Why Doesn’t My Toilet Flush?
Your toilet should be flowing with strength and ease, swiftly taking away all its cargo with just a press of a button. However, there will come a time when it will struggle to flush, which can be a very unpleasant experience.
In your home, there’s nothing you’d expect and need to work 100% of the time more than your toilet; It’s a matter of comfort, hygiene, cleanliness, and health.
If your porcelain throne is struggling to bring its contents to their rightful destination, the first step to fixing it is to pinpoint the source of the problem.
Here are some of the most common reasons why toilets don’t flush completely and the best ways to fix them:
Your toilet is clogged.
Most of the time, the simplest explanation is the right one. Clogs can range in severity: Some can manifest as slowed-down flushing, and some are severe enough to cause an overflow.
Clogs are mainly caused by items or even waste getting stuck inside the different parts of the toilet. For example, if you’ve been flushing down huge wads of toilet paper or some hard-to-dissolve items like wipes or paper towels, you can clog your toilet.
How to fix it:
Use a plunger to dislodge any blockages within the sewage lines. After pushing a few times, try flushing the toilet to see if the blockage has been pushed through. If the water flow is still sluggish, repeat the process a few more times to see if it fixes the problem.
You can also use a more advanced tool: a toilet auger. It’s similar to a drain snake but specifically designed to unclog toilets. It has a rotating handle that controls a long metal cable, reaching far down the toilet lines to clear blockages.
Don’t have any tools at hand? You can try unclogging a toilet using hot water as well. Do not use boiling water on your toilet bowl as it may crack the porcelain. Instead, carefully but with force, pour a large amount of hot water down your toilet. The pouring action imitates a flush, while the hot water can help dislodge whatever blockage might be in the pipes.
If you’ve tried everything and nothing is working, it’s time to call professionals. Most clogs occur in the toilet’s trap, which is right around the toilet’s base. If the above methods don’t work, you might have a more severe clog in the toilet flange or drain.
A major clog can sometimes require lifting the whole toilet, which a professional plumber can do safely and correctly.
There’s an issue with the flapper.
The flapper is a rubber or plastic part of the toilet that creates a seal between the toilet tank and the bowl. The toilet flapper opens whenever you flush the toilet, letting the water rush in from the tank into the toilet bowl.
If the flapper is damaged, worn out, or misaligned, the seal might break, letting water trickle into the bowl from the tank. Once this happens, your tank will not have enough water to create a full flush, which can be the cause of why your toilet is not flushing all the way.
How to fix it:
Try to see first if the problem is with the flapper. If you see the water in the toilet continuously rippling long after flushing, your flapper might be damaged. You can also use dye to see if water from your tank leaks into the bowl.
You can reposition a misaligned flapper yourself. You can find a replacement for broken flappers at most hardware stores for a low price. It’s pretty easy to replace a flapper, but you can also call professionals to do it for you.
There are issues with the handle and chain.
The flapper is connected to the handle and the chain. Pressing the handle pulls the chain, which opens the flapper and starts the flush.
You can face flushing issues if the handle and chain are malfunctioning. For example, the handle can become loose or stuck in a particular position. Meanwhile, the chain can get disconnected from the handle or the flapper.
How to fix it:
If the handle is stuck or has gone loose, open the tank and inspect the nut and washer that holds the handle. Then, using pliers, tighten or loosen the nut accordingly. Be careful not to strip the threads.
If the threads are already stripped, your best move would be to replace the handle entirely.
If pressing the handle does nothing, the chain is probably disconnected from the handle or the flapper.
Empty the tank first before attempting any fix on the chain. Just turn off the water source and pull the flapper up to drain the water. Then, check where the chain has been disconnected, and use the hooks to reattach it to either the handle or the flapper. Make sure to leave some slack on the chain to ensure that the system works properly.
However, if the chain is broken, you will need to replace it. You can find a replacement easily at your local hardware store.
The inlet holes are clogged.
Water from the tank flows to the bowl through inlet holes located under the rim of your toilet. When the inlet holes are blocked, there won’t be enough water flowing to complete a full flush.
Inlet holes can become clogged over time with bacteria, mineral deposits from water, or any other debris.
How to fix it:
To find out if the cause of your flushing problem is a blockage in your inlet holes, observe the water as it flows into your bowl. Is the flow weak or slow? Is the water not coming out in certain areas of the bowl?
To clean inlet holes, use a brush or a pointed tool. You can also use a piece of wire or anything that can poke through the holes. Target areas where the water is flowing slowly or not at all. You can use a small mirror to look at the inlet holes while cleaning them.
Another method you can try is to pour hot vinegar into the toilet overflow tube to remove mineral buildup. Heat up around 10 to 20 ounces of white vinegar and use a funnel to pour it into the overflow tube. Let the vinegar sit for at least 30 minutes, then flush the toilet. Scrub the remaining debris on the inlet holes and flush once more.
There’s an issue with the float or fill valve.
After every flush, the water in the tank needs to be refilled to be ready for the next use.
When the tank is emptied, the float ball or cup will sink to the bottom, which triggers the fill valve to open and refill the tank. As the water rises, the float follows upward until a set level, triggering the fill valve to shut off.
If the shutoff point for the float is not set at a proper level, your tank might not be getting enough water to create a full flush.
It is also possible for debris to accumulate inside the fill valve itself, creating a clog that restricts water from passing through.
How to fix it:
The method of adjusting the fill valve can differ depending on what type of fill valve your toilet has.
For systems with plastic ball floats, there is usually a screw at the top of the fill valve, which you can turn clockwise to lower the water level and counter-clockwise to raise the water level.
For fill valves with float cups, there’s usually a plastic screw adjustment mechanism that you can turn to set the level of the float. It looks like a small rod connected to the float. Don’t forget to drain the tank before adjusting the float cup fill valve.
There are other types of fill valves, including pressure-activated or floatless ones. If you’re unsure how to adjust them, it’s best to call a plumber to do it for you.
If you suspect your fill valve is clogged, empty the tank first and open the cap on the fill valve. Then, slowly turn back on the water supply for around 10 seconds.
Cover the open top of the valve with your hand or a paper cup to prevent water from spraying around your bathroom. The water flow should clear out the dirt and debris inside the valve.
Afterward, turn off the water supply and place the cap back on. When the cap is securely closed, reopen the water supply and test the flush.
Call a professional service in Seattle, WA.
Still facing flushing issues? If you’ve tried the methods above, but your toilet is still not flushing all the way, you may be facing a more complicated plumbing problem. Your issue might be connected to improper toilet installation or a more complicated blockage further down the sewage line.
Don’t wait until the issue becomes even bigger. Now is the time to pick up the phone and call in the experts.
Fox plumbing is the number 1 most trusted plumbing service provider in Seattle and surrounding areas in King County. We offer top-notch plumbing services like toilet repair, installation, and maintenance.
We guarantee that our plumbers can fix any plumbing issue you may be facing.
Call us now at (206) 654-4986 to schedule an appointment with us.