9 Reasons your toilet won’t flush (even if not clogged)

Several household problems could upset your day, but one that truly takes the cake is your toilet not flushing properly. It’s a problem for you and your family, but if unexpected guests come over – it’s a nightmare. But do not fret – we’ve got some solutions that are bound to make your problems disappear. Read up on all the reasons your toilet won’t flush, even if not clogged.

1. There isn’t enough water.

Sometimes you may find flushing the tank doesn’t do anything. One of the reasons for this could be the lack of water or low pressure. Open up the tank and see if the water level is around an inch below the top of the overflow tank. It is the actual measure of water that is supposed to be in the tank. If it’s lower than that, check the water inlet valve. Sometimes a brush hand turns the valve off or reduces its pressure, and thus the tank doesn’t fill all the way. If there’s a pressure problem, call the plumber to see what the problem is about.

look inside a toilet tank

2. The flapper is defective.

The flapper controls the mechanism of the entire flushing. Open up the tank and identify the flapper. A flapper is a rubber tool that is round in shape. It is usually right at the bottom of the flush tank. Its job is to release water when the handle is turned and start filling the water when the tank is completely empty. Check for signs that the rubber flapper is disfigured, bent or broken. If it’s out of place, replace it with the original position. If it’s warped, it might need replacing. Luckily it is easily available at most hardware stores.

3. Your drains need looking at

It could be that your toilet tank is just fine, but the drain line has an issue. Perhaps, there is a clog or issue in the drain line pipes that need looking at. It might be a complex affair, so it’s best to call the plumber, who will check the drain pipes with a very long auger. If you’re familiar with this kind of work, a great tool to have is this DrainX Power Pro Steel Drum Auger. It cleans your kitchen, bathroom, and toilet drains without any hefty plumber fees. It is designed to save you from plumber maintenance for decades with its durability!

If this drain line is the issue, there must be signs all over the house. Your shower, bath, and kitchen sink drain must all be very slow in draining liquid, or they might not be draining at all. That’s when you know the issue is much deeper, literally!

4. Your toilet is clogged.

If all else fails, you have to accept the toilet probably is clogged. If you have kids around the house, they may have dropped some legos in there or just an excessive amount of toilet paper. It will lead to nothing being able to flush, no matter how much water is used. You can sometimes deal with the clog by poking with a toilet brush. You can also use tools like this Sticque Toilet plunger that powerfully blasts compressed air into the toilet and unclogs even the most stubborn pileups. It also works for other clogged areas like kitchen sinks, floor drains, and bathtubs.

plunger being used

5. Your flush handle is broken.

If you’re turning the handle and it doesn’t lead to a flush, and all else seems fine, the problem could be in the handle itself. Sometimes the handle gets disconnected from the flapper, and this can be fixed manually on your own.

However, sometimes the problem is more complex. Replacing the handle is not difficult and can be done on your own. You can find a flush handle in any hardware store and install it yourself.

6. Toilet doesn’t flush, but it just fills with water.

It could be due to many reasons. One of the most common reasons for this is a phenomenon known as the slow drain. It means the drain lines are clogged and need probing. It could also be that the water level is not adjusted properly. The float could be set too high or too low. You can also fix this manually. The cause could also be a big clog that could be undone with the help of plungers.

7. Hard water buildup

Hard water buildup is caused by unwanted elements like calcium and magnesium in your pipes. This is especially prevalent in some states like Texas more than others. Things like bleach can make them worse. Hard water stains and deposits can cause issues inside pipes and toilet bowls. A good way to fix this is to make sure the water is at a lower temperature. Vinegar and sandpaper are good ways to get rid of all that hard buildup inside a toilet tank. When that does not work, try water softener systems for long-term damage prevention.

8. Clogged inlet jet holes

Do you know those holes that let water down into the bowl? Those inlet holes could be clogged and cause you a mess. If you notice that the tank is flushing slowly into the bowl, clogged inlet holes could be the reason. Another sign to watch out for is if water is flowing down directly into the bowl instead of diagonally. Get a brush, auger, or large toothpick or stick handy to unclog these bad boys.

9. Defective fill valve

A defective fill valve could look like a tiny bulb attached to a small rod or a round float that is installed around the fill valve. The function of this mechanism is to detect when the tank is full and shut off further water consumption. If the fill valve is clogged, it could cause underfilling and thus poor drainage when you flush. Check to see if the fill valve is adjusted at the right level and isn’t broken or clogged.

There are several worse things than your toilet not flushing, especially with guests coming over later. But here’s how you can fix that within minutes:

toilet being flushed

How to fix a toilet that’s not flushing

  1. Check the handle

    First things first! What if the problem is in the first step? If you turn the handle and nothing happens, the handle of the flush won’t turn at all – there’s a problem in the handle itself and not the tank. Open up the tank to see if the handle has come undone from the fill valve and flapper. Connect the handle back to the flapper if disconnected. Replace the handle if necessary.

  2. Check for clogging

    If there’s obvious clogging, it could be due to objects stuck in your toilet bowl or drain line. Try getting it yourself with an air plunger. You’ll need an auger if the clogging is deep within the drain lines. Clogging could also be in the inlet holes through which the water flows into the bowl. Use a toilet brush to unclog this.

  3. Check the components

    You’ll need to take a deeper look at the flush tank’s components. Check the flapper to see if it’s still connected. Check the flapper for damage or defects. The overflow valve could also be misplaced. The fill valve could have been damaged or surrounded by hard water buildup. A thorough examination of the components will certainly reveal the problem.

  4. Check drains

    However, if none of the above seems to work for you, the problem probably lies within the drainage. The drainage could be poor due to the hard element buildup, some clogging in the drainage pipes, or other plumbing issues. Get your drain checked by a professional. Watch out for poor drainage signs around the house like the kitchen sink, bathtub, or shower.

Toilet won’t flush after heavy rain.

toilet tank with the lid off

Plumbing issues after bouts of heavy rain aren’t uncommon. In fact, they are expected in some areas. This is because the municipal sewage systems are overflowing in the area with unexpected rainwater. Due to this, every time you flush – the septic tank overflows. It then starts backing up and comes right back into your drainage since it isn’t able to flush away. And that solves the mystery behind why your toilet won’t flush after heavy rain! Similarly, you must be facing drainage issues around the house in kitchen sinks, washbasins, bathtubs, and showers. Needless to say, it’s because of the same issue.

Ideally, the septic tank dries up in a day or two on its own. Call your plumber to assess the situation if this isn’t the case.

FAQ

toilet tank

Here are some helpful FAQs about toilet tanks that customers often ask:

Why is my toilet running but not flushing?

If you hear splashing in the tank but not into the bowl, this could be due to some defect. It is probably the flapper that has come undone from the bottom of the tank. If you open it up and adjust the flapper to sit comfortably in its position, your problem should be solved. It could be that the flapper has come loose due to the chain breaking or disconnecting. Put this together, and your issue will be resolved!

Why does my toilet have a weak flush?

There could be one or two reasons for this. One of the reasons could be the low water level. If there isn’t enough pressure, the tank won’t fill up as much, and thus you’ll have a weak flush. Check the tank to raise the float level, as this could also be hampering your flush pressure. The fill valve could also be defective and cause less water to flow through. These two components are key to water pressure and could be leading you to have a weak flush.

How do I make my toilet flush stronger?

You will need to check your flapper for this. You can easily adjust it if it’s an adjustable style, so it pushes more pressure through in every flush. You could have one that the manufacturer and non-adjustable already set. In that case, you can only press the handle down for longer, so the flapper stays open and let more water through than normal. If it seems your toilet bowl doesn’t fill up all the way, you will have to change your fill valve. Get an adjustable fill valve and install it. This makes sure that more liquid is let into the bowl.

Why would there be no water in my toilet tank?

If you are facing any issue with no water in the tank, check to see the supply valve first. It should be turned all the way to let in flowing water. If this is not tampered with, check any possible signs of leakage in the pipeline. Check to see whether the whole house has water problems or just the flush tank before you call in a professional. In emergencies, you can manually fill the ‘tank with a bucket of water.

Can you pour water into the toilet tank to flush it?

Of course! If there are problems with the water supply valve or pipes, you can use a bucket to fill it with a couple of gallons and fill the toilet tank. Lift the lid and fill the water till it reaches the float or the surface of the overflow tube. Now close the lid and flush as you normally would. Works perfectly!

Can you flush a toilet with an empty tank?

If you know in advance that you will have water scarcity later, you can save yourself the mess of not having a flushable toilet. You don’t necessarily need running water to flush every time. If you’ve got a bathtub, go ahead and fill it all the way. You could also use water from the pool or jacuzzi. You could utilize this one of two ways. You could dump it directly into the toilet bowl when ready to flush. You could also lift the lid and fill the tank till it hits the overflow line. Now flush as you normally would!

Why won’t my toilet tank hold water?

There could be quite a few reasons for this. One of these could be a leakage in the water line. Check for any signs in the pipes around the tank. Another reason could be the fill tube. If the fill tube is damaged or displaced from its position, this could lead to it not being able to hold anything.

What can I clean my toilet tank with?

Let’s discuss the big don’ts before we get to the dos. Do not, under any circumstance, put products containing bleach inside the toilet tank to clean it. This might seem like the easy thing to do while you’re cleaning the toilet bowl. But it’s not the smartest. Bleach might seem like the right option for ceramic toilet bowls, but it will damage metal and plastic components inside the toilet tank. These components are essential to its functioning, so only clean with alternatives. You can use kitchen products to clean the tank easily! Take some baking soda or diluted vinegar to have a spotless tank in no time! It’s harmless and leaves everything squeaky clean.

How often should I clean my toilet tank?

Ideally, you should be cleaning your toilet tank about twice a year. You should not use bleach or any harsh materials on the inside. This could lead to corrosion or damage to the inner working of the tank. Rather, stick to home-based natural cleaning agents like baking soda and vinegar. Mark down a date every six months to clean and check that everything is in order.

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