Toilet Won’t Flush (6 Most Common Reasons Why)

No matter who you are, you have probably encountered had the problem called ‘Toilet won’t flush’ at least once. This common, but embarrassing problem, is the nightmare of many.

If you aren’t sure why your toilet won’t flush, fixing this problem by yourself might be tricky.

However, you shouldn’t call the plumber the same moment when this occurs.

Most of the causes of your toilet not flushing you can repair on your own.

We have conducted a list of the most common reasons your toilet won’t flush and how to fix it.

6 Most Common Reasons Why Your Toilet Won’t Flush

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Clogged Toilet

The most common reason why your toilet won’t flush is that the toilet is clogged. This happens when you use too much toilet paper.

Another reason why this might’ve happened is that someone attempted to flush something other than toilet paper down the drain.

The common culprit behind clogs like this are sanitary napkins.

This is why it’s important to know which materials you can flush and which ones you cannot.

But don’t worry – the solution to this is usually rather easy.

How to Unclog Toilet

For unclogging toilet you will most likely need just one tool… a toilet plunger. If you need more details on this process, you can check out easy to follow guide on how to unclog toilet.

They suggest buying a toilet plunger with an extension flange on the rubber bell-shaped end.

They will do a better job unclogging. Then, plunge the toilet in and out vigorously.

Keep in mind that enough water needs to stay in the toilet to cover up the plunger. Have towels nearby to wipe the water that may splash out.

This should be enough to unclog the toilet.

Here are some additional plunging tips:

  • Plunge gently the first time, so the water doesn’t splash out.
  • After the first plunge, let the other plunges be hard and vigorous. This will loosen most clogs.
  • Plunge at least 10 times, but it can take up to 20 plunges to unclog.
  • Be patient!
  • Make sure that the water in the bowl is covering the toilet plunger.

Broken Handle

The reason behind a broken toilet can be simple. There is a handle that you should press (or pull, if it has a string) for your toilet to flush.

The handle outside the toilet usually connects to a plastic or metal arm inside the tank. Often times, any of these two parts can break, especially if they are made of brittle plastic.

Make sure that they are intact, and that they are connected tightly.

If these parts are damaged, you should just buy a new one at any hardware store. There’s no need to call the plumber, as most handles come with the instructions.

The replacement process usually takes less than five minutes.

Broken Lift Chain

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If your handle is working but nothing is happening, don’t panic just yet. Maybe your lift chain isn’t working properly.

The lift chain is what connects the flapper to the flushing handle on the outside of the toilet. Over time, it may become loose.

This will prevent it from doing its job, as it won’t be able to raise the flapper and flush.

Luckily, the solution for this problem is simple. You should just shorten the length of the chain.

This will help chain to provide a strong enough pull to raise the flapper enough for water to flow.

Like always, monitor the first flushing to make sure this truly was what’s causing the issue.

Low Water Level in the Tank

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Sometimes, the reason why your toilet won’t flush is the low water level in the toilet tank. You may wonder, what is the right water level?

The water level in the tank should be about one inch below the top of the overflow tube. If the water is below that, you have a problem.

The first thing you should do is check the water valve. Maybe someone has accidentally turned it off.

If this isn’t the case, call the plumber, as maybe you have some more serious problem with the pipes.

On the other hand, if the water valve is turned off, simply turn it back on. Make sure that you are monitoring the water level in the tank.

You have to ensure that the water is refilled to the level it should be. If it doesn’t, then once again you may have the problem with the pipes.

When it refills, try flushing it to make sure that it’s working properly. If it doesn’t, then there most likely is some more serious problem with the toilet.

Bent or Warped Flapper

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The rubber flapper is the part of the toilet system that releases water when the toilet is flushed.

It also serves for closing the water intake hole after the flushing, so that enough water remains in the tank.

You can inspect the flapper by opening the toilet tank lid.

You may notice that the flapper is deteriorated.

Sometimes, the flapper can also bent or become misshaped.

This may cause it to malfunction, as it won’t seal the flush tube hole properly.

The only way to fix this problem is to buy the new rubber flapper.

Don’t worry! The rubber flappers aren’t expensive, and you can find them at most hardware stores.

You most likely won’t even need a professional to help you replace it. Simply turn down the water and make sure that the tank is drained.

Then, swap the old flapper with the new one you’ve just bought.

When you’re finished, turn on the water valve and wait for the water level to rise.

Flush the toilet in the end, just to make sure that this was the reason why your toilet won’t flush.

Toilet Ball Valve Not Working

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A bit trickier problem occurs when your cistern inlet valve, also known as a toilet ball valve, isn’t working.

If that’s causing your problem, you should replace the flushing mechanism.

This can be a reasonably hard job, but if you don’t want to call the professional just yet, don’t worry.

There are ways for you to fix it yourself.

The only things that you’ll need are a screwdriver, a sponge, a bucket and, of course, a replacement flushing mechanism.

Talk to someone from your local hardware store to ensure you’ve bought the right toilet ball valve for you.

How to replace a flushing mechanism:

  • Remove the toilet cistern lid.
  • Turn off the water via isolation valve.
  • Drain the water tank.
  • Remove the large plastic nut that is connecting the mechanism to the trip lever.
  • Remove the flushing mechanism.
  • Put the new flushing mechanism in place, and reconnect it to the trip lever.
  • Make sure that everything is connected the way it should be – not too tight and not too loose.
  • Turn the water back on.
  • Close the cistern lid.
  • Try flushing to see if everything works.

Toilet Leaking Between Tank and Bowl

Sometimes you can flush the toilet, but you’ll notice that the water is leaking between tank and bowl.

This can also cause problems with the flushing process. Not to mention the mess it makes!

This usually means that there is a leak in the seal connecting the tank and the bowl.

On some occasions, the leak can be around the tank-to-bowl mounting bolts. Either way, you should fix this as soon as possible.

How to Fix a Leaky Toilet

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When your toilet is leaking between tank and bowl, you should consider yourself lucky.

This is the easiest leak to fix, and the one we will be focusing on.

Keep in mind that there are different damage levels that can cause this.

The water may be leaking near the center between the tank and the bowl.

If this is the case, buy new bolt washers or a new sponge gasket for the tank-to-bowl area.

Replacing them usually isn’t hard and you will most likely be able to do so without a plumber.

If the water leakage is caused by the bowl gasket, the water will leak more every time it’s flushed.

Another sign of this is if the water is leaking past the bolts and washers.

This may make the leak appear to be close to the sides of the toilet bowl.

Pinpointing the exact place of the leak can be hard.

Either way, the best way to confirm and to fix this leak is to remove the toilet tank as the first step.

Then, you should remove and replace the washers and/or the sponge gasket.

This process depends on your toilet bowl.

Most spare parts come with instructions that are easy to understand.

Even if the leak is on just one of these two parts, we suggest replacing both of them.

This is the great opportunity to renew your toilet bowl and to extend its life span.

Conclusion

When your toilet won’t flush, there is no need to panic and to call the plumber immediately.

Most of these issues can be fixed even by an amateur.

We hope this article will help you in solving your toilet bowls problems.

Of course, not everything can be fixed just like that. If the problem is persistent, or if you can’t determine the cause of the leak, you should call a professional.