If your toilet is stuck and won’t flush you're not alone. Titan Plumbing is here to explain the most common causes of a blocked toilet and how to repair them if they happen.
Your toilet may be clogged (even if you can't see it) or it may not be receiving enough water. Any number of functioning components could also be broken. Let's, ahem, plunge in and assist you in repairing that toilet that won't flush, before someone else in your house has to go.
It's Most Likely Clogged
Never forget to consider this as a likely culprit, no matter how obvious and unlikely it may seem. Remember that your toilet is only there to flush down toilet paper and waste. Don't overburden it with wipes or other items, unless those are degradable (it will say so on the package) as those can build up and completely block the sewer lines that are connected to your house. Sometimes these clogs can occur further down these lines, so they may not always be visible.
If your toilet is flushing but not very strongly, then you may be dealing with a partial clog. A good method for detecting a partial block is to pour a bucket of cold water into the toilet bowl. If your toilet still doesn't flush properly afterward, you are most likely dealing with a partial clog.
Here's what you can do: To loosen things up, use a plunger or toilet auger. Make sure you're using a flange plunger because the cup will aid in the formation of a better seal in the toilet bowl. Another approach to loosen things is to turn off the water supply for the toilet, flush it, then fill it with warm (but not boiling!) water. Allow several minutes for the water to sit, then flush it. If that doesn't work, consider snaking the toilet. If none of the above suggestions work, you may want to consider professional drain cleaning services.
Are Your Toilet's Handle and Chain In Working Order?
If you notice that the handle does not function when you flush, you might be lucky; it's an easy fix. A small chain typically connects the handle to the flapper (the tank within the toilet that keeps the water in place), so it's possible that the chain parted at either end.
In some cases, the chain might be the wrong length. Normally, that chain pulls up on the flapper to start the flushing sequence when you depress it. If the chain is too long however, the flapper won't be yanked up and as a result, flushing won't occur. The chain might also be too short, in which case the toilet flapper won't seal properly, leaving the tank to run endlessly without ever filling up with water.
Here's what you can do: First you need to check the condition of the chain. Remove the lid from your toilet tank and make sure both ends of the chain are linked. If they aren’t, clip them back into place. If necessary, pull the handle to test that the chain is long enough to fully open and then tightly close the flapper.
Is Your Flapper Not Closing Properly?
The flapper is the rubber valve at the bottom of your toilet’s tank. Typically, the flapper opens and closes every time you flush, as it mediates the flow of water from the tank into the toilet bowl. Given that it is in constant contact with running water, the flapper can, over time, bend or twist.
If it's not closing all the way, this will cause your tank to constantly refill, which means your toilet won't flush properly. You'll know that this is happening when you hear your tank constantly refilling or when you notice that your water bill has increased for no reason.
Here's what you can do: If your flapper is bent or twisted, try straightening it out. Try checking for signs of damage while you are at it. If there's wear, you can always buy a new flapper at a local hardware store, as they come pretty cheap. If you go that route, make sure to empty the tank after turning off the water supply and replace the flapper. Don't forget to reattach the chain, and don't hesitate to call on professional support if needed.
Check Your Overflow Tube
The overflow tube of your toilet is located near the refill tube in the tank. During a flush, overflow tubes help direct water straight into the toilet bowl. Unfortunately, they are not indestructible. The constant pressure in the toilet might easily fracture or otherwise damage them. If that happens, water will run into it rather than past it, preventing a proper flush.
Here's what you can do: To restore your overflow tube's capability to function, remove it and replace it. Don't hesitate to call for professional support, as overflow tubes can be tricky.
Toilet Tank Never Filling Up?
When you flush your toilet, the water in the tank is released into the bowl. The amount of water released into the bowl rapidly creates the suction necessary to cleanse the toilet. When there isn't enough water in the tank, it prevents it from generating adequate pressure for a powerful flush. You may notice a weaker flush or no flush at all as a result of this problem.
Solution: Locate the float and the fill line in the tank of your toilet. Flush your toilet with the tank open, and watch as the water drains into the bowl and fills back up again. If the tube stops adding water before your float reaches the fill line, you won't be able to do a complete flush. Adjusting the float's location on the arm that connects it to the refill tube should fix any issues. Flush once more to see if you've resolved whatever was wrong.
Keep Your Toilet Jets Clean
The toilet jets are tiny holes running along the underside of the toilet bowl rim. The water from the tank above rushes down through these tiny apertures, creating the swirling action you observe, when you flush. It will reduce the power of your flush if they become clogged with lime or corrosion.
Solution: Remove any gunk trapped in the jets with a small nail, wire, or toothbrush. Clean the nozzles using diluted bleach or a solution of vinegar. To inspect which jets are clogged and clear any blockages, place a tiny mirror, or even your phone's camera on the underside of the rim.
Problems Still There?
By this point you are capable of diagnosing most things that could be preventing your toilet from flushing. If the problem persists, contact us for professional support. We are always here to help!