You will always have a problem with your toilet when you least expect it, so the best advice is don’t panic and act swiftly! There are plenty of methods you can try at home to fix the issue before having to call a professional, according to K2 Plumbing, a plumber in Hollywood, FL.
1. The first thing to do is to take the lid off the toilet’s water tank (cistern) if you look down at the bottom of the tank you will see a small rubber flap that lets water into the toilet bowl. Push this flap down firmly to stop the water. You might have to use something heavy like a stone to hold the flap closed.
2. Next, your cistern will have a float (ball cock) that is either a round plastic shape or a cup shape and connected to a lever. Pull the lever up so that the float rises. This should stop the water pouring in to refill the tank.
3. The third step is to turn off the water. If you look behind your toilet, towards the ground level, you will see a pipe with a valve (stop cock). Turn this valve off, as this will cut the water supply.
4. If you can’t find the valve to turn off the water supply to the toilet, go and turn the water supply to the house firmly off.
Start the clean-up operation
* Using a mop and bucket, mop up any excess water that has overflowed onto the floor.
* Do not be tempted to put any chemicals down your toilet as these could be harmful.
The reason that your toilet has become blocked could be that it has been blocked with too much toilet tissue (very likely if you have young children in the house). Something could have been flushed down that should not have been – the list is long and includes tampons, sanitary towels, baby wipes, cat litter, kitchen fat etc. None of these things are meant to be flushed down the loo.
Try to dislodge any blockage
You may find that once you have turned off the water, that the water level in your toilet drops of its own accord. If it does, then get out your plunger and push it firmly up and down a few times at the entrance to the water pipe at the bottom of the toilet. With a bit of luck, you will successfully dislodge whatever was causing the problem.
If using the plunger is not successful, there is another way to see if you can dislodge the blockage. Get a strong wire coat hangar and carefully straighten it out with some pliers into a long straight piece of wire. Push one end of the wire into the blockage. Keep prodding the blockage until the paper (or whatever) is freed. It is probably best to don some plastic gloves and to scoop out whatever has caused the blockage, into a plastic bag using your hands.
Once you have successfully dislodged the blockage, you can release the rubber flap in the bottom of the water tank as well as the float and then flush the toilet a couple of times to ensure that it is working well.
If the water level is too high
If the water level did not drop of its own accord and has remained too high to successfully use the plunger, you will need to manually remove some of the water.
It is best to wear rubber gloves for hygiene and you will need a bucket and a disposable plastic cup – or similar. Scoop the water out using the cup until the water is at a low enough for you to use the plunger (see above).
What happens if the float is not stopping the water intake
Sometimes you find that when you use a plunger, there does not seem to be an apparent blockage – which can be puzzling. When you release the rubber flap and float, you might find the cause of the problem. When the toilet is flushed, the float sinks down and allows water to refill the tank. As the level of the water rises, so does the float. At a certain level, the float cuts the water supply and the water tank is full and ready to be flushed again. Sometimes though, the float starts to work erratically and can cause the water level in your toilet to overflow. Luckily these problems can be resolved with a little DIY.
3 common problems with the float
1. Sometimes the metal float arm is no longer working efficiently. If you suspect this, you can very gently bend the float arm to see if this improves things. Some newer water tanks have plastic arms which cannot be bent, but they could be covered in limescale – particularly if you live in a hard water area.
If you can see no apparent reason for the float arm not to work, it might be worth replacing it, as the cost is small and it could make a difference.
2. Sometimes the ball float is actually too big and is rubbing against the wall of the tank. This could be the case if you have recently replaced the float as it will need to have been replaced with one of the same size. If you have a metal float arm, you can try gently bending it to ensure that the float can rise and fall easily away from the wall of the tank.
3. Older ball floats can start to perish and let in water. This means that they will not be able to float as easily, nor will they cut the water supply effectively. Ball floats are inexpensive to replace, but make sure that you buy one that is the same size.
If you have tried all these steps but cannot resolve the problem with your toilet, make sure that the water supply remains turned off and call your plumber as the problem could be a more serious one!