Wondering why your toilet won’t flush?

The toilet to many people, is a confusing and mysterious contraption in the first place. But a broken toilet is much worse. The good news is, they are simpler than you think and the fix could very well be an easy one! Today, we’re covering some of the most common reasons your toilet won’t flush and how to fix them!

Your Water Level is Too Low

If you notice the water level is low in either your tank or bowl, there may be a problem with your toilet. Low water levels can keep your toilet from properly flushing all waste. Your toilet requires enough water to flush the waste down and out of the initial pipes. Without that power, clogs will happen and your toilet can backup.

Most toilets will have a fill line on the inside of the tank that suggested the level at which water should fill in the tank. Some people purposely set their water level lower in order to save water, but if you notice this and you didn’t make any adjustments, it could be a number of reasons why.

repairing toilet that wont flush

There are Problems with Your Toilet Flapper

The toilet flapper is what allows the water in your toilet tank to flow into the toilet bowl. When you flush, it opens up, flushing all the water through the main drain of the toilet. If your toilet flapper is bent or broken to the point that it cannot make a tight seal, it will not allow the tank to refill, thus your toilet can’t flush.

Replacing the flapper valve is very easy to do yourself, and you can pick one up at your local hardware store or online no problem. It costs a couple of dollars, so it’s a good idea to try and resolve the flushing problem, and won’t be out a lot of money if that wasn’t the issue.

A Clog in the Toilet, Flange, or Drain

Obviously, a clog can be a major reason why your toilet won’t flush. We may have all dealt with a clogged toilet before, often in the toilet itself just beyond the bowl. But, a clog in the flange or drain can be a bigger issue.

The flange fastens your toilet to the ground drain and if something gets caught and prevents water from flowing, you may need to disassemble the whole unit to fix it. This can definitely be done with minimal experience, but to avoid cracking the ceramic or damaging any parts, it’s recommended to call a professional.

toilet repair toilet wont flush

The Inlet Holes are Blocked

Under the rim of the toilet, near the back, are inlet holes that fill your bowl up with water as it flushes. These can get clogged with sediment or mineral deposits over time and need to be cleaned out to continue working and flowing properly.

Use a pointed object like an awl, or if you have nothing else, people will cut a wire hanger to use. Gently use the pointed end of the tool of your choosing to clean out the inlet holes of dirt, sediment, scale, etc. Be careful to not push too hard and go through the hole too far and crack the toilet or hole. Some people wear gloves when they do it, so they don’t have to worry about bacteria or debris on their hands. Either way, use good hygiene and clean gently to avoid any mishaps.

You Have Poorly Installed Drain Pipes

The drain line needs to have a proper slope in order to flush down waste. Many things can keep pipes from sloping properly or being installed correctly. The line needs to be clear between your drain pipe and the septic tank. If you have large trees or rocky soil, you should be mindful of tree roots or rocks moving and either penetrating or blocking your drain lines. Plumbers will be able to run a camera through your pipes to determine if there is a blockage along the line.

You can also ensure the drain and pipes leading directly from your toilet are clear, installed in a downward slant, and if you are flushing and the water begins to fill right away, the blockage may be right there near the top. If you notice a slow flow that could be further down the line, you should call a professional to assess the situation before you begin to disassemble anything yourself.

man fixing toilet that wont flush

The Lift Chain is Broken or Disconnected

If you take a look in your toilet tank you will see a lever with a chain attached from it to your flapper. The lift chain (or flapper chain) does just that—lifts the flapper open so your toilet can flush. If this slips off, or breaks, it is an incredibly easy fix.

If you’re lucky, it just fell off the hook and you can re-secure it by tightening it with some pliers around the lever or flapper, sometimes even a zip-tie can do the trick to keep it in place. If it breaks, you can also use a zip-tie or twist tie to reattach it and it should still work. If it’s completely broken you can easily find a replacement at your local hardware store, or in a pinch, use another chain or something heavy enough to be able to lift and bring back down your toilet flapper.

Sometimes you will notice the chain gets a stretched out over time, which can lead to a weak flush as the flapper isn’t lifted all the way. This can be easily fixed by simply adjusting the chain so there isn’t too much slack.

plumber repairing toilet chain


The Overflow Tube is Cracked

Your toilet’s overflow tube keeps the water level from overflowing out of the tank and on to the floor. If you notice when you flush that water is running out of the tank lid, or spraying onto the tank lid, you should check your overflow tube for any cracks or leaks.

Without the overflow tube functioning properly, it can affect all of your toilet’s functions even beyond flushing waste. If it’s cracked, you can attempt to seal the leak and then close the lid and test your flushing. If you need to replace it, it should be easy enough to install on your own with a simple video and a quick call to your local plumber if you have any issues.

man fixing a toilet that wont flush

When to Contact a Professional

Hopefully you were able to identify and fix the problem yourself. But if that was not the case, now is probably the time to reach out to a professional. While you could dive into the project in hopes of figuring it out, you could risk causing further damage to the toilet or plumbing which could drive up the cost of repairs.

Here at AJ Alberts, we strive to provide only the best service to our customers. Sometimes you can’t always get a plumber to your house in time, so it’s important to know how to make small little fixes to tie you over till then. When it comes to removing or installing your toilet and drains, we are always there to provide you with the best customer service you can find. Give us a call at (651) 738-0580 to schedule an appointment at your convenience.