4 Common Reasons Your Toilet Isn’t Flushing Properly

4 Common Reasons Your Toilet Isn’t Flushing Properly

Photo By New Africa at Shutterstock

A toilet that isn’t flushing correctly can be a pain in the behind. Some common flushing issues can be fixed with a plunger and a little effort, while others may require you to call your local plumber.

These are some of the more common reasons that your toilet won’t flush, and a quick tutorial on how to fix them.

Loose Chain

The chain in the toilet connects the flushing handle to the mechanism that flushes the toilet. When the chain comes loose, you can tell because the flushing handle is wiggly, without giving resistance.

If the chain is too loose, if it’s disconnected, or if it’s become stretched out, then the rubber flapper won’t stay lifted long enough to allow the water valve to fill up. If you notice that the chain is attached but stretched or otherwise isn’t lifting the flapper long enough, then you’ll need to replace the chain.

Toilet chains can be found at most hardware stores and are a fairly inexpensive fix, although if you know you aren’t handy around the house, then a plumbercan fix the chain for you. If you do decide to replace the toilet chain yourself, you’ll need a pair of needle-nosed pliers to aid the repair.

Here is how to replace the chain:

  • First, shut off the water supply to the toilet. You don’t have to shut off the water for the whole house – most bathroom fixtures have individual water shut-off valves
  • Flush the toilet to empty the tank
  • Lift the lid from the top of the tank and set it aside. You can put a towel down on the floor if you’re concerned about the mess
  • Using pliers, remove the chain from the flush handle on the left-hand side. The other part of the chain is connected to the rubber flapper, on top of the water fill valve
  • Remove the flapper from the tank and set it aside
  • Use the pliers to remove the chain from the flapper

Now, it’s time to add the new chain:

  • Gently use the pliers to unbend the last link in the new toilet chain. Hook the chain into the flapper
  • Place the flapper back in the tank, reinstalling it with the chain hanging out, so you don’t have to fish it out of the tank if it falls in
  • Using the pliers, unfold the last link on the other side of the chain. Then, gently re-hook the new chain onto the flush handle and use the pliers to install it into place
  • Jiggle the chain a few times to make sure that it’s hooked in place firmly
  • Turn the water supply to the toilet back on and do a test flush

Low Water Level

Low water levels in the toilet can keep the water valve from having enough volume to fully flush the toilet. This is fairly simple to diagnose. Simply lift the top of the tank off and look inside. If the water level is low, then you’ll need to replace the fill valve. This is another repair that you can do yourself at home, but if you’re unsure of how to handle any part of the repair, then call a plumber to help you.

You may need a pair of pliers to complete this repair and a new water valve from your local hardware store. Here is how to replace your water valve:

  • Shut off the water supply to the toilet from the individual valve
  • Flush the toilet after you’ve shut off the water to drain the bowl and the tank
  • Unscrew the water hose from the tank. You may need the pliers to twist it off
  • Remove the fill valve from the tank after you’ve removed the water hose. You can place these on a towel nearby to minimize the mess
  • Install the new valve. Simply replace it where the old water valve was. Screw it tightly into place by screwing the lock nut under the tank
  • Reattach the water supply hose. Again, you may need the pliers to make sure that the hose is firmly in place, to prevent leaks
  • Turn the water supply back on and do a test flush with the lid of the tank off, to check the level of the water supply

Clogged Inlet Holes

The inlet holes are small holes around the top of the toilet bowl that provide the water for the flush. Inlet holes can become clogged with hard water, so if you’re living in an area with hard water, you’ll need to watch for this in your bathrooms. If you notice that the water coming for the flush slows to a trickle, then you’ll have to unclog the holes.

To unclog your inlet holes yourself, you’ll need either a lime-removal cleaner or white vinegar.

  • Shut off the water supply and flush the remainder of the water from the tank
  • Open the water fill valve and pour the cleanser in. If you’re using vinegar to unclog the holes, heat it up first
  • Allow the cleanser to dissolve the clogs. Make sure that no one uses the toilet for a few hours while the cleanser is doing this job
  • Turn the water supply back on and observe the flush
  • If the water flow is still less than usual, then you may need to add cleanser a second time
  • If the cleanser isn’t working, you may need to manually unclog the holes using a slim wire hanger or another slender tool to remove the build-up

General Toilet Clogs

Some clogs simply happen from using too much toilet paper or flushing things down the toilet that shouldn’t be flushed, like condoms, cotton balls, or paper towels. It’s also highly recommended that feminine hygiene products are not flushed as they cause a lot of clogging and unwanted plumbing issues.

Most clogs can be removed with a plunger and a little elbow grease, but if the plunger doesn’t work, then it’s time to call your local plumber.

If you have problems with your toilet flushing and these DYI fixes don’t work, call your local bluefrog Plumbing + Drain today!

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