Why My Toilet Won’t Flush All the Way?

Have you ever come across a situation where you are finished with your business in the restroom and are about to flush your toilet, but you are unable to do so? The fact that your toilet won’t flush down is actually one of the most horrible plumbing issues you could experience. Let me now explain why this occurs.

If your toilet won’t flush all the way, it’s mostly due to a clog in the trap. However, there may be further causes, such as a damaged valve, blocked rim jets, an incorrectly positioned float, or even a problem with the handle and chain. You need to analyze the condition of your toilet flush and narrow down possible problems. 

If you are facing the same problem in your life, you have definitely landed on the right page.

This how-to guide will discuss the reasons why your toilet won’t flush all the way and its fixes. Let’s dive deep into the nitty-gritty of the topic and learn to calmly handle such problems in the future. 

7 Reasons Why Your Toilet Won’t Flush All the Way

If you are struggling with a malfunctioning toilet where the flush doesn’t work all the way, there can be multiple reasons for this situation. From clogged drain pipes, low water flow, and unadjusted refill valves to build-up residue in pipes, the causes of this plumbing issue tend to be quite diverse. 

Let’s discuss them one by one:

#1 Clogged Drain Pipes

a woman unclogging the toilet bowl

Clogged toilets are one of the common reasons for a toilet that doesn’t flush properly. These clogs have different intensities, depending on the parent material behind this problem. 

This is caused by an excess of toilet paper in the toilet bowl, or your kid would have left a toy for swimming which has caused a partial enclosure problem. Other materials like cotton balls, wipes, and paper towels can also be the reason for this malfunctioning. 

#2 Low Water Pressure/Flow

If you have an outdated toilet that has a low-flow mechanism, the reason behind your inconvenience is that your toilet is not designed to provide the flush you require. 

#3 Unadjusted Refill Valves

One of the reasons for your toilet to not flush all the way can be the low water level in your toilet tank. 

When the water level in your toilet tank reaches a certain level, the float in your tank’s fill valve does its job of closing off the fill valve. When the refill valve’s shut-off level is set too low, it is unable to successfully flush everything down. 

loose float ball could be the reason why the water level in toilet bowl keeps dropping
Image from Military Plumbing

If the float is not properly adjusted, your tank will remain underfilled, resulting in poor flushing.

#4 Buildup Residue in Inlet Holes

Most of the time, people do not focus on cleaning inlet holes. These are the tiny openings around the underside of the toilet bowl’s rim from which the tank’s water flows.

Clogged inlet holes can cause plumbing problems like improper functioning of a toilet flush because the water will then drain slowly into the toilet bowl.

The holes get clogged by the minerals, debris, and bacteria which disrupt the water entering the toilet bowl. 

Here are a few indicators that your inlet holes are clogged:

  1. When you flush your tank, it drains slowly.
  2. Instead of flowing diagonally into the bowl, water enters it directly from the rim.
  3. When you flush, you can see areas in the bowl where no water is flowing at all.

#5 Flappers That Aren’t Completely Sealed

Flappers are found at the bottom of the toilet tank and they can cause your toilet to not flush properly if they are not sealed completely.

damaged flapper valve can be the cause of dropping of water level in the toilet bowl
Image from Total Home Care Maintenance & Repairs

If you notice your toilet running even when the flapper should be closed and the water should not be running, it means there is no water left in the tank at the time of your flush, resulting in an improper flushing system.

#6 Damaged Overflow Tube

If the overflow tube in your tank has cracks on it or is damaged, it will constantly drain water into the toilet bowl, leaving less water in the tank.

Hence, as you flush your toilet, it won’t flush all the way due to the low water level in the tank.

#7 Issue With Handle and Chain

Issues with handle and chain can also cause the entire mechanism to stop working properly. 

toilet flapper with chain

The chain connects the flapper to the handle. As a result, it is critical that the chain is not unclipped or set to an incorrect length.

When you press the handle, the chain pulls up the flapper, causing a flush to occur. Thus, if the handle is not tight enough or the chain is not properly set, flushing problems may arise.

Is It a Dangerous Sign if Your Toilet Doesn’t Flush All the Way?

It is not dangerous if your toilet doesn’t flush all the way. However, it still disrupts your day-to-day life. Hence, it is better to narrow down the cause of your problem. If your toilet doesn’t flush all the way, you might want to refer to a professional since it may be an alarming situation.

At times the problem is as simple as a clogged pipeline which can be easily cleared out with home remedies, but there are situations when the problem is big and you need to refer to a professional who can look into this matter and solve your problem. 

An example of one of these issues can be broader plumbing problems like incorrect installation of the toilet or drain pipe or a sewer line blockage. 

What to Do When Your Toilet Doesn’t Flush at All?

Here are some tips to fix your toilet if it doesn’t flush at all:

  • Check your tank first; if it fills up normally but you still have trouble flushing, there may be a clog causing the problem. Otherwise, there may be other problems that you can easily solve using different techniques for different problems.
  • Starting with a clogged toilet or pipes, you can use a flange-style toilet plunger that seals the toilet bowl. Use it to loosen the material or particles stuck inside. If the flush improves, try doing it twice or thrice to completely solve the problem. 
  • To solve your outdated low-flow toilet, the simple solution is to change the toilet. This is because, until and unless you don’t change it, you would come back facing the same issues. 
  • With an unadjusted refill valve, you just need to adjust the float by screwing it to a higher or maximum level. 
  • For fixing the clogged inlet holes, you might have to work with a scrub, brush, or any similar tool to clean the buildup in the holes for a proper and undisturbed flush.

How to Improve Toilet Flush Power?

After solving the flushing problem of your toilet, you might never want to experience it again. For this, you can take some precautionary measures like cleaning the toilet on a daily basis, having a detailed inspection of your flush at least every six months, and much more. 

Some of the precautionary measures include:

  1. Regularly clean your toilets with a mild cleaner.
  2. Perform a detailed inspection of your toilet, flush, and pipelines every three-six months. 
  3. Educate your children on safe and proper ways of dealing with and taking care of a toilet.
  4. Do not flush anything except human waste and toilet paper

I have written a separate article on How to Fix a Slow Flushing Toilet — Check it out!


At times the problem is totally out of control. Avoid handling these situations yourself and consult a plumber who can take care of the problem and handle it carefully. 

Because if you intervene in such a condition, you might cause irreversible damage to your toilet and the whole infrastructure.

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