The sight of an overflowing toilet spilling out onto your bathroom floor is a special kind of helplessness. While water damage may occur from clean sources such as a broken toilet supply line, water from a toilet bowl overflow is usually contaminated by the contents of the bowl and must be considered toxic.
Even worse damage may occur when the bathroom is on a second floor, as many are. A prolonged overflow may discharge enough water that it saturates the bathroom, soaks the inner space between floors, trickles down through wall cavities, penetrates the ceiling, and drips down into the room below.
A few preventive measures can help make the distressing and costly experience of an overflowing toilet less likely:
- A toilet overflow is much more damaging when nobody’s around to see it happening. Don’t leave the bathroom after flushing until the toilet refills the bowl, then shuts off normally.
- Know the location of the toilet water supply valve and make sure you can operate it. It’s typically located on the wall behind the toilet, near the floor. Because these valves typically becoming sticky and difficult to rotate over time, test the valve a few times a year by turning it off and on.
- If you can’t stop the freshwater supply to the toilet at the main water supply valve, remove the lid of the toilet tank and lift the float rod that operates the tank fill valve to stop water entering the tank. Use a coat hanger or any other wire to secure the float rod in the upward position and keep the fill valve shut.
If water released by the overflow is simply a pool limited to the center of the bathroom floor and not contacting walls or flowing under baseboards, DIY cleanup with mops and disinfectant may be sufficient. If water volume exceeds that small amount, contact a qualified professional water damage recovery service.