family plumbing awareness

family plumbing awareness

Toilet Overflowing? Here's What to Do and What to Avoid at All Costs

Patsy Peterson

Overflowing, clogged toilets can be frustrating, but they're one of those things that everyone experiences at some point. Knowing how to fix the problem quickly and efficiently can help you prevent a bathroom calamity. Here's what you should do, and what you should avoid doing, when your toilet becomes clogged.

Catch It Quickly

When the flapper inside the tank is up, it releases water into the toilet. So if your toilet is filling up after flushing, and it looks like it's about to overflow, quickly remove the lid of the tank and push the flapper down.

If you've been having issues with your toilet overflowing, keep the lid off the tank as you flush so you can catch it in time. Then try the following tricks to get rid of that clog once and for all.  


Plunging your toilet could fix the problem, but you've got to use the right plunger and the right method.

Funnel-cup plungers are the best choice. They have a funnel extending from the bottom, and they fit perfectly inside the bottom opening of the toilet to give it a nice seal. Without a good seal, you could plunge all day and get no results.

First, prepare the plunger by running warm water over it. This will soften the rubber and make it more flexible, improving the seal you get and making plunging easier. Then pour some of that hot water in the toilet along with a small amount of dish detergent to help break up the clog.

Now you're ready to plunge. As you flush, force the plunger up and down in hard, quick strokes to help push out the clog. The pressure from the water being flushed should help. Repeat several times as needed until the clog is gone.

If plunging doesn't work, you may need to move on to an auger.

Use an Auger

Commonly known as a "snake," an auger is a long, flexible rod that moves through the pipes to gently push the clog away.

It's pretty easy to use. Simply retract the cable all the way. Then insert the tip of the cable into the drain, with the plastic elbow of the auger resting on the bottom of the toilet. Start cranking the auger until you meet resistance. Then crank it in reverse. Keep repeating this process until the clog either moves through or you "catch" it and bring it back up the drain, discarding as necessary.

Once the clog seems to be gone, finish up with a gentle plunging.

Try Some Baking Soda and Vinegar

When combined, these two household products create a chemical reaction that can break apart the clog. For a minor clog (toilets that aren't overflowing onto the floor but are slow to flush), use one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar. Pour them in at once and give them several minutes to do their thing. Next, pour in a full pot of hot water.

If your toilet clog is really bad, start with ¼ cup of vinegar and ½ cup of baking soda followed by a small amount of hot water. Using the full amounts on a severe clog could cause the toilet to overflow and flood your bathroom.

If this trick works, you should hear a gentle suction sound as the clog breaks apart.

Avoid Costly Mistakes

When clearing out that clog, make sure you adhere to the following rules of what not to do:

  1. Don't use a flat bottom sink plunger. You won't get the seal needed to remove the clog.
  2. Never force an auger down a toilet. Doing so could cause the toilet or pipes to crack.
  3. When using the baking soda/vinegar method, do not use boiling water. This can crack the porcelain.
  4. Avoid using chemicals to unclog a drain. While they may work, many times they're slow to work. And it they don't, you're left with a toilet full of chemicals that could become a major hazard if the toilet were to overflow.
  5. If you have already used commercial chemicals, do not use vinegar and baking soda right after. The combination could create hazardous fumes or even damage your pipes.  
  6. Don't wait to call a plumber if your clog doesn't move. There are just some things that are better left to the professionals. 

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About Me
family plumbing awareness

Keeping your home's plumbing system in good working order is a family job. Have you taught your kids what should never be flushed down the toilets or poured down the drains? Do your kids know what to watch for to know that there is a plumbing problem that needs to be addressed? If your kids know what to look for, they will be less likely to contribute to making a minor plumbing problem more serious. This blog will show you things that you should teach your kids so that everyone can work together to protect the entire plumbing system in your home.