Do's And Don'ts Of Dealing With A Backed Up Toilet

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cleaning up after Mother Nature

I have worked with a disaster recovery group for the last ten years. We travel from place to place to help towns recover after natural disasters. I have assisted in the clean-up efforts of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and fires. Each of these terrible disasters has taught me something that I hadn't already known about cleaning up and rebuilding after a disaster. That is why I created this blog. Hopefully, you will find what you need to know to help your family, neighbors or friends clean up and rebuild after Mother Nature creates a disaster area that is beyond your wildest dreams.

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Do's And Don'ts Of Dealing With A Backed Up Toilet

14 March 2018
 Categories: , Blog


Everyone ends up in this situation at one time or another. You flush the toilet, and instead of the water circulating and going down, it just spirals and spirals before rising up and flooding your bathroom floor! How you handle a backed-up toilet is paramount to preventing extensive damage and contamination. So, follow these do's and don'ts whenever you are faced with this yucky calamity.

Do: Turn off the water supply

This is the first thing you should do as soon as you notice the toilet is flooding or about to flood. The water supply valve is located near the floor, usually at the base of the toilet. If you turn it all of the way to the left, it should close, and no more water will flow into your toilet. What is in the tank and bowl may still spill out onto the floor, but that is it. That much water won't make too huge of a mess.

Don't: Plunge right away

You might be tempted to reach for a plunger right away, but as long as you've stopped the flow of water into the toilet, it is actually best to wait a few minutes. Toilet paper is designed to break down rather quickly, so if you give it a little time to break down, it will soften, and the clog will be easier to clear away when you do plunge the toilet. After 10 or 15 minutes, reach for the plunger, and plunge with strong strokes, making sure you have a good seal on the toilet opening. The water should eventually drain.

Do: Call a plumber if the plunger does not work

If the plunger does not loosen the clog, then there is a good chance the clog is caused by something stronger than toilet paper -- or that it is located further down the drain line. In both of these cases, you will need to have the clog removed by a professional. If this is your only toilet and you can't wait, call an emergency plumber like Vines Plumbing & Water Restoration. Otherwise, clean up what water you can, close the toilet lid, and use your other toilet until your normal plumber can come by.

Don't: Forget to clean up

Raw sewage harbors all sorts of nasty bacteria, so always thoroughly clean yourself and the surrounding area after a toilet backs up. A solution of bleach and water is perfect for surfaces, and washing your hands with soap and water is sufficient.