Home Plumbing Maintenance: 3 Common Reasons Why A Toilet May Not Flush Properly

Home Plumbing Maintenance

Toilets, at times, fail to flush unexpectedly. They often fail when you least expect them.It’s easy to figure out when the toilet is completely clogged. However, not all toilet problems are easy to tell.

Sometimes, the toilet may have a weak flush, or you have to keep trying several times for it to flush.You should act right away rather than waiting for the problem to worsen.

Here are some reasons why toilets fail to work properly and the possible solutions.

  1. Lack of Water for Flushing in the Toilet Tank

How does it weaken the flush?

When flushing the toilet, you’re simply letting water to flow from the toilet tank into the bowl. A huge volume of water is usually released quickly to generate enough suction to flush your toilet.

In case the tank lacks enough water, then it won’t release the amount of water needed to flush your toilet. As such, the flush will be weak or water may flow without flushing.

Fixing the problem

Most toilet models have a mark within the tank that indicates the amount of water that should be stored for a normal flush. You can check this mark and ensure the tank is filled up to this mark after flushing.

In case your toilet doesn’t have such a mark, then ensure the tank gets filled up to an inch beneath its overflow tube. If water doesn’t fill up to the normal level as per the mark, then you’ll need to adjust the filling mechanism.

Different toilet models use different mechanisms to set the water level in the tank. Most mechanisms use a float or some other kind of water intake mechanism. Most floats are in the form of round balls that are connected to a fill valve.

The float rises as the water level rises and stops the valve from filling the toilet tank with more water once the water rises to the set level. You can adjust the level of the float using a screw or bending the arm of the float depending on how your float works.

If the level is regulated by some other water intake mechanism, check for a clip that comes with the assembly and move it upwards to adjust the toilet tank water level. Doing so will ensure water fills up to the appropriate level for a normal flush.

Also Read: The advantages of regular plumbing maintenance at home

  1. The Lift Chain or Flapper has Malfunctioned

How does this problem weaken a flush?

A toilet flapper is a rubber cup fixture found at the lower part of a toilet tank. The role of the flapper is to cover the drain connecting the tank and the bowl. A lift chain is usually attached at the top section of the toilet flapper from one end.

The other end of the chain is connected to a metallic arm. The metallic arm is then attached to the flushing handle. Upon pulling the flushing handle, the metallic arm rises and pulls the chain. The chain then lifts the toilet flapper to release water.

Upon flushing the toilet, the entire flushing mechanism lifts the flapper and allows water to flow smoothly into the bowl. The height to which the toilet flapper rises or how long it opens up is determined by the lift chain.

In case the toilet flapper is loose or damaged, then it may leak water from the tank to the bowl. If the lift chain is loose or damaged, then the flapper will fail to open properly. In case either the chain or flapper is malfunctioning, then it’ll lead to problems with your toilet, including a weak flush.

 Fixing a Malfunctioning Flapper

If the flapper is malfunctioning, the best remedy is replacing it. The toilet flapper mechanism is affordable. Replacing it is also easy. First, you’ll remove the malfunctioning flapper. Next shut off the water valve on the supply tube that feeds the toilet tank.

Empty the toilet tank by flushing it. Then unhook the chain connected to the flapper from the metallic arm. Next, detach the flapper. You should carry the old flapper when shopping for a replacement to get a matching size.

The new flapper should have instructions for installation. Some flappers work differently. Thus, follow the manufacturer instructions when installing. Once you install the flapper in place, ensure it is snug.

Test it to ensure it is closing properly by pouring some water into the toilet tank. If the water doesn’t leak into the bowl, then the flapper is working properly.

Then attach the chain in place. Ensure the chain is relaxed. It shouldn’t be too loose or too taut. Test the new flapper severally before turning on the toilet water shut off valve.

  1. The Toilet is Clogged

How does itcause a weak toilet flush?

If your toilet is clogged, then it’ll most probably cause a weak toilet flush. Waste material can form some partial clogs within the toilet pipes. Even though such clogs may not stop the water flow, they might make it slow.

Partial clogs within the toilet pipes block the flush water from flowing smoothly. If the flush water is forced to work harder to go through the clog, then the flush water will have less strength.

These clogs can also lead to incomplete flushes. In worst cases, the flush water may go back into the bowl after flushing.You may be interested in reading this DIY guide on how to unblock a toilet.

 Fixing a weak toilet flush

Once you notice that your toilet is having a weak flush, you can try plunging it to clear the clog. You’ll need the flange type of plunger to do this. Plunge it for 10-15 seconds. Once done, try flushing it again.

Check whether there’s any improvement. Plunge again for 2 to 3 times if need be. However, don’t plunge the toilet too hard. In case the problem persists after plunging thrice, then try another solution.

Some partial clogs are quite stubborn. If a clog is caked onto the piping walls or it results from corrosion, then it can be very stubborn. You can try to fix the problem by first turning off the toilet water shut off valve.

Then flush the toilet. Next, add hot water (not boiling) into the bowl. Allow the water to settle for some minutes. Once done, flush the toilet and see whether it flushes smoothly. If not, then consider using a plumber’s snake to unclog the toilet.

If the problem persists, then the clog might be sitting deeper within the toilet drain pipes. In such situations, you’ll need to get assistance from a professional.


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