How to Fix a Toilet that Won’t Flush

You’ve done your work here. Time to go and wash your hands… wait a minute. You pull the flush handle but nothing happens! Oh no! Luckily for you, the job is way simpler than it seems!

The toilet flushing mechanism is extremely simple. So simple that there are usually only two problems that will keep the water from gushing into the bowl and doing its job.

Check the Handle: if the handle is floppy, and doesn’t seem to work, it’s because it has become disconnected.

Lift the lid from the toilet tank and set it down carefully – it’s most likely made of porcelain, and can break if you drop it.

Inside the tank, you can see that the handle is connected to a rod. There’s supposed to be a chain that connects the rod to the flapper valve at the bottom of the tank.

If the chain is still connected to the rod, it may have come off from the flapper valve. In that case, you’ll need to go to your local Home Improvement Center and pick up a replacement flapper valve. It shouldn’t cost you more than $20. The instructions that come with the new flapper valve will be easy to follow.

More likely is that the chain has come off of the rod. Reach down into the water and lift the chain. You’ll find that it’s still connected to the flapper valve.

NOTE: the water will be cool and clear because it’s NOT dirty. It has come straight from the same supply you use for drinking. It doesn’t get dirty until after the flush. But you probably shouldn’t drink it from the tank…

Reconnect the chain to the rod. If the chain’s too short, use a paper clip to connect it.

The chain should be just long enough to let the handle return to its resting position, but without slack. When push the handle, it pulls the chain which lifts the flapper and lets the water out to do its dirty deed.

If you can connect the chain again, you should visit your local Home Improvement Store at the soonest opportunity to pick up a flushing kit. It will have a new handle, a new rod, a new flapper valve, and, most importantly, a new chain. Again, it will be about twenty bucks.

Check the Water Supply: if you check the handle and it’s not floppy, there may not be any water in the tank. This can happen if the water supply is turned off.

Again, lift the lid from the tank and set it aside carefully. The tank should be full of water.

If it’s not, look underneath the toilet to where it’s connected to the wall. You’ll see a small valve there. The valve should be open. Here’s a way to tell at a glance if it’s open. If it’s not, turn it clockwise until you hear water rush into the tank.

If the valve won’t turn, there’s a problem with your plumbing that requires a professional. Likewise, if you turn the valve but no water rushes, you will need to call a professional.

That’s it. Once you’ve restored the glorious flushing action, you can put the lid back onto the tank.

Please Note: Do not use this procedure if you are not certain that you can complete it safely, or if it does not seem accurate. Skippity Whistles provides this information as advice, and cannot accept any liability from your usage of it.


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Published by John D Reinhart

Author, technical writer, videographer, actor, and naval historian John D Reinhart is a very busy guy. You can find his novels as

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