Overflowing Toilets

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by seekermeister, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. seekermeister

    seekermeister New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    I live in an apartment complex, and in two different units, in which the toilets have overflowed without stopping, until I intervened. The first time was in the middle of the night, and when I awoke hours later, the floor and carpet was soaked.

    This has happened recently in the unit that I now occupy, but fortunately I caught it much earlier, but still had to wade through the flood.

    I fully understand the cause and solution for a stopped up toilet, but I don't understand how it is possible for the water to be allowed to continue running after the tank has been emptied, especially since this only seems to happen when the toilet has become stopped up.

    Is there something about a toilet's design that would cause this problem? I have never run into this problem before.
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,487
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    overflow

    The tank has a functional problem, in that the seal at the bottom is NOT closing. Therefore the fill valve NEVER turns off, and ALL its water goes into the now filled toilet bowl and overflows. Whatever the cause is, it does not only happen when the toilet is plugged, but that is when it becomes a problem. REPAIR the toilet and it will not happen.
  3. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Call a plumber to come, diagnose, and correct the problem....

    Unless you like cleaning your rugs on a regular basis...
  4. seekermeister

    seekermeister New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    No, if that were the case, I could hear the water running, and could see water going into the bowl. Normally I can't.
  5. seekermeister

    seekermeister New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    My plumber is the apartment maintenance man. The last time that I had him deal with this, he simply snaked the bowl, but nothing else. That dealt with the clogging issue, but he had no more idea than I do about how/why the syncronization of the water running would be tied to that.
  6. seekermeister

    seekermeister New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    It appears that I had to make an actual post to edit the email subscription, ergo I post.
  7. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    A maintenance man is not necessarily a licensed plumber...a competent plumber should be able to correct the situation...

    Call a plumber not the maintenance man...or just keep cleaning your rugs...
  8. seekermeister

    seekermeister New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Since you are a plumber, it is understandable why you would support the idea of paying a plumber, but I'm retired on a limited income, and do not want to pay for something that my complex is willing to tend to. The reason I posted my thread is in hope of obtaining some kind of useful information, rather than what you have posted.
  9. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    It is not necessarily the idea if paying a plumber that we are pushing.

    We give lots of help here to people that DIY and seeing as your handy maintenance man is useless you need a plumber.

    Your toilet has several problems and your handyman is not addressing all the problems the toilet has.

    Until you have a competent person work on the toilet your problems will continue.

    Your toilet is clogging and there is water leaking from the tank into the bowl which requires repairs.
  10. seekermeister

    seekermeister New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Even if I were willing to pay a plumber, finding a "competent" one is not as easy as going to the Yellow Pages. My last experience with a plumber, several years back before I retired, was when a renter that I had, had a daughter who pumped tampons down the toilet, throughly stopping it up. My lease agreement stated that the renter had to contact me about such a problem, rather than contracting anyone themselves. They ignored this, and the plumber that they used got his rooter hung in the vent pipe on the roof, and left it dangling there.

    When I spoke with him, he refused to remove it, unless I agreed to pay him for digging up the yard to retreive it. I later contacted a different plumber, which did remove the rooter, but since the sewer pipe was made of Orangeburg pipe, it was damaged beyond repair, without replacing the entire line.

    My point being that I like to understand a situation for myself and deal with it as I see fit. If I had to use a professional for every problem that I have to deal with, I wouldn't have enough money left for the basics of living.

    I had assumed that this forum was here for the purpose of helping it's members, not just hawk them. It now seems apparent that this thread is going nowhere, so it can now be closed.
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,487
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    overflowing

    1. YOU do not know why it overflowed.
    2. Since YOU do not know, how are WE supposed to know what happened?
    3. If we do NOT know the problem, how do you propose we tell you how to fix it.
    4. If YOU don't know what is wrong, and we CANNOT tell you how to fix it, the only OTHER option is to call a plumber. PERIOD.
    5. This is a DIY site, but we do NOT have crystal balls, are not omniscient, or miracle workers. WE do need a little help from the consumer, and/but sometimes the best DIY advice is DO NOT DO IT. Call someone who knows what he/she is doing before you turn a simple repair into a minor, or major, remodel job. You would not be the first person who tried to avoid a $125.00 repair and wound up with a $1,000.00 one by the time he had destroyed whatever he was trying to fix.​
  12. seekermeister

    seekermeister New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Thanks for confirming the fact that asking for information on this forum is futile. Generally, a person asks a question, then responds as appropriate to provide all necessary information at hand from their end. This did not occur here. What facts that I did provide were ignored, which means that they were considered untrue. If one person doesn't believe the other, then any conversation between them is not going to bear any fruit.

    I stand by my previous statement that this thread should be closed, so that it doesn't discourage anyone else from asking a question.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2009
  13. DIYourselfer

    DIYourselfer New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    New York
    Seekermeister,

    HJ answered your original post 16 minutes after you posted it. Can't really get much better than that.

    Your issue is something is causing the water to run. The flapper might not be sealing because it is old broken or the chain is getting caught if it is too long. The fill valve may not be adjusted right or it is broken.

    Normally, the water would just fill the bowl and the water would rise and then flush itself when it reached a certain level. IF THE TOILET IS STUFFED UP THE WATER WILL OVERFLOW. If you unstuff the toilet, you STILL have a problem in the tank.

    Go to Home Depot or Lowes or Ace and get a complete repair kit for your toilet. Less than $25. You will replace the fill valve, flush valve and flapper. That will stop the water from running into the bowl.

    Have a nice day.

    P.S. I am NOT a licensed plumber but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
  14. jastori

    jastori New Member

    Messages:
    118
    Location:
    Illinois
    (disclaimer - not a pro)

    If the toilet continues to overflow, there are only two reasons I can think of:

    1> Water is continuing to enter from the fill value into the tank into the bowl. This should not happen regardless of whether the toilet is clogged or not. Even though you did not hear the water running, it could be a slow leak from the tank to the bowl, and the valve may be opening only ocassionally. If this is the problem the fix is very simple. For about $30, you can (usually) replace all of the mechanical components inside the tank if you want to do it yourself. It is an easy job for a plumber if you want to hire it out. You could try to push your maintenance person to do it, however you indicated that he may not be willing or qualified.

    2> The stoppage is downstream of (not inside) your toilet, and the overflow is caused by water usage from other apartments or from other fixtures in your own apartment. It this case the fix would be sewer line cleaning / snaking.
  15. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    seekermeister:

    This is, in my opinion as a homeowner and DIY'er, far and away the best and most helpful plumbing site around. The pros and amateurs freely give of their time, experience, and wisdom, and it serves no good purpose to complain that the advice you are getting is unhelpful.

    If you can simmer down a little, and provide a little more info, you may just get the help you are seeking. A picture of the inside of the toilet tanks in question could go a long ways to understanding the problem.
  16. Nate R

    Nate R New Member

    Messages:
    472
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Agreed. I don't know what you expect them to do. If the building's handyman can't figure it out, he shouldn't be working on the problem further. Who's the next in line? A plumber. What did you expect to be told? Jiggle the handle and it will never happen again?

    Even if we tell you the likely reason(s) for the problem, (which has been done) does that mean your handyman will agree and fix it correctly?
  17. RRW

    RRW New Member

    Messages:
    91
    Location:
    Illinois
    How many floors in the bldngs?
    What floor are the problem apartments on?
    Exactly what did youi do to "intervene"?
    You say it only happens when the toilet is stopped up, but surely you don't leave a toilet stopped up in your own unit and just go to bed, do you?

    Also, take the top off the tank and leave it off while you observe what is happening at all phases when a problem does not happen, and when it does not.

    Is water constantly flowing into the top of the upright tube in the tank between flushes?
  18. Joe the Plumber

    Joe the Plumber Pluumbing, of course

    Messages:
    49
    I agree that you don't need a license to peer into a toilet.
    Common sense will tell you that.

    I bet most any book keeper could figure out a simple thing like a plugged toilet leaking all over the carpet.

    I would guess, even without looking, that the toilet has a beef with you.
    What in the heck did you do!
    Why is the toilet so set up and angry that it's now puking up water all over your nice carpets?

    I would look into that tank, and say "Baby, I'm sorry."
    That's right, just apoligize. That's whay I would do.
    And don't be giving money to someone just because they have a license.
    Heck, I know guys that go to school four extra years, and they think they know everything.
    And yet, they saddle themselves with lawyers, doctors, book keepers, even people that mow their lawns.
    It just doesn't make any sense.
  19. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,329
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    One point that really hasn't been touched on in this discussion is whether you are even allowed to do any repairs yourself. Many, maybe even most, condos and apartment complexes prohibit non licensed people do plumbing, construction, or electrical work. Further more, repairs are not usually paid for by residents. It would seem to me that if your handyman can't fix the problem, you need to deal with the complex owner and insist that a licensed plumber be contracted by them to deal with the problem.
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