Wondering why your toilet won’t flush even though it’s not clogged? There are several reasons why a toilet won’t flush even when it’s not clogged. While there might be minor blockages occurring, chances are that something is jammed in the toilet itself.
Toilet jams don’t necessarily mean that something is stuck in the pipes, it’s possible the water tank is busted. Try to fix this problem on your own by going through the reasons why it could be happening. However, the best thing to do is consult an expert to assess your situation and determine the best solution.
In this article, we discuss the different possibilities of an unclogged toilet failing to flush properly. Learn more about what you can do about each circumstance to get your toilet back to flushing normally!
If you determine your toilet is in fact clogged, here’s an article I wrote that you’ll find helpful: “How to Unclog a Toilet at Home Yourself: 7 Methods”.
Reasons Why a Toilet Won’t Flush When Not Clogged
There are several reasons why your toilet might not flush even when it doesn’t appear to be clogged. In most cases, the flush works fine but the water just doesn’t go down the way it should.
Other reasons involve damage to the toilet bowl itself. Here’s a list of the different possibilities:
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#1: Toilet is Jammed
One common possibility is that the toilet is jammed. Toilets can become jammed for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes, it’s due to normal wear and tear. Over time, the parts inside your toilet tank can become loose and fall into the wrong position. This damage often happens with the flush valve or fill valve, both can be bought on Amazon. When these parts are in the wrong position, they can cause a toilet to become jammed.
Jams also occur when foreign objects get stuck in the toilet tank, like:
- other small objects
In some cases, you may be able to see the object that’s causing the jam. In other cases, you may need to disassemble the toilet tank to find the object.
If the tank needs to be disassembled, consider that some toilet bowls have separate water tanks while others are attached to the toilet itself.
Separate toilet tanks are easier to repair because they are detached from the bowl. Singular toilets that become jammed tend to be expensive to replace if it turns out to be damaged beyond repair.
#2: Cracked Toilet Bowl
Another possibility is that the toilet bowl is cracked, which can happen for a variety of reasons. The most common cause of cracks is physical damage. Toilets are durable but can easily be damaged when:
- an object drops on it
- something is dropped into it
- someone sits on the lid
In some cases, cracks can also occur due to manufacturing defects. Toilet bowls are made from porcelain, which is a type of ceramic. Ceramics are susceptible to cracking if they’re not properly glazed or fired during manufacturing.
NOTE: This possibility explains why it’s important to purchase toilets from reputable brands and thoroughly check the item before buying it.
- Inspect the toilet bowl thoroughly for any cracks which might explain why it doesn’t flush like before.
- Look inside the tank as well for any cracks that might be invisible from the outside.
- If you spot any cracks, replacement is the best solution.
#3: Damaged Water Inlet Valve
The water inlet valve is what supplies water to the toilet tank, and is usually located behind the toilet bowl. Toilets that don’t flush might have a damaged water inlet valve.
Usually, the problem with this valve is that it’s not turned on all the way. Check if the valve is fully open before assuming it’s damaged.
Another possibility is that something is blocking the valve. Toilet tanks often have sediment buildup which can cause the valve to become clogged and prevent water from flowing into the tank. To fix this problem, clean out the valve and remove any sediment that might be blocking it.
Sediment buildup in your toilet’s water inlet valve suggests that you have hard water, which has a high mineral content that builds up after passing through your appliances.
NOTE: This problem is something you must bring to your water provider.
#4: Leaking Fill Tube
A toilet fill tube is a part that supplies water to the bowl after it is flushed. Toilets that have a leaking fill tube often have water constantly running into the bowl, so it is full even before you flush it. To check if your fill tube is leaking, look inside the tank and see if water is dripping from it.
If the fill tube is indeed leaking, then the problem is most likely a faulty washer. Toilet tanks have a supply of water that flows into the bowl when you flush it, which is controlled by a washer located at the end of the fill tube. Over time, this washer can become loose and cause your fill tube to leak.
To fix a leaking fill tube, simply tighten the washer. If the washer is damaged, replace it with a new one in this kit found on Amazon.
#5: Damaged or Too Short Flapper Chain
The flapper is a rubber valve located at the bottom of the toilet tank. This valve controls the flow of water from the tank to the bowl.
The flapper chain lifts the flapper when you flush the toilet. Toilets that have a damaged or short flapper chain often have a flapper that doesn’t close all the way. As a result, water constantly leaks from the tank into the bowl.
To check if the flapper chain is damaged or too short, lift the tank lid and inspect the chain. If the flapper is open when the toilet is not in use, then it is most likely causing the flushing problem.
Fix this problem by simply changing the flapper chain which can be bought on Amazon. It could have disconnected or broken links or is simply too short for your toilet.
How to Fix a Clogged Toilet That Still Flushes
There are a handful of ways to fix a clogged toilet that has a weak flush, start with this:
- inspect the toilet
- identify the issue
- collect the right tools
Here are some methods to fix a clogged toilet that still flushes.
Although you might be convinced that the toilet is not clogged, there might be some hidden blockage that’s causing a flushing problem. To check, use a plunger, (Amazon link), to clear the blockage.
Simply place the plunger over the toilet bowl and push it down. After a few seconds, pull up the plunger to see if water starts flowing into the bowl. If it does, then your toilet is most likely not clogged.
If the plunger doesn’t seem to be working, try a slightly more forceful technique when plunging. Try not to be forceful to the point of splashing toilet water.
Place the plunger down on the toilet to have a good seal and pump harder than before. Any material that was clogging the toilet should get cleared to flush normally.
Otherwise, there might be another problem preventing the toilet from flushing.
#2: Toilet Brush
Use a strong toilet brush like this one from Amazon with long, tiny bristles that can reach the toilet’s siphon jets, which are small openings under the toilet bowl’s rim. A toilet might not flush correctly if these jets are clogged.
One way to determine whether the problem lies in the siphon jets is to observe the water flow direction upon flushing.
- If the water comes straight down, the siphon jet holes may need cleaning.
- If water flows outward in a circular pattern, then the holes are not clogged.
To clean the siphon jets, insert the toilet brush into each hole and scrub vigorously. To make sure that the bristles reach as far down as possible, angle the brush towards the center of the bowl. After cleaning each hole, flush the toilet to see if it works better than before.
#3: Soap and Hot Water
Try this method to fix the toilet without using too much force or effort using water right off the boil and dish soap or shampoo. The goal is to soften any debris that might prevent the toilet from flushing properly.
Pour the liquid soap or shampoo into the toilet and follow it up with hot water. Wait about 15 minutes to allow the soap and hot water to soften any potential buildup in the toilet.
Ideally, this solution will unclog anything that plungers or brushes cannot reach. After waiting, try flushing the toilet. It should flush normally!
#4: Vinegar and Baking Soda
This solution is similar to the previous one where a plunger or brush is not needed.
Add a cup of baking soda to the toilet and wait for about five minutes. Next, pour two cups of vinegar into the toilet. Be sure to pour the vinegar in slowly to avoid any overflow from the natural reaction that occurs when mixing the two substances.
Allow the baking soda and vinegar mixture to sit for a few minutes before flushing to see whether it worked. You may need to conduct this more than once if it doesn’t fix it the first time.
After using this method three times, if the issue still persists then the problem may be much deeper in the toilet.
#5: Drain Snake
If all the other potential causes have been checked and the toilet is still not flushing correctly, then the blockage might be further down the drain. To check, use a drain snake like this one on Amazon, to clear any blockages that might be present in the pipes.
Insert the drain snake into the toilet bowl and push it down until you hit something solid. This “something” could be the source of the flushing problem.
Turn the snake clockwise until there is resistance caused by the blockage wrapping around the drain snake. To clear the blockage, continue turning the drain snake until you feel it loosening up.
Once you’ve cleared the blockage, pull the drain snake out of the toilet and flush it to see if it works better than before. If not, then there might be another problem causing your flushing issues.
When to Call a Professional Plumber
If all of the above methods have been tried and the toilet is still not flushing correctly, then it’s time to call a professional. Toilet problems are sometimes caused by bigger issues such as tree roots growing into the pipes. This is a job best left to professionals as it involves more complicated methods to fix.
The cost of hiring a professional depends on the severity of the problem. Usually, plumbers charge by the hour with a minimum fee. To get an idea of how much it will cost, ask for quotes from different plumbers in your area.
HOT TIP: Be sure to ask about the hourly rate as well as the minimum fee so you can budget accordingly.
Hiring a professional to fix your toilet might cost more than doing it yourself, but it will save you time and effort in the long run. Plus, you can be sure that the problem will be fixed correctly the first time!
There are a few different reasons why your toilet is not flushing correctly. To fix the problem, start by checking the most common causes such as a clogged bowl or a blockage in the pipes. If these don’t work, move on to other potential solutions such as using soap and hot water or vinegar and baking soda. If all else fails, call a professional plumber to take a look at your toilet.
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