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How to Fix an Overflowing Toilet


Quick Fixes for an Overflowing Toilet

Overflowing toilets can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare. In those frantic moments, knowing what to do can save your day, and your floors.

How do you quickly stop a toilet bowl from overflowing?

Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Services is here to help you navigate this common household crisis.

If you need plumbing help in Kelowna, Lake Country, or Vernon, BC give Roto-Rooter a call at 778-760-3792. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Section 1: Immediate Actions for An Overflowing Toilet

When the water level rises in a clogged toilet bowl, it’s time for quick thinking.

  • Turn Off the Toilet’s Water Supply Valve: Locate the small fill toilet valve and shut off the water supply. This is usually located on the wall left of the toilet. Avoid flushing again.

  • Close the Flapper: Open the toilet tank lid, find the rubber flapper, and push it closed to stop further water flow into the bowl.

  • Secure the Float: Ensure the float ball can’t move, preventing further water from filling the tank.


Section 2: Managing the Aftermath

Once you’ve stopped the overflow, it’s time to clean up.

  • Remove Excess Water: Use a cup, bucket, or wet vacuum to clear excess water.

  • Dry the Floors: Swiftly dry the area to prevent water damage with paper towel, old towels or rags.

  • Handle Waste and Decontaminate: If necessary, wear gloves to dispose of any waste and disinfect surfaces touched by toilet water.


Section 3: Dealing with the Blockage

Now that you’ve controlled the situation, let’s tackle the toilet clog.

Here are the 3 best ways to outsmart stubborn toilet clogs. We’ve got the ‘Soap and Hot Water Magic,’ the ‘Plunger Power Hour,’ and the ‘Snake Charmer Spectacular.’


Using Soap and Hot Water

Learn how to use soap and hot water to dislodge a clog effectively.

  1. Open the Toilet Tank. Carefully lift the lid off your toilet’s tank and place it aside.

  2. Add Liquid Soap. Pour approximately 60mL (1/4 cup) of liquid soap directly into the toilet bowl. A dish soap with grease-cutting properties like Dawn Ultra works best to break down toilet clogs. In an emergency, you can also use hand soap or shampoo.

  3. Pour Hot Water. Pour about 4 litres (1 US gallon) of hot water into the bowl. The water should be hot but not boiling. You can use hot tap water or heat a pot of water on the stove if necessary. Pour the water from waist height to create some force. Be cautious not to use boiling water, as it may crack the porcelain and cause burns.

  4. Wait for the Soap to Work. Allow the soap and hot water mixture to sit for up to 30 minutes. During this time, the heat and the soap will work to break down the clog and help it move through the drain. If the water level begins to decrease during this time, it’s a sign that the method is working.

  5. Repeat if Necessary. If the water level in the toilet bowl doesn’t drop significantly or if it starts to rise, consider adding more soap and hot water. You can repeat this process several times as long as there’s enough room in the bowl. If you notice that the water is about to overflow, it’s best to wait and see if it clears on its own.

  6. Flush the Toilet. After waiting, if the water level in the bowl has decreased, you can try flushing the toilet. Flushing will force the water and the loosened clog down the drain. However, do this cautiously, as the toilet might still be at risk of overflowing.

This method is often effective for minor clogs caused by organic material.

If it doesn’t work or if you’re dealing with a stubborn clog, it may be necessary to use a plunger, a drain snake, or seek professional plumbing assistance. Always take safety precautions when dealing with toilet clogs and be prepared to call a plumber if needed.


Toilet Plunger Power Hour

Discover the right way to use a plunger, including how to create a seal and alternate between steady plunging and strong pushes.

  1. Prepare the Plunger. Ensure you have the right type of plunger, which is specifically designed for toilets and has a cup-shaped rubber end (rather than a flat one used for sinks). Make sure the plunger is clean.

  2. Fill the Bowl. If there isn’t already water in the toilet bowl, you’ll need to add some. You can do this by opening the toilet tank and lifting the flapper (the rubber valve at the bottom of the tank) to allow water to flow from the tank into the bowl. The bowl should be filled with enough water to cover the plunger cup.

  3. Create a Seal. To create a proper seal, place the plunger over the drain hole at the bottom of the toilet bowl. Make sure the entire plunger cup is submerged in water, and there’s no air trapped underneath. The plunger should fit snugly over the hole.

  4. Release Air. Before you start plunging, it’s essential to release any trapped air inside the plunger cup. This will prevent splashing. Push the plunger down gently to remove the air, and then pull it back up.

  5. Plunge Steadily. Start with steady and consistent plunging. Push the plunger down and pull it back up repeatedly, maintaining a controlled pace. This motion helps create pressure and suction inside the drain, which can dislodge the clog.

  6. Alternate with Strong Pushes. After a few steady plunges, you should alternate with stronger pushes. Every few strokes, apply more force by pushing the plunger down as forcefully as you can without breaking the seal. This sudden burst of pressure can help break up the clog or dislodge it.

  7. Maintain a Steady Rhythm. Continue the alternating process of steady plunging and strong pushes. The consistent movement of water in and out of the drain will work to break down the clog over time.

  8. Check for Progress. Periodically lift the plunger to check if the water is draining. If you notice that the water level in the bowl starts to decrease, this is a good sign that the clog is clearing. 

  9. Repeat as Needed. You may need to repeat the plunging process several times until the clog is completely cleared. Keep adding water to the bowl if necessary.

  10. Flush the Toilet. Once the clog is cleared and the water drains freely, you can flush the toilet to ensure it’s working correctly. Repeat flushing as needed to verify that the toilet is no longer clogged.


Using a Drain Snake or Toilet Auger

Understand the process of using a drain or toilet snake to tackle stubborn clogs.

  1. Prepare the Area. Begin by ensuring the area around the toilet is clear. Lay towels or rags on the floor to catch any water that may spill during the process. Place a bucket nearby to collect any debris or water removed from the drain.

  2. Wear Gloves. Put on a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands from any unsanitary contact.

  3. Extend the Drain Snake. Uncoiling the snake so you have enough length to reach the clog. You may need to adjust the length based on the depth of the clog.

  4. Insert the Toilet Snake. Carefully insert the coiled end into the toilet’s drain hole at the bottom of the bowl. Push it in gently but firmly to make contact with the clog. Slowly feed the snake into the drain while turning the handle clockwise. The turning motion will help the snake navigate through the pipes.

  5. Feel for Resistance. As you insert the plumbing snake, you will feel resistance when it encounters the clog. Continue to feed the snake until you can’t push it any further.

  6. Break Up the Clog. Once you’ve reached the clog, start turning the handle of the toilet snake counterclockwise. This motion will either break up the clog or hook onto it, allowing you to pull it out. Apply gentle but consistent pressure.

  7. Pull Out the Clog. If you’ve successfully hooked the clog, start retracting the snake while turning the handle clockwise. This will pull the clog out of the toilet drain. Be prepared to handle the clog and debris that may come out.

  8. Dispose of the Debris. Carefully place the removed clog and any other debris into the bucket. Be sure to dispose of it properly according to local regulations.

  9. Flush the Toilet. After successfully removing the clog, flush the toilet to ensure it’s draining properly. This will help clear any remaining debris from the pipes.

  10. Clean the Drain Snake. Rinse and clean the snake thoroughly before storing it. You can use hot water and disinfectant to ensure it’s sanitary for future use.

  11. Final Cleanup. Clean up the area around the toilet, including any water or mess that may have been generated during the process. Dispose of any towels or rags used, and don’t forget to wash your hands.

How to Prevent Clogs If You’re on a Septic System

Preventing toilet clogs when you’re on a septic system is vital to maintaining a healthy and trouble-free plumbing setup. Here are some key steps to help you avoid clogs and protect your septic tank system:

  1. Use Septic-Safe Toilet Paper: Choose toilet paper that is septic-safe and breaks down easily to prevent buildup in your system.

  2. Avoid Using Too Much Toilet Paper: Using excessive amounts of TP can lead to a clogged toilet drain.

  3. Avoid Non-Flushable Items: Never flush non-flushable items like tampons, condoms, paper towels, and cat litter. These can lead to a clogged drain, blockages, a flooding toilet, and damage to your septic system.

  4. Regular Maintenance: Schedule routine septic tank inspections and pumping as recommended by professionals to prevent overflows and backups.

  5. Monitor Water Usage: Be mindful of your water usage. Excessive water can put extra stress on your septic system and potentially lead to issues.

  6. Educate Household Members: Ensure everyone in your household knows the dos and don’ts of septic system care to minimize the risk of clogs, toilet overflows, and damage.

  7. Prevent Sewer Line Blockage: Blocked sewer lines are a common cause of overflowing toilets and can lead to significant inconvenience and potential damage if not addressed promptly. Some of the most common causes of blocked sewer lines are foreign objects, tree roots, grease buildup, and collapsed pipes. To avoid this unpleasant situation, conduct regular maintenance of your sewer lines to keep them flowing smoothly.

  8. Maintain Your Vent Pipe: A blocked vent pipe can obstruct proper air flow and ventilation, leading to drainage issues and slow flushing in toilets. This blockage can cause gurgling noises from drains and increased pressure within the plumbing system, exacerbating clogs. Clearing the obstruction, typically by removing debris from the vent pipe on the roof, is necessary to restore proper function and prevent further plumbing problems.


Get Expert Help from Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Services

A clogged and overflowing toilet doesn’t have to ruin your day.

With the right knowledge and quick actions, you can manage the situation efficiently.

If your toilet is overflowing, Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Services is here to provide help whenever you need it. Our West Kelowna, Kelowna, and Vernon plumbing team is available 24/7.

If you need expert assistance from a professional plumber, give us a call or book online.