How to Fix Restroom Urinal Overflow and Leak Disasters

Last Updated on February 9, 2021 by Diana Rodriguez-Zaba

Restrooms in a commercial property are some of the busiest areas in the building. As a facility manager or business owner, you know they need attention around the clock. When a urinal overflows, you know you’re dealing with repair problems and water damage.

A leaking or overflowing urinal can quickly become a business disaster. We know because we specialize in cleaning and restoring water-damaged commercial properties in Chicago and the suburbs.

It helps to understand urinal plumbing basics and how to fix common problems that cause overflows and leaks. With the right information, you might not have to call a plumber after all.

What Causes a Urinal to Overflow?

When a urinal starts draining slowly, an overflow can’t be far behind. Fixture components aren’t complicated, so that makes it easier to identify the best repair options. Most urinal overflows are caused by one of these two problems.

  • Clogged Drain Lines – Urinal drain screens and mats keep large items from falling down into the pipe, but small debris can bypass both and accumulate down in the p-trap.
  • Sediment Buildup – Over time, sediment deposits build up in urinal drains. Some of the material is hard water scale, but the bulk is natural sediment from human urine.

What Causes a Urinal to Leak?

urinal leak

Most leaks in and around a urinal are caused by the fixture’s flushometer. Toilets rely on gravity to complete a flush, but a flushometer uses in-house water pressure to complete a flush cycle.

When a urinal keeps running or leaks after a flush, it’s time to replace the urinal flush valve and diaphragm inside the flushometer. These parts can fail due to age or constantly fluctuating water volume and pressure. Changing out the components is usually an easy DIY job.

How To Fix a Clogged Urinal That’s Overflowing

Whether it happens in a commercial facility or retail business, a urinal overflow creates an unhealthy environment. It’s unpleasant for employees, and it makes a bad impression on customers.

Try one of these three techniques for unclogging an overflowing or slow draining urinal.

1. Use a Plunger

This procedure can be messy, so be careful. First, remove the urinal drain mat or splash guard and any urinal cakes. Next, unscrew and pull off the drain cover. Position a plunger over the drain, pump it up and down, and then pause. Repeat until the water drains. If the plunger doesn’t break up the clog, move on to Step 2 or 3.

2. Snake It With an Auger

You can use a regular plumber’s snake, but you’ll get better results with an auger designed for urinals. Remove the drain mat and cover, and then insert the auger cable down the drain opening. Crank the auger handle, pushing its head through the drain line. Slowly reel it back, and repeat as needed to break up the clog.

3. Pour In a Descaler

Urinal descalers dissolve hard water and uric acid deposits. Follow product directions, and pour the recommended amount into the urinal drain. Give the descaler 10 or 15 minutes to break up clog deposits before flushing.

How to Fix a Leaking Urinal Flush Valve

This part of a urinal flushometer is also called the Sloan valve. Replacing it usually stops a urinal from leaking when it’s flushed. Follow these three steps for fixing a leaking urinal flush valve.

1. Turn Off the Water Supply

Remove the chrome cap from the shut-off valve under the urinal. Using a flat-head screwdriver, turn the exposed valve screw counter-clockwise. This shuts down the urinal water supply.

2. Remove the Flush Head Cap

Use channel lock pliers to remove the flushometer head bolt. Next, remove the flush head cap so that you have access to the diaphragm inside. Water will probably spill out around the open head cap.

3. Replace the Diaphragm

The exposed black disk in the flush head is the diaphragm. Remove it, and replace it with a new diaphragm. Secure the flush head cap back in place, and wipe down wet surfaces. Flush the urinal to confirm that parts are working properly.

How to Take Care of Water Damage From a Urinal

urinal water damage

It’s hard to miss a urinal that’s leaking or overflowing. Most property owners catch the problem before it causes serious water damage. Still, you need to act quickly.

  • Mop and clean floors and all affected surfaces with a strong disinfectant.
  • Dry out the restroom by running large box fans for several days.
  • Double-check the area later for signs of damage or mold on walls and tile.
  • Let water damage pros take care of big jobs, especially sewage backups.

How to Prevent Urinal Overflows and Leaks

You can’t head off every restroom disaster, but you can minimize the chances of urinal overflows and leaks. Develop a routine similar to your schedule for keeping commercial bathrooms clean. Make these preventive tips part of everyday restroom maintenance throughout the property.

  • Check for leaks or slow drains during regular cleaning.
  • Respond to and repair any signs of urinal problems right away.
  • Have all restroom fixtures routinely inspected by plumbing pros.
  • Store backup replacement parts on-site for quick repairs.
  • Keep the number of a water damage restoration company handy.

Dealing With Urinal Water Damage in Chicago? We Can Help!

Business owners are often surprised by how fast one overflowing urinal can cause extensive water damage. Facility managers don’t always have the resources for repairing soaked restroom walls and floors.

We can help with expert water damage restoration services for commercial properties in Chicago and the suburbs. Our teams handle small and large cleanup jobs and restorations in all types of buildings and facilities, and our emergency services are available 24/7.

We’re always ready for your call here at ServiceMaster by Zaba: 773-647-1985