The Risks of Handling Water Damage Due to Toilet Overflow Yourself

The Risks of Handling Water Damage Due to Toilet Overflow Yourself

Toilet overflows are a common plumbing issue, but few people know how hazardous they can be to themselves and their homes. Whether it’s due to a malfunctioning pipe or a child’s stuck toy, a toilet overflow is much more than a slight inconvenience—particularly when it affects an upper floor or contains contaminated water.

If your Central Florida home has suffered water damage due to a toilet overflow, you need to take immediate action to avoid further damage to your home and your health. Central Florida Restoration Solutions provides quick and safe wastewater cleanup and decontamination for the affected areas in your home, restoring a safe living environment as quickly as possible. Our affiliation with experienced and reliable plumbers makes us a top resource for remediating toilet overflows and water damage restoration.

Four Possible Causes of Toilet Overflow

The four most common reasons for toilet overflow are clogged pipes, sewage issues, blocked vents, or a full septic tank. Since plumbing systems rely on gravity to work, when water can’t exit your home because of one of these issues, the result is an overflowing toilet. There could also be related water damage and mold growth.

1. Clogged Pipes

If large enough, a clog in your toilet or the pipes connecting to it can stop water from draining after you flush. Most of these clogs are caused by using too much toilet paper or personal wipes. Low-flow toilets often clog more easily than newer models, and people who have one or more of these in their homes may need to flush them more than once.

More minor clogs or those that aren’t too deep can often be fixed with a plunger, but if you’re unable to clear the clog on your own, a professional plumber can remove the blockage using more advanced tools like a manual or motorized drain snake, drain auger, or hydro-jet. If your toilet won’t flush and it appears it’s going to overflow:

  • Quickly shut off the water supply by turning the shutoff valve clockwise until it can’t turn anymore. If you have an older home without a shutoff valve behind the toilet, you’ll need to turn off the main water supply.
  • Flush the toilet to ensure the water is turned off. You can do this by removing the tank lid and lifting the float lever in the tank. If the water hasn’t turned off, more water will start to enter the tank when you push the lever back down.
  • Clean up any water so it doesn’t soak into your flooring or drywall, where it can cause extensive damage.
  • Disinfect all surfaces the water touched as it could contain sewage and harmful bacteria.

If you notice raw sewage in the water, it’s best to have it cleaned up by an expert who has the proper protective gear to prevent dangerous illnesses.

2. Blocked Vents

Plumbing vents are vertical pipes that connect to all your Central Florida home’s plumbing fixtures. They let air into your pipes to replace the air used to force your toilet to flush. Most plumbing vents have an outlet on the roof. If that outlet gets clogged with leaves or other debris, it can drain slowly or stop draining altogether. You might also notice bad smells or bubbling sounds after the toilet is flushed, even if it doesn’t overflow. Removing debris completely and safely can be challenging. You should consider calling in a professional plumber with the right equipment to clean out plumbing vents.

3. Sewage Issues

The pipes running from your Central Florida home to the main sewer line out on the street can easily suffer blockage due to tree roots. When products like wet wipes and paper towels are flushed down a toilet, they can in a relatively short amount of time form a clog. In fact, even products labeled “flushable” usually aren’t, as they don’t break down as quickly as toilet paper. Clogged sewer lines can cause an overflowing toilet or, worse, a flooded basement, though most Central Florida homeowners don’t need to worry about the latter. What matters most is that a great deal of water and sewage can back up into your home and do significant damage.

Note: If you shut off your main water supply and the toilet is still overflowing, there might be a clog in a municipal sewer line. In that case, contact your local sewer department immediately and ask them to check out the problem.

4. A Full Septic Tank

If your home has a septic tank, you could have a similar issue like that with a municipal sewer line. Septic tanks store waste and release excess water into the soil around them. When your septic tank is full, or when the water can’t escape for some other reason, your toilet will overflow. Regular septic tank maintenance can help you avoid this toilet overflow scenario.

How Toilet Overflow Can Damage Your Central Florida Home

Any time you have a flooding situation in your home, it’s crucial to contact a water damage restoration company that offers 24/7 emergency services. The sooner you start toilet overflow remediation steps like cleaning, drying, and sanitizing, the more quickly damage restoration can begin.

A toilet overflow, like all water intrusion events, can cause devastating unseen damage to your home’s structure. It can be even more destructive when the overflowing toilet is located on an upper floor, where it can damage the lower floor’s ceiling and flooring, too. Unfortunately, a lot of water damage from a toilet overflow isn’t visible to the naked eye. That’s why it’s so critical to have a professional water damage restoration company inspect your home and do a water damage cleanup.

Depending on your home’s layout and the location of the overflowing toilet, water may seep into or entirely destroy:

  • Drywall
  • Flooring, baseboards, and carpeting
  • Ceilings and walls in lower level rooms
  • Bathtubs and shower tiling
  • Door trims
  • Cabinets
  • Electrical wiring
  • Any uninsulated areas, like underneath cabinets

How Water Damage From Toilet Overflow is Assessed

Since you might not see the full extent of the damage, it’s important not to assume there isn’t any. If you put off getting a professional opinion, the damage will only get worse as more time passes. A professional water remediation and restoration company will assess both the water quality and the water loss class.

The three categories of water quality are:

  1. Category 1: Clean Water – is sanitary and doesn’t pose a threat to your family’s health. Category 1 water intrusion typically comes from a broken water supply line.
  2. Category 2: Grey Water – has been contaminated to some degree and could cause illness.
  3. Category 3: Black Water – poses the most danger. It includes raw sewage, bacteria, fungus, and other microorganisms that could cause severe symptoms and illnesses.

The four classes of water loss include:

  • Class 1 – when just low-porosity and low-permeability materials like wood floors, linoleum, and tile are affected.
  • Class 2  – when water has damaged the whole bathroom or other areas of your house.
  • Class 3 – when virtually all areas, including ceilings, flooring, carpeting, insulation, furniture, and more have been saturated with overflowing water.
  • Class 4 – when low-permeability, low-porosity materials like stone, concrete, and hardwood are saturated.

There are a couple of steps you should take after toilet overflow water damage:

  • Contact your insurance agent or company as soon as possible. Many policies have mitigation clauses that require you to prevent further damage to your home. That makes it doubly important to hire a professional as soon as possible to assess the problem. CFRS can help you handle any issues with your insurance company claims process.
  • Don’t attempt to fix the affected areas yourself. Unless you have experience in home construction, you could make matters worse. And if your Central Florida home was built before 1980, you may inadvertently uncover and release asbestos fibers.

Health Risks Associated With Sewage Exposure

Most of us take our home’s sewer lines for granted. We flush the toilet or drain a bath and the waste and water disappear down the drain, never to be seen again. But when a toilet overflows and it includes sewage, it’s a very serious and hazardous situation. The vast number of micro-organic contaminants that thrive in sewage water means it takes only a small amount of exposure to make someone ill.

Many homeowners believe bleaching or vigorously scrubbing the affected areas can take care of the problem, but the contaminants that live in your sewer line can resist or even deactivate the sanitizing properties of bleach. A professional will help you decide if you need to dispose of any porous materials like carpets and upholstery. The bottom line is that the microorganisms found in sewer lines can be hazardous to your family’s health. And they’re usually tricky to get rid of without the services of a professional water damage remediation and restoration company.

Diseases associated with raw sewage exposure are not to be underestimated or downplayed. They include:

  • Campylobacteriosis – symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, nausea, cramping, and vomiting.
  • Cryptosporidiosis – causes fever, diarrhea, upset stomach, and stomach cramps.
  • Dysentery and E. coli – caused by inadvertently ingesting contaminated fecal water. Symptoms include fever, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea.
  • Gastroenteritis or stomach flu – causes fever, headaches, watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting.
  • Giardiasis – from the Giardia parasite, causes upset stomach, cramps, and diarrhea.
  • Hepatitis A – a viral liver disease with symptoms including fatigue, fever, jaundice, and abdominal pain.
  • Salmonellosis – which causes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
  • Typhoid fever – a bacterial disease that can cause headaches, rash, high fever, cough, weakness, stomach pains, and loss of appetite.

As with all water damage situations, another significant risk from a toilet overflow is mold growth. Mold can start growing in your home within 24 to 48 hours after there’s been a toilet overflow. And once it begins to grow, you’ll be dealing with colonies of mold you can see, but mold spores that you can’t. If people inhale these spores, it can lead to mild or severe allergic reactions, even in those who don’t usually have allergy issues.

Toilet Overflow Water Damage Restoration

Hopefully, any toilet clogs you have can be fixed quickly before you have an overflow that causes water damage. If you do have to deal with a toilet overflow situation, CFRS’ remediation, restoration, and repair of water damage can help keep damages to a minimum.

Why risk your and your family’s health by trying to handle a toilet overflow by yourself? Water damage restoration experts have the protective gear and professional-grade equipment needed and are trained and certified to use it correctly. If you’re a Central Florida homeowner dealing with a toilet overflow or any other home flooding, we’re here to give you the help you need. We have over 20 years of experience mitigating water damage, including damage caused by a toilet overflow. We also provide mold damage, fire damage, and smoke damage services. To learn more, contact CFRS today.

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