting and returning it once you’re done.

πŸ“— Related Reading: What To Use To Unclog a Toilet. Your Homeowners Guide!

πŸ’§ Final Thoughts

Phyxter Approved Logo on Service Truck

There are a few lessons to be learned from toilet overflows. When you flush the toilet, flush properly by only flushing flushable items. Also, ensure your pipes and vents are unobstructed, or you’ll have to deal with a genuine inconvenience.

If you have a toilet overflow problem and want a more high-tech solution than baking soda and hot water, your best bet is to get Phyxter Home Services on the job.

Phyxter offers expert plumbing services in a variety of locations across North America.

Have any other plumbing issues and need some advice? Check out some of our other plumbing articles.

Russell Jones

Russell, a native Australian and VP of Operations at Phyxter Home Services, is also part-owner of Vernon Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical Services. When he's not busy with work projects and renovations, Russell enjoys putting his vast knowledge of home improvement to good use by sharing his tips and tricks.

About our blog

Phyxter (pronounced Fix-ter) is a national home services brand specializing in Residential HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing solutions.

Phyxter is laser-focused on writing the best articles and guides to empower homeowners to get the best out of their homes.

We hope you enjoy it!

Looking for something?

Join our Newsletter!