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What do I do about an overflowing toilet?

First, turn off the water at the valve under the toilet. If it’s a case of too much paper or other matter causing a stoppage, a plunger should work. If the toilet is not operating because the sewer is stopped up, a homeowner can help prevent overflowing by opening their sewer clean-out (located outside the building) to relieve the pressure on the system. Then call your plumber or a drain-cleaning company.

Your toilet is not a garbage disposal. Just because a product is called disposable doesn’t mean it should be flushed down the toilet. Keep a waste paper basket in the bathroom for such things as gum, bandages and paper towels. Baby diapers and all sanitary products don’t belong in a toilet.

A clogged toilet is a tricky problem, so be careful with whatever method you use for cleaning the drain. Most water closets are made of vitreous china which might crack if exposed to extremely hot water,  pressure or force.

A plunger will normally handle simple toilet clogs. Problems that can arise are compacting the clog instead of dislodging it or creating enough pressure to blow out the wax seal. Plumbers generally use an auger with an adjustable, crank-type handle. Use the auger carefully. Careless handling may crack the toilet.

If the rubber-cupped plunger or the auger does not clear the toilet, call your plumber.

Stains or moisture at the base of the closet bowl may indicate that the seal between the toilet and the drain has failed and should be reset immediately to prevent damage to your home and possible health hazards.

Toilet Runs Continuously

When water continues to run after the toilet has been flushed, it is usually one of two things – either the fill valve or the flapper. Same thing, if water continues to seep into the bowl or if there is a low humming noise.

A small amount of food coloring added to the tank water will help you determine whether the flapper is leaking. Add a few drops to the water in the tank after it is filled. Watch for the coloring to seep into the toilet bowl, and if it does, the flapper may be responsible. If the flapper is misshapen (scalloped), covered with a slimy coating or when you touch it, rubber comes off on your finger – replace the flapper.

An overflow tube or pipe is provided in the toilet tank to take care of the water in case it rises above the correct level – which should be at about 3/4 of an inch below the top of the overflow pipe. If the water rises to the top of the overflow pipe an adjustment or new fill-valve assembly is necessary. Consult your plumber if in doubt.