Flooded bathroom? What to do first…
We’ve all been there. Sometimes the kids leave the tap running, sometimes it’s us adults. Who or whatever’s to blame, don’t panic. A flooded bathroom is a fairly common situation and knowing the immediate steps to take can minimise the consequences as well as any lasting damage. This article will cover what to do when you discover a bathroom flood or leak, how to fix it and what to do about water damage.
We do always recommend hiring an experienced professional to find and fix the cause of a leak, and help avoid causing further damage, so if you’re ankle-deep in water, follow the guide below, then get in touch with us.
Steps to take if your bathroom floods
Here’s what to do as soon as you notice the flood:
1. Quickly identify where the leak is before you shut off the water
Determine the exact source of the flood water. Then if it’s a single fixture like a toilet overflowing, shut it off at the isolation valve. To shut off the mains water supply you must know where your stop tap is (It can be under the kitchen sink, under your cold water tank in the attic or even outside. If you’re a new homeowner, read our article on different types of home water systems, so you know where to find yours – different types of home water systems.
You can try and fix the leak if you can, but we would recommend calling in a professional plumber for most repairs.
2. Shut off electricity
Go to your circuit breaker panel to shut off your lighting and sockets circuits, to eliminate the risk of electrocution via your bathroom light or shaver socket. You don’t want to enter a water-soaked environment with outlets and light fixtures still on.
Your fuse box or consumer unit is likely to be under the stairs in a house, or close to the front door in a flat.
3. Remove standing water
Use anything you can – a mop, old towels, newspaper – to absorb the water and get it into buckets or down a drain. If you have a wet/dry vacuum cleaner, use that. If you have severe flooding, you may need to call a water damage clean-up service.
4. Save your possessions
Clear your bathroom cabinets and any other storage in contact with the wet floor. Check these areas for damage, and work out what kind of clean-up they need.
How to fix the water leak in your bathroom
Before you fix a leak, you’ve got to find it, and sometimes it’s not obvious where it is! Check pipes, valves, fittings, damp patches and joins and you will eventually find the source of your flooding problem.
Our how to detect a water leak guide gives you a lot more detail on leak detecting. Fixing leaks requires different tools and solutions, depending on whether it’s a leaky copper pipe, a plastic pipe, so before you crack open the epoxy putty, read our how to fix water leaks guide for some detailed guidance depending on what’s leaking. You may prefer to get professional help at this stage, in which case get in touch with and we’ll be on our way.
How to clean up following a flood
After you’ve had a serious flood in your bathroom, there are certain precautions to take when removing water and drying your room.
Remove the water
Get rid of the excess water as soon as you can with mops, towels, buckets – and a wet/dry vacuum cleaner will be very useful to you in these circumstances.
Dry the room
Open the windows (and even the cabinet doors). If you’ve removed all the water you can, put a couple of fans in there to get the air circulating and start the drying process. It may take days to get rid of the moisture. You can get our full guide to a good post-flood clean-up here.
What to do if the flood is in another room
The principles are the same. Act fast to avoid lasting damage, shut off the water and the electricity, remove as much water as possible, then dry out the room. Read how to remove water after a flood for more information.
Common causes of a flooded bathroom
Bathroom floods can happen when:
As we said above, the worst thing you can do is repeatedly flush, as more water will sit on top of the blockage with nowhere to go, but up and out onto your bathroom floor. You need to isolate the toilet (find its isolation valve or shut off your mains water if needed), then unclog the toilet, possibly with a plunger or a plumber’s snake. Read our guide on to how to unblock a toilet and you’ll be able to resolve this with speed.
A leaking shower that creates a flood in the bathroom may involve broken tapware or fittings, it could be a burst pipe behind the wall or it could be a hairline crack in your shower tray. Again, shut off the water as soon as you become aware of the flooding, then cut the power to the bathroom. Once you’ve mopped up, you can address the problem. Read our guide to troubleshooting and fixing a leaking shower for your next steps. Get general tips on how to detect a leak here and there’s some more advice on common water leaks in the home and how to fix them here.
In a busy household with children running amok and a to-do list of a thousand tasks, a flooded bath can easily happen. Even an overflow in tip-top shape can only handle so much excess water until it’s defeated and submerged. What to do? Close the tap as soon as you can, pull out the plug, mop up and save your stuff.
How to prevent it ever happening again? Give yourself five minutes of peace and quiet by chaperoning the bath as it fills. If your children are old enough to be left in a room without you, you could even lock the door and do some deep breathing exercises or calmly drink a cup of tea on your own. Go on, you deserve it.
Child flooded the bathroom
Speaking of kids, those little darlings can often be the cause of bathroom flooding. They often leave the tap running after washing their hands with the plug in. They do things with wet tissue that we just can’t fathom, getting it down the sink and in the bath drain and overflow.
You’ll sometimes find the odd plastic toy down the toilet and, once children are in the bath themselves, they may decide to create their own tidal wave machine, shunting their bodies back and forth, spraying great splashes onto the floor like a ocean-faring speed boat. Your only solace is that you probably did it too! Keeping plenty of towels handy and getting them to mop it up themselves may prevent a replay.
Pipe and plumbing issues
A burst or blocked pipe can very easily cause a bathroom flood. Supply lines come into the sink, toilet, bath, behind the shower and even a bidet, so there are plenty of places for pipes to cause issues, including:
Burst pipes – this can be a pinhole leak in your water supply line, or caused by pipes freezing, expanding and cracking in winter and then thawing and leaking. Avoid this issue by making sure pipes that might be susceptible to freezing are appropriately lagged/insulated. You may be able to fix a pinhole leak with putty or tape, a repair clamp, or you may have to replace that part of the pipe.
Blocked pipes – this can be caused by hair, soap, wet wipes or tissue going down a drain and building up into a blockage. Avoid this issue by getting a drain guard (it looks like a mini sieve or colander that you place over the drain). To fix a blocked pipe you may need to use a plumbers snake or if that doesn’t work try a plunger.
What about water damage?
Water damage can start to show in one hour. That’s why it’s important to remove as much water and moisture as you can in a flooded bathroom, as quickly as you can. It’s vital that you tackle water damage quickly before damp and mould issues occur. Signs of water damage include:
– A water damaged ceiling – look all around the room, including the ceiling and walls underneath the bathroom for damp or discolouration.
– Laminate floor water damage – check out the floor covering if you have one.
– Water damaged wall – look all around for damp or discolouration.
– Water damaged skirting boards – wood will warp and eventually rot and crumble if the room isn’t properly dried.
If you detect water damage in your home, the damage may have gone deeper into your home’s substructure. Don’t worry – contact a professional who knows how to deal with water damage and be sure to take photos when you discover the damage, in case you need to claim on your home insurance.
How to avoid flooding
There’s a lot you can do to avoid potential flooding and it involves keeping an eye on all the fittings and fixtures in your bathroom. For example, your toilet’s water level – make sure your children aren’t routinely blocking the toilet with toilet paper, possible leaks in the bathroom/shower, as well as checking your drains are clear and preferably protected by a drain cover in the shower, for example. Don’t leave a running bath unattended and routinely check for leaks in your pipes and fixtures.
Protect your family from these kinds of emergencies
Plumbing disasters do happen, however, to help protect your family from emergencies like bathroom floods, make sure you’re covered with HomeServe’s emergency cover. On good days and bad days, we’re here to help.
How do you dry out a flooded bathroom?
1. Pump, mop, towel dry and wet vacuum everything in sight until there’s no more standing water.
2. Now get the air circulating – use fans, open windows, open the cupboard doors.
What to do if you overflow the bath?
– Stop the source immediately – close the tap and unplug the drain.
If you need to cut off the water supply, do so.
Cut electrical power to the bathroom for safety.
Now mop up, air the room and dry it out as thoroughly as you can.
How long does it take for water damage to show?
Water damage can start to show in one hour. That’s why it’s important to remove as much water and moisture as you can in a flooded bathroom, as quickly as you can.
How do you fix a flooded bathroom?
– Stop the source of the flood as quickly as possible.
– Cut electrical power to the bathroom for safety.
– Remove all standing water with a pump, mop, towels, wet vacuum.
– Get the air circulating (open windows and cupboards, fans).