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How to Fix a Toilet That Won’t Flush | My Plumber

Woman trying to flush a toilet

Not being able to flush the toilet in the morning will not just ruin your day but probably your whole week. The sooner you deal with the issue, the better. If you don’t believe you can handle this job on your own, you can always hire a professional. Licensed plumbers charge on an hourly basis. But, if you believe you can do the task yourself, keep reading. Because with some basic plumbing knowledge, this should be an easy fix.

This guide is for all of you who prefer to do home repairs by themselves and not spend money on professional plumbers.

The Simple Toilet Know-How

A toilet consists of two components:

  • Bowl
  • Tank

The tank contains the flush, the re-filling mechanism and the water that fills it. The hole visible in the bowl is attached to a siphon, the siphon tube is curved upwards and then downwards. Once the bowl is filled with gallons of water, the water flows to the upward curve of the tube and flushes away the contents of the bowl.

The flush mechanism is driven by gravity, water pressure and the person who’s flushing. The big elevated tank at the back remains filled with it approximately 2 gallons of water. When you activate the handle, the chain inside the tank gets pulled which lifts the flapper. Water rushes down in the bowl with a swirling motion and flushes the bowl content away. 

According to a study made by Housecall Pro, running toilet is the top plumbing issue in 24% of all states in the USA.

The key to fixing a toilet that won’t flush is to find the origin of the problem. Press on the flush handle or button and see If the washout is not happening. If that’s the case you might be dealing with a faulty mechanism or a broken toilet flush button. If the flush is happening by pressing the handle but the bowl contents are not washing out, there is a drainage issue

How to Fix a Toilet That Won’t Flush: Flush Mechanism

Open the tank lid and take a look of the mechanism inside. Read on for the reasons that might lead to a non-functional flush and the fastest solutions for it.
  • The low water level in the tank. This is one of the main reasons for a non-functional flush. Make sure that the water level is a minimum of 3 centimetres beneath the overflow tube of the tank. Check how low the water level is and if the valve is off, please turn it on. Flush the toilet once the water level is optimum.
  • Lift the chain, if there is one. Check it for excessive stretch. If there is, the flapper will not rise and won’t gather sufficient water in the bowl. Thus, there will not be a full flush. To fix this, remove the chain and re-hook it to the hole that is located near the flush lever.
  • Wared or bent flapper. Inspect the rubber flapper – the part intended to control the flush mechanism. If no water pours into the bowl after pushing the handle, it’s because the flapper is not rightly seated. Simply re-seat the flapper and the tank should fill up. If the flapper is in bad condition, replace it. Turn off the tank while changing to a new one and flush again to check whether it’s working.
  • Cleaning to unclog. Simple cleaning is also important if the flushing mechanism has stopped. You can use drain cleaner or muriatic acid, let it settle for a few minutes, use a brush and pour a gallon of hot water. If the water goes down, it means the flush is working again. And if it doesn’t, you may need the help of professional emergency plumbers.

How to Fix a Toilet Not Flushing Because of Drainage Issues

If the problem is not in the flush mechanism, but the drainage, here are the reasons for the damage and what you can do about it.
  • A clogged toilet can hinder the flush. Do not flush too much toilet paper because it can clog the pipe and flushing can become impossible, notes professional cleaning company Cleaning Day. You must use a toilet auger or a plunger to get rid of the waste and make flushing easy. If a toilet macerator is blocked, better call your trusted Saniflo engineer in London.
  • Very weak flush. Excessively slow flushing is caused due to deposition of minerals and dirt which blocks the flow of water beneath the rim. You can remove the partial blockage by scrubbing with a wire brush and white vinegar below the rim. Check the flush system after cleaning.
  • Incessant flushing. Constant flushing is a serious problem too as it leads to excessive water loss and higher water bills. In this case, you must ensure the float arm and the ball is working smoothly without any obstructions.
  • Dysfunctional fill valve. Fill valve failure is another reason why the tank is not filling. If you don’t hear the sound of running water when pressing the handle, the ball cock is the one responsible. Don’t over-tighten the fill-valve nut while attaching to the tank or the tank might suddenly crack. If you do it yourself, chances are you might flood the premises, so you better call a blocked toilet plumber.


  • There are two main components of the toilet that could hinder its function – the flush mechanism and the drainage;
  • Knowing how to do small fixes on either of them will ensure the longevity of your toilet bowl. For that you need to lift the tank lid and make sure the flapper, fill valve, chain and water pressure are working properly;
  • Keeping your toilet bowl clean and being wary of the things you flush down the toilet is a key factor in keeping your toilet working order for a long time.

How to Fix a Toilet That Won’t Flush | My Plumber

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