Stuck in that awkward plumbing limbo where your toilet won’t flush? Fear not. We’re here to explain the most common reasons your toilet may not be flushing and how you can fix them. If you live in L.A., your local plumbers at Mike Diamond are always ready to help.
Your toilet may be clogged (even if you can’t see it) or it may not be getting enough water. Any number of working parts could be faulty too. Before the next person in your home needs to go, let’s, ahem, plunge in and help you fix that toilet that won’t flush.
Your Toilet is Clogged.
An obvious reason why your toilet won’t flush, but a necessary one to consider is that it’s clogged. Never flush anything other than toilet paper and waste down your toilet. Wipes and other items can build up and block your sewer line. Clogs may not be visible if they’re further down the line.
A partial clog somewhere in the line could mean that your toilet will still flush but not very strong. A way to test for a partial clog is to pour a bucket with a gallon of cold water into the bowl. If your toilet still doesn’t flush properly, you probably have a partial clog.
What to do: Use a plunger or toilet auger to loosen things. Make sure you use a flange plunger, since the cup will help you create a better seal in the toilet bowl. Another way to loosen things is to turn off the toilet’s water, flush it, and then add hot (not boiling) water to the bowl. Let the water sit for several minutes, then flush it. If that doesn’t work, either, you should consider snaking the toilet. If your toilet still won’t flush after trying any of the above methods, you may want to consider professional drain cleaning services.
Check Your Toilet’s Handle and Chain
If the handle doesn’t do anything when you flush, you may have an easy fix. The handle connects to the flapper (the valve that holds the water in the tank) via a small length of chain. A simple explanation may be that the chain got disconnected at either end.
It’s also possible that the chain is the wrong length. When you depress the handle, the chain yanks up the flapper to initiate the toilet’s flush. If the toilet chain is too long, it won’t be able to yank up the flapper. If the flapper doesn’t rise, the toilet doesn’t flush. If the chain’s too short, then then your toilet flapper won’t seal properly and your toilet will run without ever completely filling with water.
What to do: Lift off the lid of your toilet tank. Check that both ends of the chain are connected. If they aren’t clip them back into place. If they are, pull the handle to test that the chain is the right length to lift the flapper fully open and also allow it to close tightly.
Why Won’t the Flapper in the Toilet Close?
As mentioned above, the flapper is the rubber valve at the bottom of your toilet’s tank. A toilet’s flapper opens and closes whenever you flush, allowing water to run from the tank into the bowl. When you depress your toilet’s handle, you’re lifting the flapper. Your toilet’s flapper is in constant contact with moving water that, over time, can bend or otherwise warp the flapper.
What to do: Examine your flapper. Does it seal tightly when it’s closed? Can you see wear or damage? Flappers are inexpensive and available at any local hardware store. Turn off the water at the supply valve, drain your toilet tank and replace the flapper. Make sure you reattach the chain. If you need help, we’re standing by.
Adjust or Replace Your Overflow Tube
Your toilet’s overflow tube is a part of the tank near the refill tube. Overflow tubes help empty water directly into the toilet bowl during a flush. These tubes are not infallible, unfortunately. The toilet’s constant pressure can easily crack or otherwise damage them. If the tube does crack, water will run into it instead of past it.
What to do: Replace the overflow tube to restore its ability to work. If your overflow tube isn’t working, give us a call and we’ll diagnose the problem and install the proper part.
Your Toilet Tank isn’t Filling Up All the Way
When you flush your toilet, you release water from the tank into the bowl. Releasing a lot of water into the bowl quickly generates the suction required to flush the toilet. When the tank doesn’t contain enough water, it doesn’t create the necessary pressure for a strong flush. You may notice a weaker flush, or no flush at all.
What to do: Open the tank of your toilet to locate the float and the fill line. Flush the toilet with the tank open and watch the water drain into the bowl and fill back up. If the tube stops adding water before the float reaches the fill line, then your toilet won’t be able to perform a full flush. Adjust the float by moving its position on the arm that connects it to the refill tube. Flush again and see if you’ve solved the problem.
Clean Your Toilet Jets
The toilet jets are the little holes along the underside of the toilet bowl rim. When you flush, the water from the tank above rushes down through these small openings to create the swirling action you see. If they become clogged with lime or corrosion, it will limit the strength of your flush.
What to do: Get a small nail, length of wire or toothbrush and clean the jets. Use watered down bleach or a solution of vinegar. Place a small mirror on the underside of the rim to see which jets are clogged and dig out any blockage to restore them.
Fix Your Toilet that Won’t Flush
Hopefully, you’ve diagnosed the reason why your toilet won’t flush, and everything is moving again. If it’s still not working and you want Los Angeles’ best plumbers to have a look, call or contact Mike Diamond. We’re the plumbing experts who’ll turn your frustrations into flush elations.