What to do When Your Toilet Floods

Toilet leaking and creating water damage that requires water restoration

We’ve all been there. Maybe you live in an older home with bad plumbing. Maybe your kids put something down the toilet that they shouldn’t have. Or maybe it’s something even worse…. no matter what the reason is, we’ve all experienced a clogged toilet at some point! Many of us have also had the misfortune of dealing with an overflowing toilet.

It’s a mad scramble to find and throw down rags, towels, and anything else absorbent nearby. In case you’ve never been the victim of an overflowing toiler, or if you have but you’d like to know how you can better handle it next time, here are some tips on what to do when your toilet overflows or floods!


Step 1: Turn off the Water.

This is the first step you should take, because it will help stop the water from continuing to flow! On the back of your toilet, locate the water line that travels from the wall up to the toilet’s water tank. In most toilets this will look like a braided steel line. Along the water line, you should notice a valve handle that can be turned to open or close the water line. Turn this valve clockwise but don’t try and force it! Oftentimes these are designed to move in quarter rotations, so a short twist should close it. If it won’t budge or it won’t turn easily, some WD-40 can help loosen things up.


Step 2: Keep it Contained.

Try and keep all the water in the bathroom. This is especially important if you’ve got carpeted floors right outside your bathroom door! The tile flooring inside a bathroom is designed to withstand water and be easily cleaned. Carpeted flooring on the other hand can be a real hassle to clean up and dry out. To prevent waste water from flowing out the door, start by placing towels close to the door to impede the flow of water. Then work your way back toward the toilet.  This way you’re pushing water back away from the door as you clean it up. Throwing towels down right around the base of the toilet will do the opposite, pushing water out toward the door.


Step 3: Start Drying it Up.

Start soaking all the water up. Use bath towels, hand towels, rags, washcloths and any other absorbent materials you’ve got lying around to help absorb the water off of the floor. If you have a mop that can be wrung out, this is a great tool to use! You can also use bath mats if you have them, they’re designed to be absorbent after all! If you don’t want them getting dirty, toss them in the tub to keep them dry.


Step 4: Clear the Clog.

There’s a very good chance that plunging your toilet is going to cause more water to spill over. So if you’re planning to DIY clear the pipes, brace yourself for a round 2 of overflowing water. If this is the case, set up some towels around the base of the toilet before you get started to make clean up easier on yourself. Once the clog is cleared and the water has drained, you can try opening the water valve back up and performing a couple of test flushes. Now, hopefully you’ll be in the clear after plunging! If the toilet continues to back up and overflow, you’ll probably want to call a plumber.

  • Note: If your toiler is overflowing, you should avoid using harsh drain cleaners or clog busters. These chemicals can be very caustic and dangerous to touch or inhale. If they aren’t able to successfully bust through the clog, they could end up overflowing back out of your toilet and onto the floor.


Step 5: Get to Cleaning!

Now, assuming that the pipes are working properly now and the water has stopped overflowing, you can finally get to cleaning! It’s time to bust out the mop. You’ll definitely want to use some sort of sanitizing agent (toilet water isn’t known for its cleanliness.) If you’ve got windows in your bathroom, crack them open. This will help with drying up the water and airing out any smell. Finally, wash and dry your towels as usual. Be generous with an extra wash cycle or two if needed!


These tips should help you handle a common overflow on your own. However, if you notice black wastewater, mold, or residual water damage down the line — contact Elite Restoration.

We’re here to help!