Toilet Flushing Troubleshooting

Most flushing problems can be resolved in less than 30 minutes.
Most flushing problems can be resolved in less than 30 minutes. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Although a standard toilet features a fairly basic design, periodic toilet problems are inevitable. Fortunately, a flushing problem substantially narrows down the number of potential problems. If the toilet will not flush, the problem is probably a broken lift wire or a water supply valve that was inadvertently left off. If the toilet flushes slowly or if it overflows, the problem is probably a clog within the toilet or within the structure’s main plumbing line.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver or pliers
  • Replacement lift wire or chain (optional)
  • Plunger
  • Closet auger

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Toilet Will Not Flush

Rotate the water supply valve located against the wall and behind the toilet in a counterclockwise direction to ensure that the toilet is receiving a supply of water.

Lift the lid off of the toilet’s tank to expose the lift wire. Some toilets are equipped with a chain rather than with a wire.

Replace the lift wire or chain if it is broken. Each end of the wire is secured with a screw or clip. Remove the fastener with a screwdriver or with pliers to release the wire.

Toilet Overflows or Flushes Slowly

Fill the toilet with a few inches of water if the bowl is empty.

Plunge the toilet with a plunger to clear most toilet clogs.

Insert a closet auger into the drain opening within the bottom of the bowl if the drain is still clogged. The auger features a flexible metal bar that will conform to the drain pipe. Push the auger into the drain opening to clear the drain passageways.

Contact a professional plumber if the problem persists, as the problem is most likely not with the toilet.


  • “Ten Pound Books: Home Repair Guide”; Creative Publishing International; 2007
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