How to Repair a Toilet that Will not Flush

What You'll Need
Toilet plunger
Wire coat hanger

What do you do when your toilet will not flush? Many times, the problem can be fixed without calling a plumber. Here are a few tips.

Step 1 - Avoid Overflow

Do not attempt to flush the toilet, fix the toilet, or add extra water to the toilet if it looks like it may overflow. A toilet plunger is recommended to avoid an overflow, but if this attempt doesn’t work, you may need to call a plumber or wait a little while to see if the toilet drains.

Step 2 - Examine the Tank

Pull the top off of the toilet tank and carefully set it aside somewhere where it is secure and will not fall and crack. Examine the interior of the tank and locate the small chain that connects the handle to the flapper valve. Many times, this chain simply comes unhooked, causing problems when flushing the toilet. If this is the case, simply reattach the chain. It should hang slightly loose. If it pulls very taught and does not have much slack, you may have a chain that is too short. This part can easily be purchased and replaced. Test the toilet by flushing the handle and watching the inside of the tank. If everything is working properly, the valve should pull up when you flush, emptying the water into the toilet bowl and eventually refilling.

Step 3 - Examine the Valve

It is possible that your water could be turned off. Look at the valve at the back of the toilet to determine if this is the case, and if so, simply turn the valve to re-establish the water supply.

Step 4 - Check for Clogs

Another problem that might cause a toilet to stop flushing properly is some type of clog. To identify a potential clog, fill a large bucket with water. You will need at least a gallon, and more, if possible. After lifting the toilet seat, swiftly pour the bucket of water into the toilet bowl. If the toilet does not flush, it is probably clogged. Proceed to remove the clog with a toilet plunger or an auger, if possible.

Step 5 - Inspect the Rim

If there is not a clog in your toilet, there may be mineral deposits clogging up the holes under the inside rim of the toilet. Straighten a wire coat hanger and poke it through these holes a few times to loosen up any mineral deposits and clogs. Use the same method to break up any blockages in the siphon hole, or siphon jet, which is the large hole at the bottom and back of the toilet bowl where flushed water exits.

Step 6 - Larger Problems

It is possible you may have a big problem with your toilet, such as a clog in the main drain line, a septic tank in need of maintenance, or a cracked pipe. In this case, professional help may be needed to sort out and fix the problem.

Most of the time however, a toilet that will not flush can easily be fixed if you know what minor problems to look for.