As a Master Certified Restorer we know that toilets are fairly simple plumbing fixtures, yet water damage from a toilet overflow or flood is the type of loss we see most often. There are 4 main reasons that can cause a toilet to malfunction, however, determining the reason may not be that simple. Knowing the exact reason as well as the source of a loss is important to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
The 4 Main Reasons Toilets Flood or Leak
- Blockage. Water and other matter overflowing the bowl is the result of a blockage. Sometimes clearing the blockage is as simple as flushing the toilet or giving it a quick plunger treatment. This usually indicates the blockage was local or in the toilet itself. It is possible the blockage was farther down the drain line and caused by roots or some other trapped material. Water coming out of the toilet bowl is considered category 2 type water (Gray water) or Category 3 (Black water). Knowing which is which, and how to work with either is essential to ensuring proper restoration.
- Water Supply Line or Valve. This source is usually easier to determine and is considered a Category 1 (fresh/clean water) loss. Toilet water supply lines have a plastic or nylon nut that connects at the base of the toilet water tank. This nut can often fail or crack; especially if it was over tightened when installed. The water supply line itself can also fail as well. In fact, there is currently a class action lawsuit ongoing against a toilet supply line manufacturing company.
- Toilet Tank Components. The components inside the toilet water tank can fail or work improperly causing the toilet to “run.” When this occurs, water can slowly and continuously flow into the toilet bowl. This can cause the toilet bowl to overflow even if there is no blockage. Never ignore a “running” toilet. If you notice this condition check the water tank float mechanism. The float rises as water enters the tank and should close off the incoming water before water reaches the open tube near the top of the tank. Float shutoff level is adjustable. If you see small ripples in the toilet bowl water, and the running toilet starts and stops; the leak is probably from a bad tank flap at the base of the water tank.
- Wax Ring. Every toilet has thick wax ring that should create a seal from the toilet to the outgoing drain pipe. These wax rings can fail over time or fail if improperly installed. Seeing water seeping out only at the base of the toilet indicates the ring may have failed. If the toilet has a complete chalk seal at the floor this may not be detected quickly and could cause significant damage to a sub-floor or rooms below it. The toilet will need to be removed in order to install a new ring.