You press the handle of the toilet like you always do. Instead of a rushing flush, however, this time the experience is different. Maybe the flush is weak. Maybe the toilet doesn’t flush at all. Or worse – maybe the toilet bowl begins to fill up with water, threatening to cover your bathroom in wastewater.
Knowing the reason why a toilet is not flushing properly can help you respond appropriately to the situation. Maybe you should be reaching for the plunger that is right next to your toilet. There might also be a more complicated issue that must be addressed.
Here is what to expect if your toilet is not flushing properly.
What Happens If My Toilet Doesn’t Flush at All?
If the flushing lever doesn’t initiate a flush, then there are two common issues which may be causing the problem. The tank may not have any water in it, which means the supply line may not be accessible to the toilet. Make sure the water is turned on, the valve is open, and the float is not blocked by something or stuck. Replace any item that is malfunctioning.
The chain on the flapper may also be broken, loose, or disconnected if you do not experience a flush. If you reconnect the chain or repair it so the flapper can operate once again, the issue should be resolved.
What Happens if My Toilet Bowl Doesn’t Empty?
If a toilet bowl doesn’t empty entirely during a flush, then this indicates that there is a blockage within the drain somewhere. Plunge the toilet or use an auger to remove blockages that may be in the way and attempt to flush once again.
In some homes, the water pressure may not be high enough to complete a flush. You may also have the chain which connects the flapper to the lever placed too low or the chain may be too long. If adjusting the chain length doesn’t solve the problem, your plumbing lines will likely need to be inspected.
What Happens if My Toilet Has a Weak Flush?
Toilets that flush weakly or without the same speed they once had are usually affected by scale, mineralization, or sediment. Hard water leaves deposits on the flush holes that are found underneath the rim of the toilet. You can use a mineralization removal cleaner to restore the toilet’s performance, though scrubbing the toilet with a scratch-free sponge can remove the scale as well.
If the scale is stubborn, try white vinegar or lemon juice to remove the product if you wish to avoid cleaning chemicals.
Debris can also get caught in the holes. A wire hanger can dislodge this debris in most instances.
For some toilets, a partial blockage in the trap or drain can also cause a weak flush to occur. Use a plunger or a toilet augur to remove the blockage for best results.
What Happens if My Toilet Is Always Running?
If the toilet is always running and that is interfering with how it flushes, then there is a good possibility that there is a leak somewhere. If the flapper isn’t properly positioned over the drain in the toilet tank, then this will cause water to fall into the toilet bowl. This causes the toilet to run, intermittently or continuously, depending upon the severity of the leak.
To restore the flush, the leak issue must be resolve. For older toilets, that means replacing the flapper. The gaskets which prevent water from leaking to the bowl from the tank wear out over time. Most flappers need to be replaced every 5 years. In some instances, an obstruction could be causing the leak, so removing the obstruction can fix the problem.
You will also want to ensure the float arm in the toilet rises and lowers properly. Replace any parts that appear to be worn out or damaged and this should restore the toilet to proper functionality.
There Are Design Issues Which Can Cause Improper Flushing
A downward slope is required for a drain to properly function within a structure. Pumps are required for homes that cannot have this structure applied for some reason. If a pump isn’t installed the toilet will not function properly. This issue should be seen immediately.
If the toilet was flushing normally, but now is not, then there could be an issue with the venting system. Vents are required for modern plumbing systems to create a neutral air pressure, allowing the water and waste to move properly. An obstruction of the vent on the roof could be reducing the effectiveness of each flush.
The symptoms of a poor flush can indicate what the problem happens to be. Thoroughly inspect your toilet and initiate a response that makes sense. If you continue to experience difficulties with your toilet, be sure to contact a professional plumber right away.