One nice day, as you finish your daily job and flush the toilet, the water inside the bowl decides not to go down but rises slowly instead. This is a sign that your toilet has been clogged somewhere—down the toilet pipes, inside the vent pipe, or something might be wrong with the toilet tank’s internal mechanism.
When the toilet water rises too high when flushed, the most important step is to analyze the cause and find ways to fix it. You might prefer to call professionals, but before you call a plumber, let me tell you how to fix an overflowing toilet yourself.
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Reasons Why Your Toilet is Overflowing When Flushed
Toilet water rising when flushing is common, so you can find the causes and deal with them yourself. Here are the three most common causes of toilet overflows that we provide to help you recognize the signs and fix them quickly.
1. Clogged toilet
A clog or blockage in the pipes is primarily responsible for the water rising in the toilet. Try to recall if you unintentionally threw too much toilet paper at once or any non-biodegradable items such as tampons, cotton pads, or even kid toys (if you have energetic children who like to run around).
As your toilet gets stuck with these kinds of objects, after a single flush, toilet water rises and then slowly drains out. At this point, the water may rise higher and more quickly than usual. It might take a while for the water to recede and stop at its normal level.
If you neglect these early signs, the clog might get worse, and water may refuse to go down quickly or not go down at all. When the toilet keeps overflowing, water can flow out of the bowl and make the toilet dirty with smelly water.
2. Blockage in the vent pipe
A vent pipe is a pipeline that brings air from outside to the plumbing system in order to replace the sewer gas that is pumped out after each toilet flush. This plumbing vent pipe is often located on the house’s rooftop and can get stuck with dried leaves or bird nests on windy days.
Unlike a clog in the toilet, the signs of a clogged vent pipe are easier to recognize. Since all drain pipes in the toilet are often connected with the same vent pipe, a blockage inside the vent pipe would affect all the water systems in your bathroom.
For example, when you flush the toilet, water comes up in the tub or the sink. This can probably be explained by a clogged vent pipe.
If you flush and the toilet is overflowing but the other water system (bathtub, sink, etc.) is not clogged, as there is no sound of gurgling and water rising, the cause does not lie in the vent pipe.
When the vent pipe is blocked, the flow of water does not function normally, which causes the toilet to overflow when flushed.
3. Faulty internal mechanisms
If the toilet water rises too high but not clogged, it can be a faulty tank’s mechanism, though less likely, affecting the water level.
Open the lid of the toilet tank, and you can see the components that control the flow of water to the toilet bowl. If you have a filler float that is set in a high position, toilet water will keep rising in the tank, causing it to overflow.
Remember always to keep the water below the float. If the water rises above the float in the toilet tank, it will overflow.
Not having a problem with your filler float?
Check the toilet flapper, which is like a lid that closes and opens the flush drain hole. When we push to flush, the lid is opened and water from the tank flows down to the toilet bowl.
If the flapper is loosened because of old age or is worn out by the chemical substance we use to clean our toilet tank, it will malfunction and let a bit more water flow in than usual.
However, when water flows into the toilet bowl as a result of a faulty tank, there is usually no substantial overflow. The toilet will be full of water, but slowly it will come back to its normal level because there is no clog in the pipes that prevent the flow of water.
The only problem is that you will waste a large amount of water leaking from the tank, which keeps flowing nonstop. That is to say, an overflow in the toilet is mostly caused by a clog or blockage in the pipes under the toilet system. Things happening above the toilet do not relate to the issue that much.
How to Fix an Overflowing Toilet?
As you have figured out the main causes, you may now ask yourself what to do next. So here’s something you can do at home to keep the water from rising.
Keep in mind that whatever the cause, you must not flush the toilet a second time after the first flush as the toilet is already filled with water. If you flush several times, it will continue to flood and overflow onto the floor.
1. Remove the clog
Now is the time to unclog your toilet! A clog in a toilet can be removed by using a toilet plunger. Put the plunger in the toilet hole and press it as firmly as possible to tighten the position.
Press the plunger and release it consecutively to pull out the clog. The pressure will push away this clog in no time. After a few pushes, if you hear a gurgling sound under the toilet, the blockage is probably gone.
You can try to use a toilet snake if your plunger doesn’t work. A toilet snake, or toilet auger, is made of metal with a sharp, thin wire that enters deep inside the toilet hole.
Hold the toilet snake firmly and twist until it meets the clog. Push it a few times until you think the clog is gone. When pulling it out, don’t be surprised by the amount of waste the toilet snake accumulated on its journey!
2. Clear the blockage in the vent pipe
Removing clogs inside the vent pipe could be a dangerous job, as you need to climb to the rooftop where the pipe is located and use tools like a drain snake or a garden hose. You might need assistance to make sure there is no potential accident.
You can try to push away solid clogs from the vent pipe with the drain snake, and then clean the pipe with water from the garden hose. This can ensure that water will flow in smoothly without getting pushed back due to the solid clogs.
3. Check the tank to fix faulty parts
To stop the toilet water from rising inside the bowl, you must also check if the tank is still working normally. Take off the lid of the tank and find the fill valve to shut off the water supply before you start inspecting the flapper.
If you think the flapper is worn out, go buy a new one to replace the old one. Check the length of the chain connecting the flapper with the flush handle. A chain that is too short or too long must also be extended or cut off to make sure the right amount of water is flushed through the toilet bowl.
Next, adjust the position of the float by using a screw attached to the arm. You can either lengthen or shorten the arm to control the flow of water into the tank.
What Happens if Toilet Water is Too High?
Normally, when you flush the toilet, the pressure from the flow of water will push the water down the pipes, and after a while, the water will flow back in to reach its proper level in the bowl.
However, when the toilet is using too much water, which makes the water level higher than usual, a large amount of water will be wasted and sometimes cause toilet overflows.
How About When the Water is Low?
Instead of facing a high level of water, have you experienced a low level? You may think that the toilet water level is lower than normal for no reason, but we could give you some good explanations.
Evaporation can be the cause of low toilet water. If you do not use the toilet frequently and leave it open without the seat cover, water may evaporate, resulting in the low level of water you see now.
Secondly, your naughty pets who like to drink from the toilet can cause the water level to drop. If the culprit is, for instance, your dog, you should close the door to the bathroom as regularly as possible.
Now that you have discovered why your toilet water rises too high when flushed, you may try to resolve the issues yourself without any doubt. If you do not believe in your plumbing skills, don’t hesitate to call a plumber to help. They have the experience and the tools required for the job.
In case you notice another issue with your toilet, like when your toilet won’t flush and water still rises from below, this might be a serious problem with your septic tank, so immediately call the plumber and let them inspect the issue for you.
I’m Paulk Webb, and I work as a writer for Saveourwaterrebates. I’m happy to put in the time and effort to conduct market research to identify the most pressing issues faced by households concerning their plumbing. Feel free to check out our guides to get the most informed recommendations for how to solve your problems.