One of the most frustrating and prevalent plumbing issues for homeowners and property managers is a finicky toilet, especially one that fills up with too much water after you flush it. Water filling up too high in your toilet is a recipe for disaster to both your property and your pocketbook. A toilet that fills up with too much water is regularly wasting water, costing you more on your energy bills, and the worst-case scenario could cause an overflow.
An overflow can be particularly nasty as water from the toilet and sewage system could spill onto your floor and cause massive property damage. I have seen many homeowners deal extensive damage to their wood or vinyl flooring due to an overflowing toilet. Water filling up too high in your toilet is an issue that should be taken seriously, but most of the time it only requires a simple fix. You might not even need a plumber if you are handy enough to get the job done.
The first thing you need to do is identify why your toilet is filling up with too much water. Here are a few potential reasons why this could be happening.
The Toilet May Be Clogged
This is the easiest and most common reason to identify. The most likely reason your toilet bowl is filling up is that your toilet is clogged. Q-tips, feminine products, clothing, too much toilet paper, and human waste are all products that clog toilets frequently. For reference, here is a complete list of things you should not flush.
If a clog is causing the high water level in the bathroom, the obvious fix is to remove the object causing the clog. Most of the time, you can remove a clog by using a simple plunger. If the plunger is not working, then I would recommend using a manual snake auger. An auger will allow you to get deeper into your plumbing and break down the waste or object causing the clog. They also come in handy when trying to break a clog in other drains.
If the clog is still not fixed after using a plunger or auger, then the repair becomes more complicated. If you have a harder and bigger object clogging the toilet, you’ll have to turn off the water flowing to the bathroom and remove the toilet completely. You then need to insert an auger from the bottom of the toilet and try to push out the object from the top. This situation can seem a little ridiculous, but I have responded to clogs caused by young children flushing their toys on more than one occasion. You might also be seeing the opposite problem where the toilet water doesn't flush completely.
If you don’t feel comfortable removing your own toilet, then I would recommend calling a plumber.
The Fill Valve May Be Broken
Worn down or broken parts is another common reason why a toilet will fill up too much with water. A broken fill valve is a common reason why a toilet has too much water flow. The fill valve is a part that controls the flow of new water from your tank to your toilet.
You can usually locate the fill valve on the back left side of your toilet, and you can spot it because it has a long piece that connects to the top of the supply tube. When a fill valve goes bad, it’s unable to keep water from leaking out of the fill valve, which causes the toilet to keep filling up with water.
The valve usually goes bad because the rubber washers on the fill valve begin to crack over time. The worse the crack, the more your toilet will fill up with water. You can usually tell if the fill valve needs to be replaced because you will see water constantly running into the bowl, and you will usually hear a hissing sound coming from the toilet.
Replacing the fill valve on your toilet is a straightforward fix. A replacement fill valve will cost you around $30. To replace the valve, you need to turn the toilet water off, take the lid off the tank, and remove the plastic nut that holds the fill valve. Put in the new fill valve and reattach the plastic nut. Replacing the fill valve is a really easy job for any DIY enthusiast. Consider making it part of your routine plumbing maintenance check.
A Busted Toilet Lever
A toilet lever that is busted and stuck in the flush position will cause your toilet bowl to fill up with water. If you own a dual flush toilet that doesn't use levers, you can ignore this.
This one is easy to spot because the lever on your toilet won’t move from the flush position when you try to flush it. This is usually an uncomplicated repair where you purchase your standard tank lever to remove the broken one by unscrewing the bolts attached. Then you just install the new lever.
Your standard lever will work on a vast majority of toilets; however, some higher-end and low-flow toilets require a special lever. Newer levers might not be readily available at your local department store and may require you to call the manufacturer to get the part you need.
A Broken Flush Valve
A broken flush valve is another common reason your toilet will fill up too much or in other cases cause the tank not to fill. You can spot the flush valve by seeing the big rubber flapper in the center of the toilet. The flapper moves up and down when you flush it. The flush valve sits in water all day, making it prone to crack and deteriorate over time. If your flush valve is broken, you will hear a hissing noise coming from the toilet as well as seeing water flow into the bowl.
You can usually test to see if your flush valve is cracked by putting red food coloring in your tank, and if the water in the toilet bowl turns red, you have a crack in the flush valve. Repairing the flush valve is a more complicated repair since you have to take the tank and the toilet bowl apart to install it. I recommend calling a plumber for this job.
Overall, If you find the toilet bowl is filling up with too much water, it’s essential you identify and fix the issue. Doing so will save you money on your water bill and prevent property damage due to a toilet bowl overflowing. The problem is commonly a simple fix, so it’s the perfect job for any handy property owner or homeowner and a simple job for your local plumber.