Unfortunately, not all plumbing emergencies happen during business hours. If you are having toilet troubles after hours, you may be unsure whether it is worthwhile to call in an emergency plumber to deal with the problem. The following information can help you make the right decision.
Is the toilet overflowing?
An overflowing toilet is never fun. It can also lead to major water damage if you don't solve the problem right away. Start by removing the lid to the tank. Find the flapper and push it closed to immediately stop the running water. In some cases, the flapper chain may simply have been caught and this is all that is necessary to fix the problem. If the toilet continues to overflow when you release the flapper, then turn off the water supply to the toilet so that it will quit overflowing until you are able to get a plumber on site.
Is there a crack in the tank or bowl?
Cracks that are leaking water in the tank or bowl of the toilet are rarely a major emergency, unless the flow is so great that the bowl is emptying quickly or the toilet is constantly running. For a minor crack, simply place a towel to soak up any moisture until you can call a plumber in the morning. If the crack is large or the toilet seems structurally unsound, then you should stop using it until you can have it replaced by a plumber.
Can you flush the toilet?
There's many reasons why a toilet fails to flush, but rarely are they an emergency. If necessary, you can usually force a flush by removing the lid and lifting the flapper manually. If the toilet isn't flushing because the tank isn't refilling, then try pouring water into the tank to help the process along. You can then call a plumber in the morning for a permanent fix.
Is sewage backing up into your home?
An overflowing toilet after use is one thing, but if sewage is coming up the toilet drain then you likely are dealing with a clogged sewer main. You will need to immediately stop the use of all drains in your home to help stop the flow, but even this may not be enough the problem is a backup from a municipal line. Don't try to deal with raw sewage on your on, as it is a major biohazard. Instead, call an emergency plumber right away.
Do you have a backup to use?
Finally, consider whether you have any other options while the toilet is out of commission. If you only have one toilet in your home and no neighbors you can call on, then even a minor issue means you need an immediate fix.
Contact a plumber for more assistance.