toilet against black background

If Your Toilet Overflows, Do This

Contact Us

Few things are quite as panic-inducing as flushing the toilet, hearing an odd gurgle, and seeing the bowl’s water level rise. Everyone has clogged (or backed-up) a toilet at some point or another, but unfortunately, most people don’t know what to do if the dirty water starts overflowing.

If you have a flooding toilet on your hands, follow these steps to get the situation under control.


1. DO NOT flush again.

If water is rising in the bowl immediately after you’ve already flushed, that means a clog is blocking the water from moving through the toilet drain. If you flush again, there will be even more water that’s unable to make it past the clog, and you’ll end up with even more flooding from the toilet bowl.

2. Find the flapper inside the toilet tank.

Locate your flapper at the bottom of the tank. It will look like a rubber circle attached to a chain or metal lever.

3. Push the flapper closed.

When the flapper shuts and seals against the bottom of the tank, this will stop water from flowing into the bowl.

4. Find the toilet’s water shut-off valve (if it has one).

If your toilet has a water shut-off valve, it will be located outside the tank close to where the toilet connects to the wall.

5. Shut off the water at the valve. (Skip if there is no valve.)

Turn the water shut-off valve clockwise to prevent more water from entering your toilet.

6. Find the toilet’s float.

Look back inside the tank to locate the float. If it’s a float cup, it will have a cup-like shape, and the toilet’s cylindrical fill valve with be running through it vertically from the bottom of the tank. If it’s a float ball, it will look like a rubber egg or ball on a lever.

7. Tie or rig the float so that it won’t move around.

As long as the float stays in place, no additional water will fill the tank.


The next step is to remove the clog that’s causing the toilet or drain to back up. Put on some rubber gloves, and use a flange plunger to dislodge the blockage. If plunging the toilet will cause it to overflow or splash over the bowl’s sides, scoop out some of the water into a bucket first. Remember to create an airtight seal when using the plunger and plunge up and down for 10 to 20 seconds each time.

Is plunging not solving the problem? Contact our friendly plumbers at The Rooter Works Plumbing and Drains to clear the clog: (614) 412-3324.