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Ask John Toilet Not Flushing Main Image

Why Won’t My Toilet Flush?

John Turpin is our resident home service repair expert here at Service Direct. He’s got the knowledge and experience to help homeowners like you make sense of most home repair issues. And with Service Direct, we connect you with top-tier service professionals to help with any repairs needed.

Don’t Panic When You Find Your Toilet Doesn’t Flush Properly

You’re on the Internet and searching, “Why won’t my toilet flush?” We understand how frustrating and inconvenient it is when your toilet won’t flush. But don’t worry because it’s a fairly common problem with solutions you can mostly implement on your own.

Whether it is a weak flush, partial plush, or no flush at all, the key is to understand the possible causes. This will arm you with knowledge on how to troubleshoot your non-flushing toilet and prevent further damage.

Toilet Not Flushing
Check out John’s DIY tips and insights to get your toilet working normal again.

Common Reasons Why a Toilet Won’t Flush

Before we talk about how to troubleshoot your non-flushing toilet, let’s consider the most frequent reasons why it happens:

Clogged Drain

You might be asking yourself, “Why won’t my toilet flush all the way?” One of the main causes of a non-flushing toilet is a plugged drain. A weak or ineffective flush could happen when waste, toilet paper, or other items obstruct the drain.

One way to fix this is to use a plunger. Insert the plunger into the bowl and push and pull it to produce suction that can help remove the obstruction. If the plunger is ineffective, you can reach and clear the obstruction with a toilet auger instead.

Flapper Valve Issues

Another of the possible causes of a non-flushing toilet is a faulty flapper valve. The flapper valve in the toilet tank regulates how much water flushes out into the bowl. Water may not be able to enter the bowl if the flapper is jammed or not sealing correctly.

To fix this, check the flapper valve and make sure it is not worn out or hindered by debris. If it is broken or not sealing correctly, get a new one. Make sure the flapper can completely close after a flush by adjusting the chain length.

Broken Flushing Mechanism or Lift Chain

“Why won’t my toilet flush if it isn’t clogged?” One possible cause of this is a broken flushing mechanism or lift chain. The toilet won’t flush if the lift chain that connects the flush handle to the flapper is damaged or out of alignment.

For this, check the lift chain and ensure that it is securely fastened to the flapper and the flush handle. The lift chain must be adjusted or replaced if it is damaged or out of alignment for the flushing mechanism to function properly.

Malfunctioning Fill Valve

The fill valve, also known as the ballcock, controls the water level in the tank after a flush. If it’s malfunctioning, then the tank may not properly refill for the next flush. This is one of the common reasons you’re struggling with a non-flushing toilet.

How to troubleshoot a malfunctioning fill valve? Look inside the fill valve for any obvious damage or obstructions. If you have confirmed that the fill valve is broken, consider replacing it. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when you install the new fill valve.

Low Water Level in the Tank

When you ask yourself, “Why won’t my toilet flush?” There’s a chance it’s because there’s not enough water in the toilet tank to provide a powerful flush, which is because of a low water level in the tank. This can cause either inefficient or nonexistent flushing.

For this, the solution starts with verifying that the water supply valve is fully open. This valve is positioned close to the base of the toilet. To raise the water level, turn the float valve within the tank. Adjusting the float allows more water to enter the tank.

Our resident home repair guru, John Turpin, offers insight into the common reasons your toilet isn’t flushing, including some helpful professional advice and DIY tips to get it fixed.

Blocked Vent Stack

The vent stack is a vertical pipe that helps maintain correct air pressure in the plumbing system. It’s also one of the possible reasons behind your question, “Why won’t my toilet flush properly?”

If the vent stack is obstructed or clogged, it hinders the flushing procedure by restricting appropriate water flow. Fix it by checking the vent stack for any obstructions and gently removing them by running water down the vent stack or by using a plumbing snake.

Water Supply Issues

A disruption in the toilet’s water supply can cause weak or no flushing. If the tank doesn’t have enough water in it, it’s not surprising if the flush is weak when you use the toilet. Fortunately, addressing the water supply issues should resolve the flushing problem.

First, confirm that the water supply valve is fully open behind the toilet. Turn it clockwise if it’s half closed to make sure water enters the tank properly. If you’re not sure how to fix it on your own, we suggest consulting a professional, especially for more complex issues.

Damaged Flushing Handle or Lever

Want to know “Why won’t my toilet flush?” Could it be that the flushing mechanism isn’t working properly because the flushing handle or lever is broken or damaged? The flushing procedure will be hampered if the handle is unfastened, jammed, or detached.

In this case, you should check the chain or lever that connects the flushing handle to the flapper valve. If you find it’s damaged, consider replacing it. Make sure the flapper is securely fastened to the chain or lever.

Mineral Buildup in the Rim Jets

The toilet bowl’s rim jets are essential for directing water during a flush. Mineral buildup over time may occur in these jets. The buildup of minerals can impede the water flow and result in inadequate flushing.

You will need to clean the rim jets to restore their proper function. You can do this using a tiny brush or a wire hanger. Remove mineral deposits and restore appropriate water flow by carefully inserting the wire or brush into the jets.

A toilet not flushing can be a huge disruption in your daily routine. It’s stressful when the toilet suddenly isn’t flushing all the way or is only flushing partially. It can easily cause you to panic, but the troubleshooting tips mentioned above hopefully prevent this.

Plumber Fixing Toilet
When you don’t know what you’re doing hire a plumbing expert to fix your toilet.

Toilet Not Flushing FAQs

What should I do if my toilet won’t flush?

If you find your toilet won’t flush, begin by investigating the possible causes of the issue. Inspect the water supply, check the components in the toilet tank, and make sure there are no obstructions in the trap-way or drain. Based on what you find, troubleshoot the toilet and perform the necessary repairs.

Can a toilet flush without a water supply?

You cannot flush a toilet without water. If the water is off and you press the flush button or lever, the toilet won’t flush. It means the waste will stay in the bowl, which then will start to smell. It also means no water supply, which in turn means the tank won’t refill. However, there are other ways to flush without water, such as the pour-over and tank methods.

Why does my toilet flush so slowly?

There are two things that a “slow toilet” could mean. One is the toilet bowl isn’t filling quickly, or it’s not draining fast. If your toilet is slow because of the latter, it’s likely because the drain is clogged. If it’s the former, the possible culprit is the tank. There might be an issue with it, such as having a low water level.

Why does my toilet keep running after flushing?

If your toilet keeps running after flushing, it might be due to a faulty flush valve or flapper. The toilet keeps running due to water continually flowing from the tank into the bowl as a result of the flapper being unable to seal properly. The solution is to adjust or replace the broken flapper or flush valve as needed.

Should I use chemical drain cleaners for toilet clogs?

Chemical drain cleaners can be effective in resolving toilet clogs but you must be careful in using them. As chemicals, they can be harsh on the plumbing and may not work for all clogs. Most often, it is safer to use non-chemical methods like a toilet auger or a plunger first.

Hire a Local Pluming Expert

By understanding the common causes behind your question, “Why won’t my toilet flush?” you can quickly find the culprit of the problem and resolve it. But remember, if you’re unable to fix the issue, contact a professional plumber for assistance using the phone number or form on this page.

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