Home Improvement

Toilet Won’t Flush? Possible Reasons and Professional Solutions

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One of the scariest bathroom problems comes when your toilet won’t flush. It’s a common household issue that can be very annoying to deal with. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the possible reasons why your toilet is not flushing properly and offer some professional solutions on how to fix it.

Table of Contents:

How serious is a non-flushing toilet?

As we’ve already said, a non-flushing toilet is at the top of the list with common household problems, followed by boiler leakage among others. And it is also a serious one. If your toilet is not flushing properly, it can lead to a big mess in your bathroom. It always happens when you least expect it and it’s hard to deal with in most situations.

A toilet, which does not flush properly, can also lead to water wastage (if you have to use buckets for a while) and can be a way of spreading bacteria all around your washroom.

Why your toilet doesn’t flush and how to fix it?

There can be many reasons why your toilet is not flushing properly. A broken flapper, a damaged flush button or a low water level in the tank could be easily the culprits. Or clogs both in the toilet itself and the drainage pipes can be also some of the causes that come to mind when dealing with this issue.

One of the best ways to find a solution to this problem is to be prepared. You should always keep tools and equipment in your home, such as:

  • A plunger – this is one of the most helpful tools when dealing with a clogged toilet.
  • Toilet or drain cleaning products (chemical or homemade) – those can help you with a blockage as well.
  • A special plumbing “snake” – this is a more specialised tool that will help you get deep in the drainage pipe to remove a blockage.
  • Common tools like a flathead screwdriver and grip pliers if you want to have a go at replacing a broken part of your toilet flushing system like the flush button
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It’s important to note that if you do not feel confident enough to repair the toilet cistern on your own, contacting a specialist is always a safe bet. It is highly recommended when you cannot find the cause of the problem or more complicated repairs are required.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the issues that may be preventing your toilet from flushing properly.

Malfunctioning flush button

The button, which activates the flushing mechanism in your toilet, may eventually break or detach over time, due to just regular use. Or, sometimes, it may become stuck, due to dirt and grime buildups, or for some other mechanical reason.

Depending on the model of your toilet, it may operate with a button, chain or handle. As these can get stuck easily, the solution can be as simple as cleaning the component regularly with warm soapy water.

Sometimes, however, you may need to open the lid of the cistern, remove the handle or button and investigate other reasons that have caused the part to get stuck. And you may find that it is actually broken, in which case it should be replaced by a new one. If it’s just detached, you will need to reattach it to the rest of the mechanism.

Bent or dislocated flapper

Inside the toilet tank, there is a rubber flapper, which opens up to release the water when flushing and closes afterwards to maintain the proper amount of water in the tank. These flappers are sold in almost any home improvement and hardware stores. They are cheap and relatively easy to replace by yourself. Here is how to proceed:

  • If your toilet isn’t flushing and no water comes out when you press the button, open the lid and inspect this flapper.
  • If it appears to be warped, dislocated or completely broken, you will need to readjust it or replace it.
  • Drain the water from your toilet tank, replace the device and try to flush it to ensure it works properly.
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The lift chain (rod) is not working properly

The flapper inside your toilet tank is attached to a lift chain or rod, which opens it when you push the button or pull the handle. Sometimes, this chain can become loose, or detach. This is a really easy problem to resolve – you just need to adjust the length or reattach it and make sure it closes and opens the flapper as intended.

Damaged overflow tube in the tank

There is an overflow tube inside the toilet tank, which keeps the proper amount of water at any given time. If this tube gets damaged in some way, the tank will not hold water and it won’t be able to flush. When this happens, the water keeps running into the toilet bowl constantly.

So, if you notice that, check the overflow tube immediately. Replacement overflow tubes are also sold in hardware stores and the problem is easy to fix.

Limited water in the tank or none at all

With all the things that we’ve mentioned already, keep in mind that the proper water level inside the toilet tank should be approximately one inch below the top of the overflow tube.

When it is lower, there usually is a problem and if it is not one of the issues we’ve looked at above, then it is probably due to the water valve being shut off. Check if that’s the case and make sure the water level is correct inside the tank, so your toilet flushes properly every time.

If this still doesn’t help, then it is best to contact a professional.

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The toilet is clogged

Probably, the biggest and most annoying problem you may encounter in your bathroom is a clogged toilet or pipe. If your toilet is flushing, but the water does not drain, it is probably due to a clogged waste pipe.

Clogs in the toilet waste pipe can happen from flushing non-degradable materials, leading to a mess in your bathroom. Things like wet wipes and sanitary products can create a blockage inside the toilet pipe and things can get very serious very quickly.

A clogged toilet won’t flush and can overflow spreading bacteria and waste all-around your washroom. The general rule, when the water doesn’t drain, is to stop trying to flush it.

Clogs can easily be avoided when you don’t flush non-degradable things down your toilet bowl, but can sometimes happen from buildups of grime and sludge in the pipes, as well.

  • One of the common solutions is to keep a plunger in your bathroom. A plunger is a tool, which uses vacuum to move the blockage inside the pipe and restore proper water flow. Place it in the bowl and start pushing and pulling and it may remove the blockage and allow proper drainage. If this doesn’t unclog the pipe, you can try a chemical product, usually sold in most supermarkets or try a homemade mixture of baking soda and vinegar. 
  • A special “snake” tool is sold in hardware stores, which can help you go deep into the pipe and remove the blockage. 
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Can the toilet eventually fix itself?

Unfortunately, the short answer is no. If you have problems with flushing your toilet and have already tried the solutions above, the problem may be a bit more specific and hard to resolve by yourself. So, do not wait for the problem to become a bigger issue.

The best thing to do is to contact a professional immediately. Plumbers have industry-standard tools that can deal with more serious clogs and damaged flushing mechanisms, quickly and effectively.

Does your toilet keep causing troubles? A professional plumber is just a click away!


  • Get a plunger or a plumbing “snake” to be prepared for a clogged toilet. You can also get chemical pipe cleaning products from the supermarket.
  • Make sure the toilet tank operates properly – check the flapper, button or handle and the overflow pipe.
  • Make sure water goes in properly into the tank and keeps at the right level.
  • Do not wait for the toilet to fix itself! If you can’t unclog it or fix a broken part – contact a professional!

Disclaimer: We are a commercial home maintenance service provider. Our purpose with this blog is to provide valuable and accurate content for solely informational purposes. We strongly advise our readers to consider all the risks and health concerns before taking a DIY project. We also highly recommend you get fully informed about the laws and regulations regarding electrical, plumbing and other work in the different states of Australia.

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