If you’re known as the handyman around your house that your spouse, kids or roommates come to when there’s a plumbing problem, chances are that you’ve heard “the toilet won’t flush” a few times (usually followed by “but it’s not my fault!”).
Trying to figure out the problem that’s preventing a toilet from flushing properly can be frustrating if you don’t know what you’re looking for. That’s why we decided to share the four most common reasons for a toilet being temporarily unable to flush, and how to fix them yourself – this most common of plumbing problems happens to all of us sooner or later, but in the vast majority of cases can be fixed quickly and easily.
Here are the top four reasons your toilet won’t flush.
The Toilet is Clogged
Using too much toilet paper, or attempting to flush anything other than toilet paper down the toilet can clog the pipe and make further flushing impossible. Sanitary napkins are a common culprit behind clogs like this.
Use a toilet plunger or toilet auger to push waste through and allow the toilet to flush, or use the plunger to create suction that will help dislodge paper waste blocking the flushing action and allow it to move down the pipe. If you’re experiencing frequent clogs, you may want to consider using a thinner type of toilet paper, particularly if you or other members of your household use a lot in one sitting.
The Water Level in the Tank is Too Low
The water level in a toilet’s tank should be approximately one inch below the top of the tank’s overflow tube. If the water in the tank is too low, check the water valve, as it may have been accidentally turned off. If the water valve was off, turn it on and monitor the water level in the tank to ensure that it refills to the correct level, then flush the toilet to make sure it’s flushing properly again.
The Flapper is Bent or Warped
Remove the toilet tank lid and inspect the rubber flapper. The rubber flapper is designed to release water when the toilet is flushed and then close the water intake hole afterward so that the proper amount of water remains in the tank.
If the rubber flapper on your toilet appears to have deteriorated or is too warped, bent or misshapen to seal the flush tube hole, you’ll need to replace it. Flappers are inexpensive items and can be found at any hardware or home improvement store. Turn off the water and drain the tank before swapping the old flapper out for the new one, then try flushing to the toilet again to ensure the problem is resolved.
The Lift Chain Isn’t Working
Sometimes the lift chain, which attaches the flapper to the flushing handle on the outside of the toilet, can have too much slack and make the handle unable to raise the flapper and thus flush the toilet.
To solve this problem, you need only adjust the length of the chain to shorten it so that the chain can provide pull sufficient to raise the flapper off of the flush tube and allow water to flow when the handle is pulled.
When in Doubt, Call the Pros!
These four situations are by far the most common reasons for a toilet not wanting to flush, so we hope they will help you take care of flushing problems quickly and easily next time they occur. But if you’ve tried everything and you still can’t flush your toilet, give RS Andrews a call and pass the problem off to the expert plumbing technicians who’ve been keeping things flowing smoothly from Marietta to Duluth to every corner of Atlanta for over 40 years. Let us handle the dirty work – you’ll be glad you did!
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