Toilet Swirls but Won’t Flush: Causes and Fixes

If your toilet doesn’t flush, it can be a real pain. You may not know what is causing the problem, or how to fix it. In this blog post, I will discuss the causes of a toilet that won’t flush, and provide some solutions to get your bathroom back in order!

If your toilet swirls but won’t flush, there are a few things you can try. First, check to see if the water level in the tank is low. If it is, adjust the ball float. Second, check for any blockages in the jet holes around the bowl. If there are any, clear them with a wire. Third, try using a toilet plunger to clear any blockage in the bowl. If none of these solutions work, you will need to call a professional.

Read on to learn five reasons why doesn’t your toilet flush properly, and solutions to fix this problem.

Understanding How a Toilet Flushes Water

A typical toilet has a water-filled bowl that is connected to a sewer line. When you flush the handle, a chain lifts the flapper valve and allows water to flow from the tank into the bowl. The water enters the bowl through jet holes along the periphery(rim) of the bowl.  This causes the water to swirl around the bowl, which helps to move waste material down the drain and into the sewer.

5 Reasons why a Toilet Swirls but Won’t Flush

In normal circumstances, as soon as you push the flush button, the water enters the bowl, swirls around, and drains the waste. However, there are instances when the bowl water swirls but won’t flush. This can be due to a number of reasons, five of which are listed below:

#1 Ball Float is not Adjusted Properly (Low Water Level)

If you have ever looked inside the toilet tank, you would have seen a ball float. Different toilets have these floats in different styles, however, their main function is the same.  The purpose of the ball float is to ensure that there is enough water in the tank. When the water level gets to a certain point, it further stops the flow of water into it.

If the ball float is not adjusted properly, it can result in a low water level. When this happens, less water enters the bowl, which doesn’t have sufficient power to flush the waste into the drain.

#2 Worn-out Flapper

The flapper is the rubber seal that covers the hole at the bottom of the tank. When you flush the toilet handle, the flapper lifts up and allows water to flow into the bowl.

If the flapper is worn out, it might not open fully or might close too soon. This would again result in less water flowing into the bowl-resulting in an incomplete flush.

#3 Blockage in the Jet Holes

The jet holes are located around the rim of the toilet bowl. They help to create a swirling action when water enters the bowl, which helps move waste down the drain. If these jet holes are blocked due to mineral buildup, it can cause the water to swirl but not flush properly.

#3 Problems within Flushing Mechanism

There are different types of toilets, and each one has a different flushing mechanism. Normally, the flush lever is connected to a chain, which lifts the flapper and water enters into the bowl. If any of the components of this flushing mechanism are out of order, the toilet doesn’t flush properly.

For example, if the chain is loose, it can result in an incomplete flush. If the flapper is not closing properly, it might also cause water to constantly enter the bowl without fully flushing.

#5 Clogged Sewer Line

In some cases, the problem is not with your toilet, but with the sewer line. In that case, again you will see a similar kind of symptom. The flushed water swirls around the bowl but won’t go down. This is because there is already waste material clogging up the sewer line, and new waste has nowhere to go.

How to Fix a Toilet That won’t Flush?

Now that we have discussed some reasons why your toilet may not be flushing properly, let’s look at some solutions.

#1 Adjust the Ball Float

If you open up your tank and see the water level isn’t rising to the defined point, then the problem is with the ball float. The first thing you need to do is to adjust it. To do this, you will need to turn the knob or screw that is present on the ball float.

Turn it in the clockwise direction to raise the water level and counterclockwise to lower it. If a lever-ball mechanism is attached you can bend the lever up and down to adjust the ball float’s position.

Once you have adjusted it, close the tank and check if the problem has been fixed. If not, then you need to look at other solutions mentioned below.

Fix #2 Inspect and Replace Damaged Components inside the Tank

If the problem is not within your tank, check other components inside the tank.  These include the flushing mechanism and other parts that might have been damaged.

For example, if the flapper is not closing correctly, water will constantly enter the bowl without fully flushing. In such a case, you need to clean or replace the flapper.

If the flush lever is loose, it can also cause problems. In that case, you need to tighten it so that it works properly.

Fix #3 Clear Blockages from Jet Holes

If the jet holes around your bowl are blocked, then you need to clear them.  To do that, fill in the bowl with a chemical cleaner and let it stay. Then, take a small wire and insert it into the jet hole and clear any debris that might be blocking it.

Fix 4: Use a Toilet Plunger

If the toilet is still not flushing properly, there are chances that it has been clogged. To clear the obstruction, you can try using a toilet plunger.

First, put on rubber gloves to avoid coming in contact with any waste material. Then place the plunger over the hole at the bottom of the bowl and plunge it up and down.

Do this several times until the clog is cleared and the water starts flowing through smoothly.

Fix #5: Call a Professional

If none of the solutions mentioned above work, then you will need to get your toilet inspected by a professional. He will thoroughly run some tests and provide a solution to your problem.


Finally, before concluding, I want to answer the most asked queries related to the flushing of toilets.

What should I do if my toilet flushes but won’t stop running?

If your toilet flushes but won’t stop running, the problem is likely with the float ball. The float ball is responsible for stopping the flow of water into the tank once it reaches a certain level. If the float ball is not working properly, water will continue to flow into the tank and cause it to overflow. To fix this, you will need to adjust the float ball.

What if my toilet flushes but the bowl doesn’t empty?

If your toilet flushes but the bowl doesn’t empty, there is probably a clog in the drain line. To fix this, you will need to remove the clog. This can be done by using a plunger or a plumber’s snake.

My toilet flushes but the water are dirty. What could be the problem?

If the water in your toilet bowl is dirty, it could be due to a clog in the sewer line. This can happen if there is too much waste buildup in the line. To fix this, you will need to clear the clog with a plunger or auger.

Final Words

If your toilet is swirling but won’t flush, don’t panic; it happens to a lot homeowners, In most cases, the problem can be fixed with a simple adjustment or by clearing a clog. However, if the problem persists, it is best to call a professional for help.

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