Clogged Toilet Damage?


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Old 02-08-12, 04:29 PM
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Question Clogged Toilet Damage?

Question for the plumbers here: Can a plugged toilet (with TP or some other object) cause a continuous overflow?

Here's the background: My 94-year-old father who lives in a senior apartment, evidently plugged his toilet by accident, flushed and left for the store. When he returned, he found the toilet had flooded his apartment, the hall, and seeped into the apartment below. The water had been running for about three hours. The building wants to put him on the hook for repairs.

From what I understand, and that certainly can be wrong, a clogged toilet normally should only cause a minor overflow. With the outlet blocked, the bowl will fill until the tank shuts the water off normally, and if the bowl overflows, it should at max be the volume of the tank. It seems to me there must have been something else wrong with the toilet to cause the water to run continuously, and with the outlet blocked, would cause the flood. Am I wrong here? Please let me know, or straighten me out on my understanding. I appreciate your help!
 
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Old 02-08-12, 04:43 PM
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You are absolutely correct. If the toilet was functioning correctly...then it would dump the tank, refill the tank, and any excess due to a blocked drain pipe would be dumped out on the floor...maybe 3-5 gallons max.

Unless he somehow dropped something in the tank to jam the linkage...it should stop.

If there were some other circumstances we aren't aware of (towel jamming the flush lever down, abuse of some sort) then he shouldn't be liable. I sure don't stand there waiting for the toilet to finish it's cycle every time I go.
 
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Old 02-08-12, 06:05 PM
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You might ask a sharp plumber to inspect the toilet to see of small mistakes were made in installation. For example maybe the flapper was installed incorrectly which caused it to not seat correctly allowing water to continuously flow into the bowl. It is also possible the flapper or its seat were old and needed replacing.
 
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Old 02-08-12, 08:42 PM
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A senior apartment I would assume a pressure assist toilet, or does it have a flapper?

Now are you sure the toilet was running? Possibly someone just said it was because water was coming up from the bowl.

I have went on many service calls in apartments where there was a clogg just past the toilet and on the stack for the apartment above it. Or even the one behind it because in a commercial building they are usally back to back toilets.

With that said water use in other units would flood up the lower unit commonly out the toilet. Depending on where the clogg was it sometimes comes out the toilet and the tub/shower.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 02-09-12, 08:21 AM
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Re: Clogged Toilet Damage

Thanks for the replies. This gives me some things to check out. I wasn't there, so I don't know all the facts. I've got his version and the building manager's version, which of course differ. I can accept he plugged the toilet -- they said they couldn't get a snake through when they came on the scene -- but there are a number of things you all have pointed out that we don't know, and I should check on. As my original question implied, it doesn't explain why the water kept running. It seems reasonable that his toilet was the water source, as it is ground zero for the damage, but I don't know for sure.

It was an older, non-pressure assist toilet (the old 5gpf kind). That's been replaced now.

Thinking of adding an overflow detector/valve. Have any of you seen these in action and find them reliable?

I am my dad's power-of-attorney and am trying to look out for his interests and make sure he doesn't get stuck for more than he is responsible for.
 
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Old 02-09-12, 08:41 AM
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One thing to add. . .

My dad admits he could have plugged it up -- he had to use a more than usual TP his last trip in -- the disagreement centers around whether there was something else wrong or not.

I understand that it could be as simple as on that last flush the chain got looped or stuck somewhere, keeping the flapper open, but again, we don't know, and that would seem to be an unfortunate coincidence.

This whole incident makes we wonder even more why there are not floor drains in all bathrooms, especially in commercial property. I know it wouldn't prevent all problems, but if it was just a toilet plug, then the water could drain past the toilet. Oh well. . . .
 
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Old 02-09-12, 09:30 AM
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You did not describe how the units are laid out in regards to the baths. Upstairs, back to back????

Like I said , another unit could have caused the clogg elsware in the line and your fathers was the low one. Saying they were not able to get the clogg would lead me to believe possibly the clogg was farther down.

Maybe his toilet always ran and a clogg developed from elsewhere.

You never know because of the three sides of the story. Your fathers, the managements, and the truth.

All in all unless you have better facts its hard to tell. If it seems it was your fathers toilet then accept it for what it is.

Dont know about any auto water off devices. Most activate if a set GPM is exceeded. A normal constant toilet fill will not activate it. But there may be something out there.


Mike NJ
 
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Old 02-09-12, 09:39 AM
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Not really a shut off device....but they make fill valves that have to be reset with a push of the flush lever. Once the tank fills and it shuts off, if the tank level drops because of a leak, the fill valve won't open again until the lever is pushed. If you ever go to flush and there's no water.....you know you have a leak. Friend back in VA used them in his rentals.

Don't think it would have helped in this case...just wanted to throw it out there.
 
 

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