Water Damage Due to Toilet Overflow: Do’s and Don’ts

Toilet overflow is something that no one wants to think about, and that most of us don’t. But when it happens (whether it’s due to a malfunctioning pipe or a stuck barbie doll) it’s far more than a slight inconvenience, especially if the affected area is on an upper floor or filled with contaminated water.

If you’re facing water damage from toilet overflow, you need to make sure you take the correct steps to avoid further destruction to your home–and your health.

How Toilet Overflow Can Damage Your Home

Depending on the layout and location of the bathroom within your house, water from an overflowing toilet can seep into or fully destroy:

  • Drywall
  • Electrical wiring
  • Flooring/baseboards
  • Ceilings of lower level rooms
  • Shower tiling
  • Bathtubs
  • Door trims
  • Cabinets
  • Carpeting
  • Any uninsulated areas, like underneath cabinets

How Water Damage is Assessed

Once you call a professional such as AFC Flood and Fire to take a look at the affected area, they will assess it based on the quality of the water and the class of water loss.

There are 3 categories of water quality:

  • Category 1 (clean water) is water is sanitary and does not pose a threat to health; this usually comes from a broken water supply line.
  • Category 2 (“grey water”) is water that has been contaminated to some degree and can cause illness.
  • Category 3 (“black water”) is the most dangerous, and includes raw sewage, fungus, bacteria, and other microorganisms that can cause severe sickness.  

In addition, there are 4 classes of water loss dependent on the magnitude of damage:

  • Class 1 is when only low-porosity and low-permeability materials in the area are affected. This means materials like linoleum, wood floors and fixtures, and tile.
  • Class 2 is when the water has affected whole room/area of the house. This includes structures and up to two feet of water seepage up any walls.
  • Class 3 is when virtually all of the area has been saturated with the overflowing water. Ceilings, insulation, structures, furniture, cushions, carpeting, and more are affected.
  • Class 4 is when low-porosity, low-permeability materials like concrete, stone, and hardwood are saturated. Since the water can get caught in hard-to-reach pockets, they evaporate more slowly and require special techniques to dry.

DO’s and DON’Ts of Handling Toilet Overflow

DO contact a professional (and your insurance) as soon as possible.
Even if you’re insured for water damage, many insurance companies include a mitigation clause that requires you to prevent further destruction to your home. If you don’t hire someone in a timely manner to assess the issue, your insurance may refuse you coverage. AFC is available 24/7 to respond to your needs, start repairs, and help you through the insurance claim process–immediately.

DO hire a trusted professional to reconstruct the water-damaged areas of your home.
Even if you have experience in home construction, do not attempt to fix the affected areas yourself. This is especially true if your house was built before 1980: homeowners who try to demolish affected drywall may be exposed to asbestos. Make sure that the company is IICRC certified and up-to-date on training.

DO NOT try to clean up the flooding yourself.
Category 2 and 3 water is dangerous for you and your family’s health. Even short-term exposure to the pathogens can cause sickness. Contain the water if you can, but make sure to stay away from the affected area until professionals arrive.

DO NOT assume that there is no damage because it isn’t immediately visible.
Unfortunately, since the full extent of the damage often isn’t visible to the naked eye, many homeowners think that there isn’t any and often fail to get professional help before things get even worse. For example, if your bathroom is on an upper level, this could lead to collapse in the ceiling of the lower level.

DO NOT ventilate the area before help arrives.
While it might help reduce odors and dry the area, it also spreads any possible pathogens throughout the house.

At AFC, we know how frustrating it can be navigating the restoration process to your home after water damage. If you’re a San Diego homeowner facing the effects of toilet overflow (or any other home flooding), we’re here to give you the help you need, when you need it–so you can go back to living your life.

Learn more about our services or call us today 1-833-DRY-IT-UP for a consultation.

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