You flush the toilet and water goes everywhere, causing a panic. Your first thought after you've calmed down is to call the plumber, but you remember it's the weekend or a holiday. A toilet overflow doesn't have to ruin your day. Just take a deep breath, and follow these tips to fix an emergency toilet overflow.

Gather Supplies

For this project, you will need:

  • mop
  • bucket
  • small cup
  • rubber gloves
  • wired coat hanger
  • cloth
  • auger (plumbing snake)
  • plunger 

Stop The Flooding

Lift the toilet tank lid, and press the flapper down to keep more water from entering the bowl and to stop sewage from spilling on the floor. The flapper is the rubber device in the center bottom of the tank. Toilet tank water isn't dirty, so you can touch it with bare hands.

Raise the float cup or float ball as high as possible to slow down the rising water. The float mechanism level is usually controlled by a clip or switch. Keep holding it up until the water recedes, and if the water starts dropping, release the float, and allow the toilet to refill as normal. If the water doesn't stop after a minute or two, turn off the main water supply to the house, which is usually a knob close to your water heater.

Clean Up

Wearing rubber gloves, dip excess water from the brim of the bowl with a small cup, which allows you room to use a plunger. Pour clean water into the sink and dirty water in a bucket. Mop excess water from the floor, and flush dirty water down the toilet later when everything is working again. Disinfect everything that came in contact with the waste water with bleach.

Remove the Clog

A toilet that overflows after you flush is usually caused by a clog in the system, which can be remedied with a plunger and wired coat hanger or auger. Set the plunger over the toilet bowl hole, and plunge with slow pressure. Slowly increase pressure to release the blockage.

To find obstructions that cannot be released with a plunger, unbend a wired coat hanger, wrap one end of the hanger with a cloth to prevent scratches in the bowl. Insert the wrapped end of the hanger in the hole and feel for obstructions. Pull them out.

If the obstruction is out of reach of the coat hanger, you will need to use an auger, or snake. Run the auger as far down the toilet bowl hole as possible. inserting the tube end first; pull out obstructions. Adjust the float mechanism to sit lower so the tank part won't flood. Turn the water back on to test the toilet.

With quick thinking and action, you should be able to stop the toilet overflow. Sometimes, toilet overflows aren't caused by anything on your end but a problem in the municipality's sewer system. If you experience constant toilet overflows, call a plumber to find the cause. 

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