Many people have been unfortunate enough to have the experience of using the bathroom at someone else's house when the toilet starts overflowing. Even if you haven't had to undergo this experience, your own toilet has probably overflowed. In either instance, but especially the former, it's easy for panic to set in. On the off chance that it happens again, here is a quick guide to get the toilet back to normal.
Turn off the Water
In most recently manufactured toilets, you turn off the water by turning the valve on the supply line near the bottom of the toilet. However, if you can't find the valve, then removing the tank cover and proceeding straight to the next step will usually work.
Remove the Tank Cover
Remove the tank cover and lift the float ball or cup high enough to get the water to stop running. If the water continues to run after doing this, turn off the water to the house. The water supply to the house looks like a regular hose faucet and is typically in the basement or wherever you have your water heater. If you're not sure where your water supply valve is, contact a plumber for help finding it.
Remove Excess Water
If you can find a vessel of some sort to remove excess water with, start scooping water out of the toilet bowl and dumping it in the sink. If the water is dirty or contains waste, find a bucket or other container that can get messy and dump the water there instead.
Use the Plunger
With excess water dumped out, you can use the plunger now to clear the clog. The key is to completely cover the hole in the toilet bowl with the plunger and use deep and steady strokes to remove the clog. It may sometimes require some time and patience, but once you see things start moving in the toilet bowl, you know you're close to getting it cleared.
Reset the Float Mechanism
After stopping the overflow, or to reduce the risk of future overflows, reset the float mechanism in your toilet tank so that it sits lower in the tank and the float chain isn't tangled or caught on another mechanism. The float ball or cup is an integral part of the toilet system. It is responsible for keeping the toilet from overflowing, so you may need to replace this part altogether.
Often, a toilet that frequently clogs or overflows is a sign of a more serious issue. If it's your own toilet, call a plumber to come out and assess the situation. They may be able to identify serious issues that are causing the frequent overflows.
Trying to fix an overflowing toilet can make you feel panicky and horrified. Aside from refusing to use the bathroom when you're away from home, knowing how to handle an overflowing toilet wherever you are is essential knowledge. With the right steps in mind, you'll be better prepared for the next time if it happens again.