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How to Fix a Toilet That Won’t Flush? A DIY Fix

When you have a malfunctioning toilet, it can turn a simple daily task into a frustrating experience. However, before reaching for the phone to call a plumber, it’s worth exploring some DIY steps to fix the issue yourself.

So, how to fix a toilet that won’t flush? To fix a non-flushing toilet, follow the steps below.

  1. Check the water level in the toilet tank
  2. Fix the toilet flapper if it’s damaged
  3. Unclog the toilet with a plunger
  4. Inspect the inlet holes of the toilet bowl
  5. Ensure the toilet is installed properly, etc.

In this article, we will show you some tips and guides on how to fix a toilet that won’t flush. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or prefer to call in a professional, this guide will help you tackle the issue and get your toilet back in working order.

Why A Toilet Won’t Flush?

Here are some common reasons why a toilet won’t flush.

  • Insufficient water level
  • Faulty flapper
  • Malfunctioning fill valve
  • Loose or disconnected chain
  • Clogged drain or trap
  • Water supply valve issues
  • Blocked or obstructed toilet jets
  • Problematic overflow tube

How to Fix a Toilet that Won’t Flush? A Step-by-Step Process

fix a toilet that won't flush

Now let’s move into the tips and processes to get rid of those possible reasons behind your non-flushing toilet.

Tools and Materials Needed

To fix a toilet that won’t flush, the following tools and materials are needed

  • Adjustable wrench: Useful for loosening or tightening nuts and bolts.
  • Screwdriver: Both a flat-head and a Phillips-head screwdriver are needed for various components of the toilet.
  • Plunger: Essential for clearing simple clogs in the toilet drain.
  • Toilet auger: A specialized tool designed for clearing stubborn clogs in the toilet drain or trap.
  • Bucket: Handy for emptying water from the toilet tank or catching any water spill during repairs.
  • Vinegar or descaling solution: Used for cleaning mineral deposits and debris from toilet jets or other components.
  • Replacement parts: Depending on the specific issue, you need replacement parts such as a flapper, fill valve, overflow tube, or chain.
  • Gloves: It’s recommended to wear gloves to protect your hands during repairs.
  • Flashlight: A flashlight can come in handy if you need to inspect hard-to-reach areas or check for clogs.

How To Fix A Non-flushing Toilet?

Simply try out each of the simple tips provided below to give your toilet a quick and easy flush. 

Check The Water Level

Begin by checking the water level in the tank, which should ideally be approximately an inch below the overflow tube. If the toilet tank is not filled up to the appropriate level, there’s a problem with the fill valve or float. In that case, follow the steps below.

  • Step 1: Remove the lid of the tank and inspect the water level. If it’s too low, there won’t be sufficient water to generate sufficient flushing power.
  • Step 2: Check the water level adjustment screw on the fill valve (located on the top of the valve) and adjust it to increase the water level if necessary.
  • Step 3: To adjust the water level, locate the float mechanism, typically a ball or an adjustable arm.
  • Step 4: Use a screwdriver to adjust the screw on the top of the metallic arm to raise the float and increase the water level to the designated fill line

Inspect The Flapper

The flapper is a rubber valve located at the bottom of the toilet tank. Its purpose is to release water when the toilet is flushed and then seal the water intake hole to allow the tank to refill.

Sometimes the flapper can accumulate dirt, wear out, or become misaligned, leading to improper sealing and disrupting the flushing process. If you notice that the flapper is not sealing correctly, follow the steps below to rectify it.

Step 1: Lift the lid of the tank to check if the flapper is damaged, worn, or misaligned.

Step 2: Ensure that the flapper is properly seated on the flush valve opening to create a tight seal when the tank is full.

Step 3: If the flapper is damaged or doesn’t seal properly, it will need to be replaced.

Here are the replacement process for a damaged flapper

  • Turn off the water supply.
  • Remove the tank lid.
  • Drain the tank.
  • Identify the flapper.
  • Disconnect the flapper from the flush handle or chain.
  • Remove the old flapper from its seat.
  • Select the appropriate replacement flapper with the correct size and shape for your toilet model.
  • Install the new flapper onto the seat by sliding it onto the overflow valve and securing it in place.
  • Reconnect the chain or lift wire to the flapper.
  • Turn on the water supply.
  • Test the flapper by allowing the tank to fill with water and observing its performance.

Step 4: If the issue persists, replace the faulty flush valve.

Check The Chain Or Lift Wire

The chain or lift wire connects the toilet handle to the flapper. A loose or tangled chain can prevent the flapper from lifting fully when the handle is pressed, resulting in a weak or incomplete flush. So do the following to fix it.

  1. Make sure the chain has just enough slack to operate smoothly without getting caught or tangled.
  2. Adjust the chain’s length if needed to ensure it lifts the flapper entirely when the toilet handle is activated.
  3. If it’s torn, replace it with a new chain and reattach it with the flapper.

Check The Water Supply Valve

Ensure that the water supply valve, usually located near the floor behind the toilet, is fully open. If the valve is partially closed, it can restrict water flow, resulting in a weak or incomplete flush.

  • Turn the valve counterclockwise to ensure it is fully open, allowing maximum water flow to the toilet tank.

Clean Your Toilet Jets

Over time, mineral deposits and debris can accumulate in the toilet jets, affecting water flow and causing flushing issues. To clean the jets,

  1. Start by turning off the water supply valve behind the toilet and flushing to drain the tank.
  2. Use a small brush, such as a toothbrush,  vinegar, or a descaling solution to scrub the jets and remove any deposits.
  3. Once cleaned, turn the water supply valve back on and test the flush to see if the issue is resolved.

Correct or Replace Your Overflow Tube

The overflow tube prevents the toilet tank from overflowing by diverting excess water into the bowl. If the tube is set too high, it can cause the tank to stop filling before it reaches the proper level, leading to weak or incomplete flushes. To adjust the overflow tube,

  1. Locate the tube in the middle of the toilet tank and adjust the clip or screw to lower it.
  2. If adjusting doesn’t resolve the issue, the overflow tube is damaged and requires replacement.

Here are the steps to replace an overflow tube.

  • Step 1: Gather the necessary tools and materials: pliers or adjustable wrench, hacksaw or tubing cutter, new overflow tube, Teflon tape or plumber’s putty.
  • Step 2: Shut off the water supply to the toilet.
  • Step 3: Remove the tank lid.
  • Step 4: Drain the remaining water from the tank.
  • Step 5: Disconnect the water supply line from the tank.
  • Step 6: Remove the tank from the bowl by loosening and removing the bolts or nuts.
  • Step 7: Locate and remove the nut or clip securing the old overflow tube.
  • Step 8: Use pliers or a wrench to loosen and remove the nut or clip.
  • Step 9: Pull out the old overflow tube from the top of the tank.
  • Step 10: Install the new overflow tube, ensuring it fits securely and is aligned properly.
  • Step 11: Use a nut or clip to secure the new overflow tube in place.

Clear any Clogs

If you notice slow drainage or no drainage at all, there is a blockage in the toilet or the drainpipe. Hence, follow the solutions below.

  1. Start by using a plunger to dislodge the clog. Put the plunger in place over the draining hole, and after giving it a good push down, rapidly bring it back up to create a suction.
  2. Repeat this plunging action several times to help remove the obstruction.
  3. In cases of stubborn clogs, consider using a toilet auger (also known as a plumbing snake) to break up and remove the blockage.

Seek Professional Help if Necessary

After following the above steps and your toilet still won’t flush, or if you’re unsure of the repair, it’s best to seek professional assistance. Plumbers have the expertise to diagnose and fix more complex issues with your toilet, and they can ensure a thorough and lasting solution.

When Should I Call A Professional Plumber To Fix My Toilet That Won’t Flush?

  • Persistent or recurring clogs that cannot be cleared with a plunger or toilet auger
  • After multiple unsuccessful attempts at DIY repairs
  • Drainage problems affect multiple fixtures in your home, indicating potential issues with the main sewer line
  • Unusual noises, such as gurgling or bubbling, come from the toilet
  • Water leaks around the base of the toilet
  • Lack of knowledge or experience with plumbing systems and repairs
  • The toilet is still under warranty, as attempting DIY repairs will void the warranty
  • Need for specialized equipment or expertise to handle complex or extensive repairs


Some questions people also ask about how to fix a toilet that won’t flush and answers to them are given below. Follow up to know more.

Q: What are some signs that indicate I need to replace the internal components of my toilet?

Signs include frequent leaks, weak flushes, constantly running water, or visible damage to components like the flapper or fill valve. It’s best to consult a professional plumber for an accurate assessment.

Q: How often should I perform maintenance on my toilet to prevent flushing problems?

Twice a year is a good rule of thumb to prevent potential flushing issues.

Q: Are there any preventive measures to avoid toilet flushing problems?

Yes, avoid flushing non-flushable items such as wipes or sanitary products, and educate household members on proper toilet usage. Regular cleaning and maintenance will also help prevent future issues.

Final Words

Having a toilet that won’t flush can be a frustrating experience. In this article, we covered common reasons why toilets fail to flush and provided some tips to fix them. This ranges from inspecting the flapper and checking the chain to cleaning the toilet jets and adjusting the water level.

We offered practical solutions to fix the problem. However, it’s important to know when to call a professional plumber, especially for complex issues. We also emphasized the significance of regular maintenance and prevention measures to keep your toilet functioning properly.