When your toilet doesn’t flush, it can be very frustrating. If you are trying to take care of it on your own, it can be even more frustrating if you don’t know what to look for or what action to take.
Rest assured, that this is one kind of bathroom plumbing problem that even the beginner handyman can tackle with success. It’s all about learning about a couple of things about how your toilet works and knowing when you need to call for backup from professionals.
When you Need Professional Plumbers
Speaking of calling in the pros, one situation in which you will most likely need a backup is if your toilet is clogged. If it is a small clog, you might be able to get rid of it yourself with a plunger. More substantial clogs need other tools for removal. A plumbing snake is a good way to break through clogs because its sharp tip rips apart debris.
Hydro-jetting also can help if the clog is further down in the pipes and is made up of something more substantial (i.e., a tree root intrusion). One note- if you have kids, make sure that they aren’t loading up the toilet with toilet paper. This is a common cause for clogs and is easily avoided.
Is it the Flapper?
When your toilet won’t flush, it may be because of the flapper. Over time, a flapper will break or warp because it is made of rubber. The flapper serves to open the water flow into the toilet bowl when you flush and then close the water supply when you are done. If the flapper doesn’t fit tightly over the opening, this won’t work, and your toilet won’t flush.
This is an easy bathroom plumbing job though. You simply remove the tank lid, drain it and place a new flapper (the flapper is at the bottom of the tank).
Instead of fiddling with the handle on a toilet that won’t flush, you can use a bucket instead. This low-tech trick takes advantage of gravity, the force of flowing water and the shape of the toilet bowl to flush it naturally. You simply fill a bucket with water (you need about a gallon for this to work). Pour it into the toilet and watch it flush all on its own.
This is a great way to reduce your water use at home as well. You can reuse water (i.e., the water you collect while waiting for the shower to heat up, or reserved liquid from cooking) and keep your water bills lower.