Flooded Bathroom? Here Are 10 Essential Steps to Recovery

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: February 13, 2024

Clogged toilets can happen in the best-kept homes, apartments, or condos. Busy families can forget someone’s filling up the tub. A pipe can freeze during the night and burst before you’re awake. From faulty plumbing to a sewage backup, it doesn’t take much to flood the bathroom.

Are you wondering how to clean up a flooded bathroom and keep water damage to a minimum?

As the leader among Chicago’s flood damage cleanup companies, we know how to tackle this kind of work. It’s a big job, and you need to take it one step at a time.

Let’s get started.

Your 10-Step Guide on How to Clean Up a Flooded Bathroom

bathroom water damage tech

You want to address bathroom flooding as quickly as you can. Standing water quickly seeps through the bathroom floor and down into the subflooring.

As it soaks baseboards, drywall and cabinets, the water creates a humid environment that can breed mold and mildew in just 24 hours..

These 10 steps get you on the road to flooded bathroom recovery.

1. Turn Off the Water

toilet water shut off valve
Toilet water shut off valve

Do this first. Most homeowners want to grab a mop or plunger, but you have to stop the water flow before you can begin cleaning up bathroom flooding.

Identify the water source, and turn it off at the shut-off valve nearest the leak. For example, look at the supply line behind the toilet or inside the cabinet under the bathroom sink. Firmly turn the oval shut-off valve clockwise.

If this doesn’t stop water flooding into your bathroom, you may be dealing with a burst pipe inside a wall. Play it safe by turning off the main water supply to your home at the outside cut-off valve.

Power Tip: Minimize the danger of slipping on a wet bathroom floor by wearing rubber-soled shoes while you work.

2. Make Sure You’re Safe

You may not think of a flooded bathroom as an electrical hazard zone, but don’t take chances. Turn off the breaker that supplies this area of the house. Check bathroom appliances and gadgets that might pose a danger.

Before unplugging anything, make sure outlets haven’t been exposed to standing water. Once you’re sure the area is safe, remove all electrical items, such as space heaters, hair dryers and standing floor lamps.

3. Fix the Problem

There are several ways to fix bathroom plumbing problems. If you can reach the pipe or line, temporarily seal the leak with epoxy putty or fiberglass tape. Follow up by patching it with a pipe repair clamp kit from the hardware store.

Fixing a leaking toilet may require installing a new supply line, replacing the wax ring around its flange or tightening the toilet base.

If the source of bathroom flooding seems to be a broken pipe behind the bathroom wall, contact a water damage company like ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba in Chicago, IL.

We take care of all cleanup and water restoration.

4. Call Your Insurance & Document the Damage

Call your insurance agent, and let him or her know about the extent of water damage in your bathroom. Even minor flooding can create long-term problems, so take pictures before you start cleaning.

When you file your claim, this type of documentation makes it easier to complete the process.

5. Step Back and Assess

It’s a messy job, but most homeowners handle standing water with a mop and bucket. You want to take care of it right away to minimize water damage. However, you may still face problems like damp walls and hidden mold growth.

Consider leaving cleanup and repairs in the hands of water damage professionals. In addition to solving plumbing problems, their teams clean, disinfect and restore flooded bathrooms. If you’re comfortable handling the work by yourself, continue with steps 6 through 10.

equipment drying flooded bathroom
Professional flood damage cleanup companies have advanced equipment to get your house back to normal

Power Tip: Keep contact information for restoration pros handy just in case. You may change your mind about the job as you work through the DIY cleanup process.

6. Prep for Cleanup

Move everything in bathroom cabinets and vanities to another location. Bag and dispose of items that are too wet to salvage. Check inside cabinets and storage closets for signs of water damage that may need repair later.

Power Tip: Drain soaked bath mats and small area rugs by tossing them in the bathtub.

7. Remove Standing Water

Take care of minor bathroom flooding by soaking up the water with towels. A heavy mop and bucket works better for larger amounts of water. It’s best to tackle standing water with a wet vac. You can rent the equipment from your local home improvement center.

Power Tip: Never try to remove water on the floor with an ordinary vacuum cleaner.

8. Start Drying Out the Flooded Bathroom

Dehumidifiers remove excess moisture

Set up as many fans as possible so that they circulate crosscurrents of fresh air. If you run a dehumidifier in the wet bathroom, be sure to regularly check and empty its water well.

Speed up drying time with heavy-duty drying equipment rentals from the home improvement center. Be patient. The process can take from several days to a week or more.

Power Tip: A moisture meter makes it easier to monitor progress during the drying-out phase.

9. Tear Out and Replace Drywall

Closely inspect your bathroom’s drywall. The material wicks moisture upwards, so damage often occurs several inches above the water line. Damp areas need to be torn out and patched. You may have to replace entire wall sections.

This is the biggest part of a flooded bathroom repair project, but it’s very important. If you don’t remove water-damaged drywall, it becomes a breeding ground for unhealthy mold. The material can also spread moisture into wood framing, and that can result in serious structural damage.

10. Finish With a Good Disinfecting

Your final step to restoring the bathroom starts with a good scrubbing. Use a strong disinfectant to clean all surfaces, including the floor, tub and toilet base, cabinet bases, trim and baseboards.

This removes contaminants left behind by the flooding. It also refreshes the bathroom’s indoor air quality.

Power Tip: Don’t use bleach or bleach-based products to clean porous materials in the bathroom. Only use products formulated for specific surfaces, such as cabinets and drywall.

Why Do Bathrooms Flood? 5 Common Causes

toilet overflow restoration

Technology becomes more sophisticated every day, but bathroom plumbing still operates on basic principles. While it’s usually a solid system, things can quickly go wrong. These are five common causes of bathroom flooding.

1. Plumbing Malfunctions

Frozen burst pipes, supply lines that age out and ruptures caused by excess water pressure can all suddenly flood a bathroom.

2. Toilet Overflows

Toilet overflows are often the result of blocked toilet traps or backed-up sewer laterals.

3. Clogged Pipes

Hair down sink drains and wet wipes down toilets are just a few examples of the things that routinely clog and backup bathroom pipes.

4. Overflow Drain Problems

When the overflow drain fails, running a bath fills the tub to overflowing and sends water cascading behind the shower wall and across the bathroom floor.

5. Sewer Backups

Storm flooding often causes sewer main backups that fill the bathroom with sewage, but tree roots also crack, clog and back up sewer lines.

When to Call a Professional Water Damage Restoration Company

We must stress the danger of tackling sewage backup cleanup on your own. It’s hazardous work involving category 3 water damage and needs to be addressed by certified water damage specialists.

When you call in professionals for flooded bathroom help, you know the situation is handled safely. An experienced water damage contractor can also:

  • Detect hidden moisture behind walls and beneath floors.
  • Reduce cleanup and drying time with special equipment.
  • Address mold removal and remediation.
  • Help you with the insurance claims process.
water restoration technician
Our Chicago restoration team restores flooded bathrooms every week.

Cleaning up a flooded bathroom floor can quickly become a very big job. Sometimes, you need to let professionals handle the hard work. We know you have plenty of DIY talent, but you can’t always do it by yourself.

Can Bathroom Flooding Cause Structural Damage?

When you’re dealing with a flooded bathroom, you’re focused on cleaning up quickly for two reasons. First, this is one of the busiest rooms in the house. Second, minor bathroom flooding can result in serious structural damage.

These are examples of long-term problems that can result from flooding in the bathroom.

  1. Water-damaged wood framing behind wet walls begins to rot.
  2. Wood and laminate cabinets, doors and shelving deteriorate.
  3. Subflooring in a flooded bathroom develops spongy spots.
  4. Ceiling joists below a flooded upstairs bathroom become weak.
  5. Mold growing behind damp drywall spreads to adjacent areas.
  6. Bacterial contamination lingers in wet materials, especially drywall.

It doesn’t take long for a flood in the bathroom to soak flooring, walls and cabinets. Once you’re finished with cleaning and drying, check the area with a moisture meter. If you’re not happy with the progress, let water damage technicians take over with structural drying techniques.

When Is a Flooded Bathroom Dangerous?

Cleaning up a flooded bathroom is always a chore, but it’s not something that sets off alarms. You take basic precautions by wearing rubber gloves and non-slip work shoes. You follow directions for safely using cleaning and disinfecting products. If any bathroom appliances were affected, you turn off the room’s electricity.

A flooded bathroom can still be a dangerous place for cleanup work. These situations call for extra caution.

  • Potential ceiling collapse from water damage below an upstairs bath
  • Bathroom flooding that goes unattended for eight hours or more
  • Undetected leaks in walls that can compromise electrical wiring
  • Any patches of mold that measure more than 3 square feet
  • Bacterial contamination from sewage backups in the bathroom
  • Personal health issues, including respiratory and immunodeficiency disorders

If you can’t be sure about your safety or the extent of bathroom water damage, don’t take any chances. Call a professional water damage restoration company. Their certified technicians detect and remediate unseen water damage, and they take care of dangerous sewage cleanup.

What Is the Average Cost to Fix a Flooded Bathroom?

The average cost of fixing a flooded bathroom runs from $1,100 to $4,500. Estimates depend on a variety of factors, including plumbing repairs and the extent of water damage to floors, walls and cabinets. Sewage cleanup and mold remediation services also add to the final cost.

How to Prevent Bathroom Flooding

As we’ve noted, it doesn’t take much to suddenly soak the entire bathroom. Fortunately, it’s easy to take these precautions that can prevent the bathroom from flooding.

  • Never put anything other than toilet paper in the toilet.
  • Routinely check for leaks in supply and drain lines.
  • Take care of slow sink or tub drains right away.
  • Make sure shut-off valves are in good condition.
  • Know how to turn off your home’s main water supply.
  • Don’t let tree or shrub roots invade sewer lines.
  • Keep the number of a certified water damage contractor handy.

Need Help with Bathroom Flood Damage in Chicago or Suburbs? We Can Help!

We always enjoy sharing tips we develop as we take care of Chicago homeowners with emergency flood repair. We hope our bathroom flood cleanup guide comes in handy the next time you face a wet mess in the busiest room in the house.

If you’re dealing with a bathroom flood that’s too big or dangerous for DIY cleanup, give us a call. We earn our reputation as one of the best flood cleanup companies in Chicago and the suburbs every day.

Our teams here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba are standing by and ready to respond:  773-647-1985

What causes bathroom flooding and water damage?

Water backups from clogged toilets and drains are common sources of bathroom flooding. Corrosion buildup in older plumbing can degrade joints and rupture pipes. During the winter, frozen burst pipes are often to blame. Storm flooding can also cause problems by backing up sewage lines.

What is the fastest way to soak up water in a flooded bathroom?

Old towels and newspapers will quickly soak up water on a bathroom floor. Mops and floor squeegees make it easier to move excessive water into buckets.

How long does it take to fix a flooded bathroom?

If you address flooded bathroom cleanup right away, the drying process usually takes an additional two or three days. If the flooding affects bathroom walls and cabinets, you may be looking at tear-out and replacement work which will extend the duration.