Water Damage from Toilet Overflow
Overflowing toilets are one of the most common causes for water damage within the home. While we couldn’t imagine our lives without toilets, there are a lot of things that can go wrong with an improperly maintained toilet. Children try to flush toys down the toilet, septic tanks stop draining properly, and general clogs from use can all spell out trouble. Thankfully, most homeowners are quick to notice an overflowing toilet, which means they can act quickly to ameliorate the issue.
Depending on the location of your bathroom and the kind of overflow you’re dealing with, you’ll have to approach the issue from different angles. Second story bathrooms and toilet overflow that contains sewage present unique obstacles along the path of handling the problem.
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What to Do Immediately
Locate the toilet’s water valve, usually located behind the toilet, and shut the water off. This will prevent the tank from releasing more water, which will counteract your efforts to clean up the mess. Don’t attempt to flush the toilet until you’re sure of the cause of the overflow. You may need to remove a clog or fix the pipes.
If you have a wet vacuum, use it to remove as much of the water from the floor as possible. Use towels to soak up any remaining water, and clean the floor as normal. If you can’t identify the problem with the toilet by looking at it, and you’re inexperienced with plumbing, don’t start messing around with anything. You can potentially make the issue worse. Wait for a plumber’s assistance.
If The Backup Involves Sewage
If the backup involves sewage, your cleaning problem may be different. Sewage is potentially harmful, and exposing yourself to sewage is a risk to your personal health. Don’t allow others to enter the affected bathroom. If you have a wet vacuum, you may still attempt to vacuum up some of the overflow.
Any floods that involve sewage will require special sanitation, and you should not attempt to sanitize the area with improper equipment. Professionals use decontamination suits to reduce the risk to their health. Everything in the affected bathroom will have to be properly sanitized before it’s safe to use. Regular household cleaners, such as laundry bleach, may not be enough to kill the bacteria deposited by sewage.
Sewage backup can be caused by larger problems, such as broken or clogged drainage systems. If the problem isn’t specific to the area surrounding the toilet, you may need to have your drainage checked to assure the sewage is properly leaving your home. If not, you’re risking future sewage damage within your home. A plumber will be able to identify the cause of a sewage backup.
Survey the Damage
Certain kinds of flooring are more susceptible to damage than others. Water damage to linoleum may become severe enough that the flooring needs to be replaced. Secure tile that hasn’t been loosened by the damage may withstand the overflow. Check walls and baseboards if the water has reached them.
Inspect your bathroom vanity. Often times, vanities are made of pressed wood that’s eager to absorb water. Open up your bathroom vanity and remove the contents. Dry what you can, a dispose of things that are ruined. If the overflow contained sewage, dispose of as much as possible. If it’s safe, attempt to dry up any water that may be sitting inside of the vanity, and leave the doors open.
If the Toilet is Upstairs
An upstairs toilet overflowing leaves you prone to more complications. Since the floor of the affected bathroom is a ceiling for another part of your home, any water that has permeated the floor creates a potentially disastrous complication. If you don’t see any visible exterior signs of water having penetrated the floor, it’s safest to operate under the assumption that there may be water within the area.
If you can see water dripping through your ceiling, you may need to replace that section of flooring. There isn’t much you’ll be able to do on your own if this is the case. The area will need serious drying and repair to prevent bloating or swelling that can lead to collapse, putting you in real danger.
If the affected area contains a ceiling fan or a lighting fixture, do not attempt to turn it on. Turn off the electrical to your bathroom and the room below it in order to prevent the risk of electrical shock. If you smell smoke or see sparks, you need to leave your house until a professional has addressed the problem and declared it safe to enter.
Call for Help
Sometimes, it’s not as simple as mopping up the mess, unclogging the toilet, and going about your daily life. Unchecked water damage can lead to serious issues. Especially since bathrooms contain a lot of dark areas that retain moisture, you’re putting your home at risk for mold damage. Mold is serious, and can cause health problems. If allowed to spread, it can overtake large areas that will need to be entirely replaced. Since mold can start to form within 24 hours, it’s best not to wait and take your chances.
It’s especially important to contact an expert if your overflow contains sewage, and if your overflow has affected the integrity of your second story. Dealing with sewage requires special equipment and sanitation products that you may not have access to. Water that has settled between a floor and a ceiling may require intensive repair, and that work should be left to someone who is experienced in home construction.
Restoration Local helps connect homeowners experiencing flooding and potential water damage with reliable contractors who are experts at preventative care and damage repair. Contact us at 1-888-443-3110 for a free estimate. We’ll be happy to put you in the hands of a reliable, top-rated contractor in your area who is experienced in dealing with toilet overflow. Stop stressing and save the hard work for a professional who will be able to prevent the damage from spreading and properly dry your walls.