An overflowing toilet is most often caused by blockages in the plumbing, or a defect in the ball-cock mechanism that regulates water flow in the cistern.
The combination of these two elements is disastrous. Not only does the ball-cock fail to halt the rise of water inside the cistern after flushing, but a blockage in the plumbing means that water cannot escape, and so rises unchecked.
If you notice a toilet is beginning to overflow, there are a couple of immediate steps you can take if your plumber cannot get to you immediately.
1. Switch off the supply valve
Most toilet have a supply line near the bottom side of the bowl, with a valve. If you notice an overflow, turn this valve to prevent water flow to the toilet. If this does not work, try step 2…
2. Manually raise the ball-cock
Lift the ball-cock high enough to make the water stop running. Again, if the water continues to flow, try step 3
3. Switch off the water supply to the house
Locate the internal stop-cock that controls water supply to the house. Turn this valve to the right to shut down the water supply to the home.
While all of these solutions will temporarily leave you without the use of a toilet, or water in the house, it’s best to avoid the further cost of damage that can arise from an overflowing toilet.