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Pro-tip: Turn off Water during a Toilet Overflow


toilet valve for overflow shut offNothing is worse than an overflowing toilet. Watching that water rise up over the bowl and flood your bathroom without any way to stop it is quite unnerving. Some toilets will stop themselves from overflowing, but older toilets might have a hard time getting rid of the extra water when they’re clogged, and in that case, it’s important to know how to turn off the water to prevent further damage.

When it comes to an overflowing toilet, your best bet is to turn off the water to prevent causing further damage to your toilet and your bathroom floor.

  • First things first: don’t keep flushing! It might be tempting to keep flushing to try to force a clog to release itself, but that rarely happens when you keep flushing, resulting in an overflowing toilet and a wet bathroom floor. 

  • Leave the chemicals alone: It also might be tempting to flush Drano or other chemical products down the toilet to remove a clog. We recommend avoiding pouring anything else in the toilet once it’s clogged—you could have further clogging issues and chemical products such as Drano could damage your toilet

  • Locate the shutoff valve—It’s usually the line coming out of the wall behind the toilet. Turn it clockwise, but don’t force it. If you’re having trouble turning the valve because it’s rusted or because of hard water, hit it with a little WD-40 to help grease it.

  • Wait…where’s the shutoff valve?  If you have an older toilet, you may not have a shutoff valve. If that’s the case, you’ll need to take other measures to shut off the water. Pull the lid off the tank and find the float. It’s the rubber ball-looking container that floats on top of the water. Normally when you flush your toilet, the float bobs down with the water level setting off a chain reaction that opens the water valve inside the tank. In the case of flooding, you need to keep the float upright so the water doesn’t refill in the tank. Use a board or a wire hanger to keep the float upright and flush the toilet to empty it.

  • Shut off main water line—if necessary If the steps above don’t work, be prepared to shut off your main water line, which is normally located in the basement or in a crawl space.   

At this point, you’ll need to do some troubleshooting. Is a clog the cause of the overflow? Did your sewer back up? If you honestly don’t know, or aren’t sure how to fix it, call your Superior Drainage experts so we can assess and fix the problem.