How To Fix Toilet Won’t Flush & It’s Not Clogged

For things we use daily, toilets can be very temperamental and hard to understand if you don’t know how they work. One common issue many people come across is that their toilet suddenly doesn’t want to flush anymore. This problem is especially tricky to solve if it is not related to a clog, which is why we will explain why your toilet might not flush and how to fix it.

If your toilet isn’t clogged but won’t flush, you likely need to check the tank’s water level, replace the rubber flapper on the flush mechanism, or replace the part that lifts the flapper. These are not the only possible issues, and you might even need help to replace or change the drainpipe.

Though there are many reasons why your toilet might not want to flush, you don’t need to expect the worst. More likely than not, the issue is only minor and will take a few minutes to fix with minimal funds required. However, just because the problem is small does not mean that you can fix it blindly. It is best to check for the most likely causes and try to fix them before calling a plumber for assistance.

Likely Reasons Your Toilet Won’t Flush And How To Fix It

Naturally, the most common reason your toilet won’t flush is due to clogging. However, if that is not a factor, there are some other common issues that you might be able to solve. Keep in mind that there are different flush mechanisms for separate toilets, and though most work similarly, some can be tricky to understand and fix without the help of a plumber. Here’s how to fix the most common issues:

low water level toilet tank
Image from Smithys Plumbing

Toilet Won’t Flush Due To Low Water Level

One of the most commonly found issues you need to consider when your toilet won’t flush is the tank’s water level. If the water level is too low down, there will be too little pressure to force the old water out of the bowl through the drainpipe.

Luckily, checking the water level of your toilet’s tank is a simple process, and the solution can be just as straightforward. To check the water level of your toilet tank, simply remove the lid of the tank. You should be capable of seeing the water level when it stops filling up. The water level should usually stop just below the height of the overflow pipe. If the level is lower, you need to adjust the float.

The way you adjust your toilet float depends on the kind it uses. If the float is a ball shape, you can attempt to bend the arm keeping it in place slightly upwards. However, if the float is not a ball, there should be an adjustment screw that you can turn to lessen the space between the arm and the float itself. This adjustment should allow the tank to fill with more water before closing the valve.

Faulty Rubber Flapper Causes Flushing Problems

If your toilet is not new, it is very likely that your toilet’s seal, or flapper as some call it, is old and unable to work as it should. The flapper usually consists of rubber or plastic that can harden or crack after extended use, meaning water can leak through and prevent your toilet from flushing correctly. There might also be a problem with the arm that lifts the flapper seal.

If your toilet’s flapper seal is old and broken, replacing it should allow the water to build up as it should and will enable you to flush normally again. However, if the seal is fine, the problem might be that the arm that raises it isn’t attached anymore or has broken. Press the flush lever or button and see if the flapper seal lifts to see if the lifter is the problem.

If the flapper lift is the problem, you can either reattach it if you know how, ask for help from somebody who does, or buy a new lifter and install it.

cleaning toilet water jets

The Toilet’s Water Jets Prevent It From Flushing

Though this problem is less common, it is still common enough to need investigation. If your toilet seems to work as expected, but the water does not flow into the bowl quickly but slowly instead, you might have a problem with the water jets.

The water jets are the holes around the inside rim of the toilet bowl that allow water to flow into the bowl and push the old water and other gunk into the drainpipe. If your jets haven’t received a cleaning in a while, some mineral build-up may keep the water from flowing through them properly. In this scenario, water will still pour, but it might be too slow to create the pressure needed for a regular flush.

If this is the situation, you should use a stiff brush and toilet cleaner to clean the rim of the toilet from inside the bowl. This process might not seem appealing to you, so feel free to call a professional, but be prepared to pay.

Other Reasons Your Toilet Isn’t Flushing

Though some common issues may result in your toilet not flushing as expected, there are also other issues that you should consider. Some of these can be expensive either in time or money, so we hope these aren’t the problem.

Problematic Drainpipe Stops From Toilet Flushing

If your toilet is new and does not want to flush as it should, it is, unfortunately, possible that the drainpipe set-up might be the culprit. A wrongly installed drainpipe might not allow enough pressure to build up, and the water might not run through as intended, causing it to drain slowly and leaving the gunk behind. The best way to diagnose and fix this is with the help of a plumber.

Toilet Overflow Pipe Causes Flushing Problems

In addition to the other problems mentioned above, you might also have a faulty or broken overflow pipe. If the line is cracked, broken, or too short, water will be able to flow through without letting the tank fill first. This issue, again, means that there will not be enough pressure to push the water and bowl contents down the drainpipe.


Unfortunately, there are quite a few reasons why your toilet might not be flushing, even if it isn’t clogged. However, most of the issues are easy to find and fix, and you can do most of them yourself. If the issue is more serious, I recommend asking for help from a professional to ensure that your toilet remains undamaged and to ensure these problems will not occur again.

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