What To Do When Your Toilet Is Overflowing

People tend to experience a moment of panic when their toilet begins to overflow. Knowing how to stop a toilet from overflowing can help prevent a disgusting mess in your bathroom. It’s also important to know how to plunge your toilet and avoid toilet clogs in the future. At Terry’s Plumbing, we can help you with all three issues.

What To Do When The Toilet Overflows

When your toilet overflows, the first course of action is to stop the water. There are three logical ways to do this.

  • Close the flapper inside the toilet tank. Remove the lid to your toilet tank and look inside. At the base of the tank, you’ll see a flapper that covers an opening into the toilet bowl. Pushing the flapper down inside the tank will stop the water from exiting the tank and entering the bowl.
  • Lift the float inside the toilet tank. The float at the top of the toilet tank controls the flow of water into the tank. Lifting the float shuts off the water.  
  • Turn off the water valve at the base of the toilet. Water flow to the toilet is controlled by a valve usually found at the base of the toilet. Turning off the valve turns off the water flowing into the toilet. Use this method as a last resort, because valves tend to be difficult to turn and fighting with it could waste precious time.

Once the water is turned off, you might find yourself standing with your hand inside your toilet tank wondering what to do next. Never fear: the water inside the toilet bowl will likely start to go down after a minute. When the water in the bowl is completely down, you can take your hand out of the tank.

Plunge the Toilet

Once the immediate problem has been handled, it’s time to plunge your toilet.

  1. Put the plunger in the toilet bowl so that the head of the plunger is completely covered by water.
  2. Pump the head of the plunger up and down quickly. The water level in the toilet will likely go down.
  3. Flush the toilet when the water level goes down far enough that the plunger is no longer covered in water.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the toilet seems to be working properly again.

You can watch a video on this subject here:


Bored with plungers? Take a look at this product that plunges your toilet by forming an airtight seal over the top of the bowl:


Prevent the Problem From Happening Again

The best way to prevent clogs is to  avoid flushing anything that isn’t human waste, water or toilet paper. Never flush any product just because it claims to be “flushable.” Kitty litter, tampons, baby wipes, adult wipes and diapers are not appropriate for the sewers or the septic tank. They should never go down your drains.

Contact a Plumber

If your toilet in Pittsburgh is still clogged, even after using a plunger or an airtight vacuum seal, call Terry’s Plumbing. We will take care of your plumbing and return your toilet back to proper working order. Call us today at 412-364-9114.