Every homeowner has been there – your toilet overflows. Whether it’s because of an old, clogged drain or you’ve been away from home for a few days and didn’t have time to flush, the result is the same: a stinky mess that needs immediate attention.
When the going gets tough, so to speak, you can always count on emergency plumbing. That’s professional help available anytime, even in the dead of the night. However, as a responsible homeowner, it also pays to know why toilets overflow.
One common reason is a partial clog somewhere in the toilet. The most typical and easiest-to-correct type of clog is a result of foreign objects falling out of pockets into the commode and ending up there, such as toys or marbles.
This can also include an object that was flushed but somehow failed to pass through the mechanism successfully. The object will usually be visible at this point. If not, it might be wedged just above the opening, which leads to the “flushing tunnels.” This condition may be corrected by using a toilet plunger or other similar tool.
In some cases, the problem is more complex and hard to detect at first. A perfect example is tree roots encroaching on underground or overhead pipes. These roots (generally from trees planted too close to the pipes) wrap around the water-carrying conduits and crush them or block their flow.
Two things can happen in this situation. One, as the pressure builds up, water flows back into the toilet. Second, these roots can eventually damage pipes, causing a major leak outside your house.
2. Flush Valve and Flapper Issues
A toilet overflow can also happen because of a clogged or misaligned flush valve. A flush valve, for instance, is stuck open. This may be caused by rust or mineral deposits on the valves’ moving parts. If this sounds like your problem, replace both the flush valve and flush valve seat at the same time for the best results.
Meanwhile, the flapper is a part of the internal toilet’s mechanism that allows the water to flow from the tank into the bowl when you flush. The flapper arm that seals the tank opening must remain submerged at all times for the toilet to continue flushing properly. If it does not stay down, water will continually flow into the bowl and will not be removed.
Another reason can be that the ballcock assembly is not filling the tank with water, causing the flapper valve to remain closed even after flushing. This problem can be fixed by adjusting the float arm so that it moves down correctly and allows for appropriate filling of the tank. If this does not work, then one might consider replacing either or both of these components.
3. Damages in the Toilet
Water coming from somewhere other than where it should be is another common cause. A leaking flush valve seal, a crack in a ceramic part, a damaged pipe connection—all are possibilities. The leak must be found and corrected if this situation is to resolve itself.
As a last resort, the entire toilet should be replaced. This is often a difficult decision to make, but if other options have been exhausted without success, it may be the only alternative.
4. Changes in Water Pressure
Toilet overflow problems may also result from water pressure issues within the system. This is most common when several appliances are running at once. It can be compared to a faucet that has a slow drip.
If you notice a significant loss of water pressure on your street or during peak hours, contact your local Water Department for help with solving the problem as soon as possible.
Sometimes the supposed issue with water pressure has something to do with a leaky tank ball. The water level in the tank will not rise up high enough to allow the toilet bowl to drain properly when flushed.
Check under your bathroom sink for drips if you suspect this could be your problem and then tighten any loose connections with adjustable pliers. If all else fails, the replacement of both parts should solve this issue once and for all.
Toilets can be a huge problem if they get clogged. But even worse than the inconvenience is the fact that not fixing them right away will lead to overflowing toilets and misery for everyone in your home. Because prevention is key to sparing yourself from dealing with a headache due to repairs and replacements, watch out for these common reasons of toilet overflow.