You know the feeling. You flush the toilet and start to leave the bathroom when you hear the unmistakable sound of the toilet overflowing. If you don’t know how to handle it, you can find yourself in a state of panic.

Fortunately, knowing how to react in this situation can help you get a handle on an overflowing toilet and correct it quickly.

How to Stop the Water Flow

When a toilet is overflowing, the first step is to stop it from filling further. Here’s what you should do:

Don’t Flush Again

It’s often instinct to try to flush a toilet again when it’s overflowing, hoping that the water will just go down. This only makes the situation worse, however. If it’s clogged, you’re just adding more water to the bowl that will end up on the floor.

Plug the Flapper

As you see the water level rising, act fast and open the lid on the tank to close the toilet flapper. This piece of round rubber will be easy to find, as it’s attached to the tank with a metal or chain lever. Once closed, the flapper seals the water in the tank and keeps it from flowing into the bowl.

If you think the water bowl will overflow before you flush, prepare by taking the lid off the tank, keeping one hand on the flapper, and flushing. This will keep too much water from going into the bowl if it’s clogged.

Find the Toilet’s Water Shut-Off Valve

Some toilets have an accessible water shut-off valve that you can use to stop the water at the source. This is usually found where the toilet meets the wall. Turn the valve clockwise to shut off the water supply.

Get Ready to Plunge

Once you get the water flow stopped, you can take your time plunging to get the clog loosened.

Take Out Some Water

If the bowl is really full, you may need to take out some water to make space for the plunger and keep the dirty water from flowing over the rim. Put on rubber gloves and scoop some water out into a bucket. You only need to take out a few inches of water to get the level down.

Use the Right Plunger

Standard plungers are what you’ll find in most bathrooms, but they’re not the best for clearing toilet clogs. Flange plungers have an elongated flange at the bottom that can fit into the toilet drain hole, creating a tight seal that’s better for loosening clogs.

Heat Up the Plunger

A plunger that’s been sitting on a cool tile floor is hard and inflexible, making it more difficult to fit it into the hole and create a seal. Run the plunger under hot water for a few seconds to make the rubber more pliable before you begin.

Use the Plunger Correctly

Though simple, a lot of people don’t know how to properly use a plunger. If you’re only focused on the downward strokes, you’re unlikely to loosen the clog. Plunging requires downward and upward strokes to move the clog.

Once you have a tight seal, use consistent up and down strokes to keep the seal. Don’t rush and plunge furiously. After you’ve plunged a few times, you may see the water go down on its own. If not, try to flush to see if it drains. If it starts overflowing again, plug the flapper and continue plunging.

The Plumber’s Secret

Sometimes, plumbers will approach a toilet clog with some home remedies – hot water and dish detergent. The hot water can help loosen the clog and the dish detergent helps it move freely in the drain. You may not even have to plunge.

Another option if you have a lot of time is baking soda and vinegar. These two ingredients together create a chemical reaction that can break down the clog or loosen it. Just add one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar to the bowl and let it sit for eight hours before revisiting the clog.

When to Call a Plumber

Plunging a simple clog of waste and toilet paper is straightforward, but clogs that are caused by objects that shouldn’t be the toilet, such as a children’s toy or cosmetics, may require a plumber to intervene. They can snake the drain to remove it if you can’t, ensuring that it won’t end up lodged farther down the pipes.

If your toilet clogs often, it may point to other problems deeper in your plumbing system that need to be rectified. A plumber has the experience to diagnose a bigger issue, so don’t hesitate to call if clogs happen a lot.

Need plumbing help for your bathroom? Contact us at ASI Heating and Air to see how we can help you with stubborn toilet clogs!