Imagine flushing your toilet only to see the water level creep higher and higher. And then it finally happens—your toilet overflows and the end result leaves your bathroom an unsanitary mess. Situations like these warrant an emergency call to your trusted plumber. But as you wait for your plumber to arrive, there's plenty you can do to minimize the mess made by your overflowing toilet. Read on to learn how to handle your plumbing emergency while the professionals are on their way.
1. Turn Off the Tap
Cutting off your toilet's water supply should be the first step towards mitigating the mess. Otherwise, you'll quickly find your bathroom—and other parts of your home, for that matter—flooded with toilet water. Start by following the water line leading from underneath the toilet water tank. The water valve will be near the base of the toilet. Turn this valve counterclockwise until it stops. Closing the valve will stop the flow of water to the toilet.
2. Freeze That Float
If you can't get to the shutoff valve or if the valve itself is malfunctioning, there's another way to cut off your toilet's water flow. Lift the water tank cover and set it in a safe spot, then locate the float ball or float cup. Raising the float will stop the flow of water, but you'll need to rig up a way to keep the float raised.
3. Lower the Water Level
Once you've managed to stop the flow of water into your toilet, you can deal with the excess water inside the toilet bowl. If the water is clean, use a small cup to remove the excess and pour the water into the sink. If the water is dirty, pour it into a plastic bucket you're willing to sacrifice, preferably with a lid to hide the unsavory contents. You can pour the dirty water back into the toilet once it's unclogged or dump it into another toilet in your home that's not clogged up.
4. Break Out the Shop Vac
With the water stopped, you can now focus on cleaning up the mess left behind. Use paper towels to soak up small amounts of water. For larger spills, you'll need a wet/dry shop vacuum. Water-soaked carpets and area rugs should be cleaned and disinfected as quickly as possible. Don't forget to wear gloves while you're dealing with these waterlogged areas.
Once you're done, you can kick back and wait for your emergency plumber to pinpoint the cause of the overflow and take steps towards returning your toilet to normal.