Table Of Contents

Toilet Plumbing Maintenance

A toilet flushing mechanism may be just one of those things you ignore, at least, until they stop working well. And then you may ask: "why won't my toilet flush?" Read on for some common reasons why your toilet won't flush. You can also watch out for great tips on fixing a toilet that won't flush.

Reasons Why Your Toilet Won't Flush

The toilet handles

You may turn your toilet handle down, and nothing happens. This can be an easy fix. Simply disconnect the toilet handle.

The flushing mechanism

Okay, you have established that the toilet handle is not the problem. Check the flushing mechanism of the toilet. This includes checking the flush button or the pull chain. A broken flush button usually needs a replacement. Occasionally, the problem may be a broken linkage mechanism or a broken part of the toilet flushing system.

Problems inside the cistern

If the toilet isn't flushing correctly, the problem may be from the toilet cisterns. Besides, if you have eliminated the flushing mechanism as a cause, it is logical to check inside the toilet. Remove the lid from the cistern. Check for any broken, worn, or misplaced components.

Low water levels

Toilet tanks with low water levels will not flush. The same applies to toilets without water in the toilet cisterns. Water cannot make its way to the toilet bowl upon flushing. Therefore, check inside the tank for the manufacturer's water level line. It indicates the amount of water you should have in the tank.

These lines are positioned approximately one inch (2.5cm) below the top of the overflow tubes. Water levels inside the toilet tank need to be at this line. Misaligned components in the tank may limit the water from filling the tank to the right level.

To fix low water level problems

Check the water supply

A low water supply in your toilet tank can lead to a weak flush. Before panicking, checking if the toilet water valve is turned on is worthwhile. This can ease your anxiety about your toilet that won't flush properly. You may only need to turn it on.

The same applies to your mains water. It makes sense to confirm if your house has a running water supply. For example, you can turn on your bathroom sink tap to check. Perhaps, the mains water has been temporarily turned off for some work in your neighbourhood.

Another cause of low water levels is a blocked or faulty cistern inlet valve. You can buy and install fill valves to fix low water levels. Simply get them from your local hardware store.

Check the flush valve

You should turn the flush valve entirely to the left. If that is not the case, reset it. In other words, twist the head in a counter clockwise direction. After a minute, try flushing.

Adjust the float

The float is a rubber ball that floats upwards with the rising water. Usually, it shuts off the fill valves when the water rises to a certain level in the tank. If the float is stuck or improperly adjusted, it won't increase with the rising water levels. Thus, the tank is underfilled.

In turn, there is slow flushing. You can make a slight upward bend in the arm to raise it. As a result, more water is let into the tank. You may have a floating cup ballcock instead of a rubber float ball. Turn the float adjustment screw clockwise to raise the float. Such screws are located on top of fill valves in floats.

Check the flapper and lift chain

The flapper is a small rubber seal covering the hole in the toilet tank. Usually, when flushing the toilet, you lift the chain attached to the flapper. In turn, the lift chain lifts the flapper. Subsequently, all the water in the tank pours quickly into the bowl.

If your toilet isn't in "flush mode," the flapper seals off the hole, and water remains in the tank. However, if the flapper is damaged or the chain length is inappropriate, water can start leaking from the tank. As a result, this lowers the amount of water available for flushing the toilet.

So, check to see if the length of the flapper lift chain needs an adjustment. It should not have too little or too much slack. To adjust it, simply remove the chain. Then re-hook it to a different hole farther away or closer to the flush lever.

Furthermore, the amount of slack on the chain should be about ½ an inch (1.2cm). You should replace old, cracked, or damaged flappers. You can quickly get a replacement at your local hardware store.

Clogs in the toilet

Blockage can cause your toilets to overflow when you flush. Such overflows likely indicate a blockage along the drain pipe. However, the blockage may exist in different locations.

You may have clogs in the toilet, drain lines, or flange. Likewise, these can block the inlet holes. Emergency plumbers can help you quickly deal with blocked toilets.

A waste pipe can arise from accumulated non-degradable materials and sanitary products. For instance, toilet paper and wipes may build up in sewer lines. Ultimately, such materials lead to blockages inside the toilet pipe and result in slow flushing.

Testing for partially clogged toilets

Partial clogs can be a reason why your toilet won't flush. Pour a bucket of cold water into the bowl to test for partial clogs. If the toilet still doesn't flush, you don't need to continue flushing your toilet.

If you prefer DIY toilet repairs, you may attempt the methods below. Otherwise, you can invite professional drain cleaning services.

Using a toilet plunger

A plunger or toilet auger may be handy when dealing with clogged toilets. Just insert the plunger. Tilt it slightly to allow water inside the cup. This creates the needed suction. Then, plunge in using short and quick strokes.

Using white vinegar
  • Heat some white vinegar (10-12 ounces/0.2-0.3L).
  • Pour the hot vinegar through a funnel down the overflow tubes.
  • Do not flush for up to an hour (or overnight).
  • After that, clear the inlet holes using a wire or a small Allen wrench.
Manual toilet flushing with warm water

Pour a gallon (3.7L) of warm water into the bowl. Let it sit for ten minutes. You may add some detergent to help the process. Then flush the toilet.

Other ways to clear toilet clogs
  • Get a special plumbing "snake" to access deep areas of toilet drains.
  • Drain cleaning products can be a great help. You can opt for homemade or chemical drain cleaning options.
  • Alternatively, you may invite plumbing experts for blocked drains.

Blocked inlet holes

There are inlet holes just below the lip in your toilet bowl. Usually, water gushes out from these holes when you flush the toilet. However, a good amount of water may not come in if they are clogged. As a result, the toilet won't flush properly.

Fixing the problem of blocked inlet holes is not so difficult. Inspect them with a cosmetic mirror. Orange and black colourations indicate the presence of bacteria. Light colourations indicate mineral build-up.

Pour a bleach and water concoction into the overflow tube of the toilet tank. Allow to sit for a few minutes. After that, you can flush the toilet. Next, use a wire to clean each jet and flush it again. This should get the water flowing again.

Toilet drain pipe design issues

The installation and design of your toilet drains can impact water flow. They may even cause slow flushes. Toilet drains should have a downward slope. This way, water can easily flow down the toilet bowl, pipes, and sewer line.

Without this downward slope, toilet drains can retain "stuck" pools of water. As such, your toilet's water does not have a continuous flow. Instead, it hits the pool of water and stalls. You may need a professional plumber to inspect and redesign your drain pipe system.

Damaged toilet tank overflow tubes

Overflow tubes help to keep the right amount of water inside toilet tanks. It drains excess water into the toilet bowl when the tank overfills.

Consequently, if they become damaged, the toilet tank won't be able to flush and won't hold water. Instead, water will keep running into the toilet bowl. You can get replacement overflow tubes in local hardware stores.

Call Professional Plumbers

Likely, you have discovered some reasons your toilet doesn't flush well. You may wish to conduct a few of the DIY toilet repairs yourself. However, the root causes for a toilet that won't flush can be intricate. Professional plumbers are competent in fixing all toilet-related problems. So, you can leave your toilet plumbing maintenance to the experts.