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  • Writer's pictureKelly Ann

What to Do When the Toilet Overflows

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

Some of the last words anyone ever wants to hear is, “The toilet is overflowing!” Yes, it is messy, yes, it is unpleasant, and yes, there are certain things you’ll want to do immediately to avoid potential damage or health risks.


Recognize the Risks

  • Black water refers to the water used to flush toilets that mixes with human waste. This type of water can contain contaminants like parasites, viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Contact with this type of water is considered highly hazardous as it can pose serious health risks including hepatitis A and encephalitis.

  • If proper protocols for cleanup are not carefully met, then people and animals are at high risk of becoming sick.

Damage Control

  • Sewage water will easily find its way into porous surfaces like walls, cabinets, and floors. That means that damages are not always easily visible. Damages behind walls may not be discovered until it is too late. Mold can begin forming in as little as 24-48 hours. Any surfaces that are not dried properly are at risk.

Make the Call to Professionals

  • If not cleaned properly water on a property can become a very expensive problem. What seems like an easy cleanup can turn into a major project. Water seeps quickly and easily into walls, floors, and textiles. Neglect of any damp area can lead to major structural damage. Time is critical in minimizing damage.

  • Anytime you are dealing with raw sewage, this type of contamination is classified as a Category 3. This is the highest level and means that harmful biohazards including viruses, bacteria, and germs are present. The EPA recommends that a professional water restoration service should be used for everything but the most minor occurrences.

  • Certified water restoration professionals will have the proper training, experience, and equipment necessary to safely clean and restore the damaged area. They will take care in removing the water and sewage, removing any contaminated property, drying out the damaged area, and thoroughly sanitizing the contaminated area with high-grade cleaning products and techniques.

Make These Moves While You Wait

  • Shut off the power. You should never go into a wet area unless the power is turned off and you know it is safe. If you are unsure, wait for professionals to arrive.

  • Be sure all children and pets are cleared away from the affected area.

  • Do not approach the affected area unless you are wearing protective gear including safety glasses, rubber boots, and a face mask. Open windows and run fans for ventilation.

  • Stop all use of the household plumbing system to avoid cross contamination. This includes flushing toilets, turning on water in sinks, showers, or bathtubs, and running dishwashers or washing machines.

  • Avoid using DIY methods for removing the clog including chemical cleaners. These attempts will most likely not get deep enough to clear the system and chemical cleaners can damage pipes and sewer lines.

  • You may want to document the damages. If you need to file an insurance claim, you may need evidence of the impact and damages.


Water damage from an overflowing toilet should not be taken lightly. It may be tempting to handle the mess on your own but be sure you know the risks before you take on that type of cleanup. At Pro Response Restoration, we can easily handle this type of water damage disaster. Our goal is to get your home back to pre-damage condition as quickly as possible. We will take care of the mess and answer any questions you might have along the way. Our team is ready for your call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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