How to Fix a Toilet That Won't Flush

Indoor plumbing sure is great, isn't it? Living without a functional toilet for even a few hours can really (really!) stink, but if your toilet doesn't flush, you may not need a plumber. Before you dial up a local plumbing service for a costly repair, give these toilet troubleshooting tips a shot.

What to Do When the Toilet Won't Flush

Toilets need a water supply, a mechanical trigger, and clear pipes to send waste along its merry way. If your toilet won't flush, it's likely due to a problem with one of these three things.

Before you get started, grab a pair of rubber gloves – we might be asking you to stick your hands where the sun don't shine. Relax; it's just the toilet tank.

Check the Water Shut-off Valve

Located on the wall just behind your toilet, the water shut-off or flush valve controls the water supply from your plumbing line to your toilet's tank. Make sure the valve is in the open position by turning it as far counterclockwise as it will go.

There's usually no reason to turn this valve off unless you're installing a new bidet or making toilet repairs. However, it is possible to bump the valve or turn it off accidentally (blame your kids). If it’s turned off, give it a second or two to fill the tank before trying the flush handle again.

Related: What Is a Bidet Toilet Seat?

Clear a Clog

It could be clogged. If it wasn't you (and it never was, right?), someone may have tried flushing it once or twice, lowering the reserve water in the tank and risking a nasty overflow. Before trying the handle again, try to clear the clogged toilet with a plunger.

If the toilet is about to overflow, hold off on the plunger and use ½ to 1 cup of bleach to break up the clog. You may need to wait 30-60 minutes to let the bleach do its thing.

If you can use a plunger without risking a mess, place the flange over the toilet opening and pump for about 20 seconds. You may need to repeat the process a few times to clear the clog completely.

Most clogged toilets are the result of using too much toilet paper. You can reduce plumbing problems and save a few trees and cash by switching to a bidet! Not sure which is right for you? Take the Bidet Quiz for a personalized recommendation.

Fix the Flapper

First, "flapper" is an actual term used to describe the floating balloon-looking device located in your toilet tank. Carefully remove the toilet tank lid (they can be heavy) and place it out of the way. If the flapper looks bent or damaged, it may need to be replaced.

It's Not the Flapper …

Attached to the flapper is a small chain. If this chain is too long or too short, it may not trigger a flush when you push the handle. Make sure the chain is connected and reconnect it if it appears loose.

No luck? Then it’s time to call in a pro.

What If My Toilet Just Won't Flush All the Way?

If your toilet has a weak flush, it's most likely partially clogged, which is usually resolved with a plunger. Sometimes, the flapper or chain may not initiate the flush completely. This can result in a toilet that flushes, but waste comes back. You may need an expert to get the flapper, chain, and handle working correctly again.

All the Toilet Talk You Can Handle

We're not plumbers, and that's why our bidets are easy to install. Find the right bidet attachment or seat for your home and avoid clogged toilets with a gentle cleansing spray. Compare our best bidet products today, or let us know if you have questions!