Among the many plumbing components in the average home, the toilets present get some of the most regular use. If any toilet in your home or building will not flush, this is both a frustrating and potentially telltale sign of some sort of issue taking place — luckily, both identifying this issue and remedying it is very simple in most cases.
This is especially true if you have a line to a great local plumber, who will assist you with everything from simple toilet operational issues through sewer line clogs, drain cleaning, water heaters and many other themes. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common reasons why toilets may be refusing to flush, plus what can be done about them — whether on your own or with the help of professional plumbers.
Perhaps the single most common reason behind a toilet that’s refusing to flush is a simple clog in the drainage system. This may be due to something as innocuous as too much toilet paper or feminine hygiene products caught in the pipe, but can also be indicative of a more serious problem like a sewer line blockage.
In any case, the first step is usually to try and clear the clog manually using a plunger. If that doesn’t work, the next step is usually to use a plumbing snake or auger to clear the blockage. If that still doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to call in the professionals.
A major tip here: We recommend against the use of liquid chemical drain cleaners, as these can often do more harm than good, corroding pipes and causing further clogs in the future.
Lift Chain is Too Loose
Many of us have experienced the following situation: You go to press down the handle and flush your toilet, but instead of feeling the normal resistance while the toilet begins flushing, you feel nothing — and there’s no flush.
This means the lift chain inside your tank, which is responsible for raising and lowering the flapper valve, is too loose. To fix this, you can either tighten the chain or, if that’s not possible, add a weight to it.
Water Level Too Low
Toilets require a certain minimum level of water in order to properly flush. If the water level in your tank is too low, your toilet will not be able to do its job.
One way to remedy this is to add more water to the tank, either by using the fill valve or a pitcher. If that’s not possible or doesn’t solve the problem, you may need to have your water level adjusted by a professional.
Ballcock is Malfunctioning
The ballcock, or fill valve, is the part of your toilet that controls how much water enters the tank. If it’s malfunctioning, it can cause the water level to be too high or too low, which can then prevent the toilet from flushing correctly.
If you think your ballcock may be the problem, you can test it by filling a container with water and placing it beneath the fill valve. If the valve opens and releases water when you turn it on, then the valve is working properly. If not, it needs to be replaced.
Flapper Valve is Malfunctioning
The flapper valve is the part of your toilet that’s responsible for sealing off the opening in the bottom of the tank, which prevents water from seeping out. If it’s not working correctly, it can cause your toilet to constantly run or not flush properly.
If you think the flapper valve may be the problem, you can test it by dropping a few drops of food coloring into the tank and waiting a few minutes. If the color appears in the bowl, it means the flapper valve is not closing properly and needs to be replaced.
If you’ve tried all of the above without success, you may have a main sewer line or related issue, and should call the pros immediately.