Troubleshooting a Toilet that Won’t Flush

Nov17 By Home Services Plumbing
Repairing man working with toilet tank in bathroom, closeup

Indoor plumbing is so easy to take for granted—until the toilet won’t flush. Don’t panic! There are several reasons why this can happen, most of which are fast and easy to fix. We’ll guide you through each troubleshooting tip. And if your efforts don’t pan out, you can always call a plumber.

The Toilet is Clogged

Clogged toilets aren’t always obvious. A partial clog somewhere in the line could cause your toilet to flush weakly, leaving waste in the bowl.

What to do: Plunge the toilet to loosen things up. If that doesn’t do the trick, try “snaking” the toilet with a plumbing auger. If these tips don’t work, you may need to schedule professional drain cleaning.

The Handle is Detached from the Flapper

If the handle feels loose, and the toilet doesn’t respond at all when you press it, the chain that connects the handle to the flapper has probably come loose.

What to do: Remove the toilet tank lid and peek inside. Check that both ends of the chain are connected. If either end is detached, reconnect it. Then, flush the toilet while looking inside the tank to make sure the chain is short enough to open the flapper completely and long enough to allow the flapper to close again.

The Tank isn’t Filling Properly

When you flush the toilet, water rushes from the tank, generating the suction required to empty the bowl of its contents. If the tank doesn’t contain enough water, it may produce a weak flush or no flush at all.

What to do: Remove the toilet tank lid and check if the water is up to the fill line. If not, adjust the float by moving its position along the arm. Flush again to see if this resolved the problem.

The Jets are Clogged

Little holes along the underside of the toilet bowl rim deliver water from the tank when you flush the toilet. If these jets become clogged with limescale or rust, the toilet will flush weakly.

What to do: Use a small mirror to help you see which jets need attention. Poke any clogged jets with a small nail or length of wire. You can also scrub the jets with an old toothbrush dipped in diluted bleach or vinegar.

The Water Supply is Shut Off

If the toilet bowl and tank are empty when you go to flush the toilet, this might mean the water has been shut off.

What to do: Check the wall behind the toilet for a valve connected to the water supply line. Turn the valve counterclockwise as far as it will go to restore water. The tank should now fill back up so you can flush the toilet.

For more help fixing a toilet that won’t flush, please reach out to Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating. We have over 20 years of experience fixing toilets, unclogging drains, and providing other plumbing services in Seattle, WA. Call us at (206) 350-0079 or request an appointment online today!

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