Toilet Not Flushing Properly? Fix It Fast!


// Posted by Eco Heating & Air Solutions, Inc.

Have you ever pressed the flush handle, only to see the water not going down? This situation can worry anyone. But, there's a good chance you can fix it yourself. Let's explore how to troubleshoot and fix a toilet that doesn't flush.

Many homeowners have faced a toilet that won't flush. It could be due to clogged pipes or faulty parts inside the tank. In this guide, we'll look at common issues and help you fix your toilet. With some effort and DIY skills, your toilet can work well again.

Key Takeaways

  • Clogged toilets are the leading reason for improper flushing, from complete blockages to partial obstructions.
  • Flappers, located at the bottom of the toilet tank, play a crucial role in effective flushing.
  • Inlet holes around the toilet bowl rim can become clogged, disrupting water flow during the flush.
  • The overflow tube and fill valve assembly, including the float, should be checked for proper function.
  • Frequent clogs may indicate the need to switch to a thinner, more easily dissolvable toilet paper.

Understand the Causes of a Toilet Not Flushing Properly

If your toilet isn't flushing well, there are several reasons why this might happen. By knowing these causes, you can quickly find and fix the problem. This ensures your toilet works properly. Let's look at what usually stops a toilet from flushing right.

Clogged Pipe or Drain

A clogged pipe or drain is a top reason for flushing trouble. Things like waste, toilet paper, or other items can block the water flow, causing a weak flush. Dealing with the clog is often the first step to take care of the flushing issue.

Low Water Level in the Tank

If the water in your toilet tank is low, it lacks the power to clear the bowl when you flush. This might happen because of a faulty fill valve, a leak, or a float problem. These parts control the water level in the tank.

Malfunctioning Flapper

The flapper is a rubber seal that opens and closes to let water into the bowl. If it doesn't work right, the tank won't empty well. This leads to a weak flush.

Clogged Inlet Holes

Mineral deposits, debris, or bacterial growth can clog the small holes around the toilet bowl's edge. This can block the water flow and cause a bad flush when you flush.

Knowing why your toilet doesn't flush right helps you figure out and fix the problem. Catch us in the next section. We'll show you how to check and fix the toilet tank's water level.

Check the Water Level in the Toilet Tank

If your toilet isn't flushing right, start by looking at the water level in the tank. It should sit an inch below the top of the overflow tube. If it's too low, your flush won't be strong enough.

To fix this, you might need to adjust the float or the fill valve. This will bring the water level up to where it should be. Here's what to do:

  1. Lift the toilet tank lid and look at the water level. It should be about an inch below the overflow tube.
  2. If it's too low, find the float and adjust its arm. Bending it up will let more water in.
  3. For a cup ballcock, turning the screw towards the wall raises the water level.
  4. Flush the toilet after each adjustment. Keep tweaking until the water is below the tube top by an inch.

Getting the water level right is key for a good flush. Too low means a weak flush. Too high and your toilet might keep running, wasting water. By getting the water level perfect, you solve many flushing problems.

Clear a Clogged Toilet

If your toilet doesn't flush right, it's often due to a clogged drain. But, you can usually fix it with simple tools. Just remember, hurry before it gets worse and causes more problems.

Using a Plunger

A plunger is the best tool to get a toilet working again. This device uses force to remove the blockage. Here's the right way to use it:

  1. Before using the plunger, make sure the water level is low. You can use a cup to decrease it.
  2. Sit the plunger firmly over the drain, ensuring a seal.
  3. Push and pull the plunger down several times.
  4. After plunging, flush to check if the blockage is gone. If not, try again.

If that doesn't work, you might need a toilet auger. This tool is a long, flexible cable that goes into the drain to clear the clog.

And if all else fails, it's time to bring in a professional plumber. They have the skills and tools to handle even the biggest toilet clogs.

Inspect and Replace the Flapper

If your toilet doesn't flush well, the flapper might be the issue. The flapper is a rubber seal at the toilet tank's bottom. It opens to let water flow into the bowl when you flush. But, if it's too old or damaged, it may not close properly. This stops the tank from fully emptying and causes a weak flush.

First, check the flapper for damage. Look for cracks, color changes, or a bad flush valve seal. If it seems damaged, replacing it might solve the problem. You can often do this quickly, but some like to turn off the water first to be safe.

  1. Disconnect the flapper's lifting chain from the flush lever.
  2. Unclip or unscrew the old flapper from the flush valve.
  3. Ensure the flush valve is clean and free of any sediment buildup.
  4. Install the new flapper, making sure it aligns properly and seals tightly against the valve.
  5. Reattach the lifting chain, adjusting the slack to about 1/2 inch for optimal performance.
  6. Turn the water back on and test the new flapper by flushing the toilet.

Changing a worn or damaged flapper often resolves flapper problems and faulty flush valve issues. Making sure the seal is tight can fix the constant running water sound. It also helps prevent a leaky toilet flapper, which can waste a lot of water. By following simple steps, you can repair the seal issues. Your toilet will work as good as new.

Check the Inlet Holes

The small holes around the edge of the toilet bowl are key for flushing. They let water out of the tank into the bowl when you flush. But, if they get blocked with minerals or debris, the flush will be weak and slow.

Keep an eye on these holes and clean them often. This ensures the flush works well. A slow toilet flush happens when these holes get clogged, so fix it fast.

Clearing Clogged Inlet Holes

Here's how to unblock those holes:

  • A tiny brush or toothpick can knock loose and remove built-up minerals or debris.
  • Try using a wire brush or a toilet cleaner with a small, pointed tip to clean tricky spots.
  • If minerals are really stuck, water and white vinegar in the overflow tube for 30 mins can help break them up.

Regularly cleaning the toilet and its inlet holes is important. This keeps water flowing right and flushes working well. It avoids problems like restricted water flow and sluggish flushing.

Examine the Overflow Tube

Is your toilet not flushing right? One reason could be the overflow tube. It is a vertical pipe in the middle of the tank. Its job is to prevent the tank from overfilling by draining extra water. But, a crack in this tube can make water constantly leak into the bowl. This leads to a bad flush.

To fix overflow tube issues, first, check for wear or damage. Inspect the tube for cracks and holes. If it looks fine, make sure the tank's water level stays steady. A fluctuating level hints the tube might be leaking water.

Need to change the overflow tube? It's often a DIY job. Start by turning off the toilet's water. Then, flush to drain the tank. Now, unscrew the old tube and put a new one in. Make sure it's tight. Lastly, turn the water back on and check if the flush improves.

  1. Inspect the overflow tube for cracks, holes, or other damage.
  2. Check the water level in the tank to see if it's consistently draining through the overflow tube.
  3. If the overflow tube is compromised, replace it with a new one.

Fixing overflow tube problems can get your toilet flushing right again. This small repair can make the water levels and flush work as they should.

Toilet not flushing properly

If your toilet doesn't flush right, it's a big issue. It's frustrating and makes things difficult. But, you might be able to fix it yourself. You just need to check a few things and maybe do some small repairs.

First, see if the water level is okay. Next, check for any clogs. Inspect the flapper and inlet to see if they're all clear. Finally, take a look at the overflow tube.

A common reason for a bad flush is a clogged toilet. Usually, clogs are in the toilet's trap, which is the curved part under it. A plunger or toilet auger can often fix this problem. They help clear the way for water to move properly.

Another issue might be a broken flapper. This is the part that lets water from the tank into the bowl. If the flapper is old, it might not seal well anymore. This leads to water leaking and a weak flush. You should check the flapper and replace it if needed.

  • Check the water level in the tank to ensure it's at the recommended mark, usually about an inch below the top of the overflow tube.
  • Examine the inlet holes around the rim of the toilet bowl for any mineral buildup or debris that could be clogging the water flow.
  • Inspect the overflow tube and make sure it's not obstructed, as a blocked tube can prevent the tank from filling up completely.

If you keep having trouble flushing, try adjusting the fill valve system. Sometimes, the float or the valve gets stuck or is set wrong. This can cause a weak flush by not filling the tank right. Always follow the manufacturer's advice to fix this.

Many common flushing problems can be solved without a plumber. But if your toilet still doesn't flush well, a plumber might be needed. They can help you if your DIY efforts don't work.

Adjust the Fill Valve Assembly

If you're still having trouble with the toilet after the first steps, the fill valve could be the issue. This valve fills the tank after a flush. A float that's not right, or a clogged valve, can cause a weak flush.

First, check the fill valve and float for any issues. The float should move freely up and down. If it doesn't, carefully bend the rod to adjust the water level.

  1. Check the fill valve for blockages due to fill valve problems. Clean it with a brush or rag if needed.
  2. Make sure the fill valve is set correctly. The water level should be an inch below the overflow tube top. Adjust the screw on the valve to get the right float adjustment.
  3. If the fill valve looks damaged, replace it. This will fix any tank fill issues you're facing.

Getting the fill valve and float right means a full tank and a strong flush. If the problem continues, installing a new fill valve might be necessary.

Try Hot Water for Mild Clogs

If a plunger or an auger doesn't solve your clogged toilet, hot water can help. Pour two to three buckets of hot, but not boiling, water into the bowl. This can soften and remove the blockage.

This method works well for mild clogs. It clears them without needing tough tools. Yet, be careful not to use too-hot water. It might harm your toilet parts.

  1. Boil a kettle or pot of water, but ensure it's not at a full rolling boil (212°F).
  2. Carefully pour the hot water directly into the toilet bowl, aiming for the center of the bowl.
  3. Allow the hot water to sit for a few minutes, then try flushing the toilet again.
  4. Repeat the hot water treatment if the first attempt doesn't clear the clog.

This hot water for clogs trick can help you fix mild clogs with ease. If it doesn't work, try other alternative clog removal methods. Or, think about getting help from a plumber.

Call a Professional if the Problem Persists

After all your DIY tries, if your toilet still doesn't flush right, a pro plumber may be needed. Some issues, like big clogs or serious plumbing problems, need the skills of a professional plumber.

If figuring out the toilet problem is tough, don't delay in getting professional help. Many minor toilet issues can be solved on your own. But, when it's a bigger problem, calling a plumbing expert is smart.

Here's when to know it's time to get a plumber for your toilet:

  • The clog is hard to clear with a plunger or auger
  • You think there's a plumbing problem, perhaps a sewer line blockage
  • There's a leak or the tank water level is always low
  • You've tried fixes but the flushing problem persists

A plumber can find and fix what's wrong with your toilet. For those tricky and complex toilet issues, experts have the skills and gear for the job. When your toilet acts up, don't wait - call for help.


Keeping your toilet flushing well is key for ease and saving water. Knowing what often causes issues, like toilet maintenance, plumbing tips, and home repair, can help you fix things without a pro. Always focus on safety and get help from an expert if you can't solve it on your own.

Reguar toilet maintenance is vital. Avoid flushing things that don't belong and check for leaks. This helps prevent issues and keeps your toilet working well. If you face a clog or a broken flapper, use this guide to try and fix it yourself.

Some home repairs and DIY plumbing are doable with basic skills and tools. But some tough problems may need a plumber. Stay ahead with toilet maintenance. If you need help beyond your skills, a plumber can tackle any serious flushing troubles. This keeps your toilet in top working order and avoids any stressful flushing issues.

Electric Heat pump outside
About Eco Heating & Air Solutions, Inc.
Residential and light commercial heating, cooling, air quality, and plumbing are specialties at Eco Heating & Air Solutions, Inc. We provide home and business owners in Oak Ridge, TN and surrounding areas free estimates, service of all makes and models, and trusted solutions to everyday requirements.

We are an eco-friendly, award-winning company and uphold Better Business Bureau accreditation. Our team of professionals is NATE-certified, drug-free, and dedicated to earning your approval and loyalty.


What are the common reasons for a toilet not flushing properly?

There are several reasons why a toilet might not flush right. One common cause is a pipe that's clogged. Also, the tank might not have enough water. Another possibility is a faulty flapper. Finally, the holes around the bowl's rim might be blocked.

How do I check the water level in the toilet tank?

To check, the water level in the tank should be around an inch below the overflow tube's top. If it's lower, the flush won't be strong enough.

How do I clear a clogged toilet?

You can clear a toilet clog using a plunger. Or, use a toilet auger, also known as a closet auger or plumber's snake.

What should I do if the flapper in the toilet tank is malfunctioning?

First, check the flapper. Replace it if it's old, damaged, or doesn't seal well. This will fix flushing problems.

How can I address clogged inlet holes around the toilet bowl?

First, look into the holes around the toilet bowl. Then, use a scrubber or toothpick to clear any debris. This will help the water flow properly again.

What should I do if the overflow tube is damaged?

If the tube is damaged, the toilet might not flush well. It leads to low water levels in the tank. So, replace it if it's cracked or broken.

How can I troubleshoot issues with the fill valve assembly?

Start by checking the fill valve and float. Make sure they work well. Adjust or replace them if needed to fill the tank properly. This will make sure the water level is right for a good flush.

Can I use hot water to help clear a mild toilet clog?

Yes. Slowly pour hot, but not boiling, water into the toilet bowl. This can help clear up a mild blockage.

When should I call a professional plumber for a toilet that won't flush properly?

After trying DIY steps and the toilet still won't flush, call a plumber. This is especially true for tough clogs or if the issue seems more complicated.

Electric Heat pump outside
About Eco Heating & Air Solutions, Inc.
Residential and light commercial heating, cooling, air quality, and plumbing are specialties at Eco Heating & Air Solutions, Inc. We provide home and business owners in Oak Ridge, TN and surrounding areas free estimates, service of all makes and models, and trusted solutions to everyday requirements.

We are an eco-friendly, award-winning company and uphold Better Business Bureau accreditation. Our team of professionals is NATE-certified, drug-free, and dedicated to earning your approval and loyalty.

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