What Causes a Toilet to Overflow?

Toilets in your home are a major convenience and one of your plumbing system’s essential features. The commode can develop problems that cause problematic plumbing issues and substantial property damage, even with proper maintenance. Overflowing is one of the primary issues with toilets. 

Many people wonder what causes a toilet to overflow. The simple answer is a clog, but the actual explanation can be more complex than that. Reduce the risk of an overflow by learning about its causes below. 

What Causes a Toilet to Overflow?

When you flush, clogs in plumbing will force water to back up into a toilet bowl. Since the water cannot flow freely through the drain pipe and away from the house, it will move back through the line and into the bowl. 

The clog can develop in the toilet bowl, which is relatively easy to remove with a plunger. However, a blockage can also develop in the drain pipe. These lines have multiple bends as it takes waste from your home to the city’s sewage system or a private septic tank. Materials can quickly accumulate in corners and cause a toilet to overflow. 

Though toilet bowl clogs might not require a professional plumber’s assistance, you would need a plumber to identify and dislodge obstructions in the drain pipe. You would also need a plumber to address other causes of overflowing toilets, such as a septic tank problem or a faulty plumbing system. 

Toilet clogs can occur for several reasons. Below are five actions that increase the risk of a plumbing obstruction that could cause toilets to overflow. 

1. Flushing Too Much at Once

The most common cause for a toilet bowl clog is flushing too much material at once. Filling a commode with waste and tissue paper will make it harder for the materials to flow down the drain. Since nothing can go down the drain due to a clog, repeatedly flushing the toilet will only force more water to fill the bowl. 

2. Disposing Non-Flushable Items in the Toilet

The only things you should flush are waste and tissue paper specially designed for septic systems. Those items are biodegradable and easily break down in sewage systems. However, feminine hygiene products, baby wipes, cleansing wipes, and paper towels do not break down as well, so they can quickly clog drain pipes, even if they appear to flush with ease. 

3. Putting Pet Waste in the Toilet

Flushing pet waste may seem like a good idea, but it is better to dispose of droppings in the garbage. Cat feces sometimes contain Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that affects people and animals. Unfortunately, the parasite can survive in a municipal water treatment system.

Cat litter is also problematic. Most varieties consist of bentonite clay that hardens when wet. The purpose of the material is to clump around waste, so it can easily cause clogs inside a plumbing system. 

4. Flushing Kitchen Waste

Many people understand that putting grease, oil, and food down their kitchen sinks can wreak havoc on pipes. That doesn’t mean it is acceptable to flush those items down the toilet. 

Grease and oil may flush as a liquid, but they can solidify inside the drain pipe. Over time, the materials accumulate on the sides of the lines and trap other debris. Kitchen waste will reduce the pipe opening until nothing can get through, which forces water to back up into the home. 

5. Leaving Children Unattended in the Bathroom

Young children do not fully understand how toilets work, so they may fill the commode with excessive tissue paper or toys. Toilet paper can form a bowl clog, but small toys and trinkets can make it down the drain and form a clog in the line. 

How to Stop an Overflowing Toilet

It doesn’t take a lot of time for an overflowing toilet to create a hazardous mess. Not only could it lead to serious water damage to your floors, but sewage from an overflowing toilet can also expose you to harmful bacteria like E.coli. Stop a toilet overflow using the following methods. 

1. Shut Off the Water Supply

Beneath a toilet is a silver knob that connects the tank to the wall. During an overflow, turn the knob counterclockwise to shut off the commode’s water supply. This method effectively prevents the plumbing situation from worsening while you attempt to dislodge the clog or call a plumber for help. 

2. Adjust the Flapper

If the shutoff valve doesn’t work, you could adjust the flapper in the toilet’s tank. The flapper is a rubber disk that covers a drain in the bottom of the tank. Water will continue filling the bowl unless the rubber stopper completely covers the hole. 

You could stop the toilet from overflowing by ensuring that the flapper is down. Lift the tank lid and press down on the rubber until the water stops running. 

3. Lift the Float Ball 

A toilet float ball is a balloon-like structure inside the toilet tank that rises to signal the commode to stop filling with water. You can lift the float ball to prevent more water from filling the bowl. 

Quality Plumbing Services in San Diego, CA

When your toilet clogs and overflows, you need toilet repair by Core Plumbing. As one of the leading plumbing companies serving San Diego and the surrounding areas, our certified plumbing contractors can handle any plumbing issue. Whether your toilet runs nonstop or a pipe springs a leak, our fully licensed company will immediately address your plumbing issues. 

Core Plumbing proudly serves residential and commercial customers throughout San Diego. As a full-service plumbing company, we offer various services, including

Reach Out to Core Plumbing Today

If you can’t figure out what causes a toilet to overflow in your home, don’t hesitate to contact Core Plumbing. You can count on a professional plumber from our team to quickly handle all of your toilet plumbing problems quickly. Request assistance today by calling (858) 293-4110.