How to Flush a Toilet without Running Water (Step by Steps)

How to Flush a Toilet without Running Water

Last updated on July 25th, 2020 at 07:41 pm

There can be nothing more inconvenient and annoying than when you need to flush the toilet and realize that the water is off. It can put you into a rather embarrassing situation. If this is a temporary blockage of water supply, the toilet can be flushed manually for the time being. Here, we are going to provide you with an elaborate guide on how to flush the toilet when there is no running water. 

In first world countries like America or Canada, the incident of water being cut off rarely takes place. But if you are from a second or third world country, this may happen from time to time and put you in a bit of a messy situation. 


Mechanisms of a toilet:

Toilets are a piece of hardware available in every modern establishment. It is used to collect and drain human waste. The process of drainage is carried out by flushing the toilet. Tank or cistern is one of the most crucial parts of a toilet when it comes to flushing it. At the bottom of the tank, there is a part call stopper or flapper. With the help of the stopper, water reaches the basin of the toilet from the tanks, which necessarily contains the water used in flushing. Then from there on aided by the shape of the bowl and gravity, this water flushes down the waste. If the water is off, the tank will not have the required amount of water, and the flapper will not get plugged back in due to a lack of water pressure. Consequently, the flushing of the toilet cannot be carried out.

Mechanisms of a toilet

There are many other reasons why you might find it difficult to flush your toilet besides the water supply to your residence being temporarily off.

Why the Toilet Will Not Flush (5 Reasons)

Plumbing fails:

As we know, water for flushing toilets is stored in a specific part called a tank. A plug opens when you pull the flush lever, and water appears on the basin of the toilet. Due to malfunctions in the plumbing system, water may not reach the tank of the toilet, making the act of flushing anything down impossible.

Plumbing fails


Flushing becomes impossible if the pipes are clogged. Clogging of pipes mainly happens when anything other than tissue paper is mistakenly or intentionally flushed down.

pipe clogged

Switched of water valve:

If the water valve gets accidentally switched off, the level of water inside the tank may be lower than it needs to be. The toilet can be flushed without having to face complications only when the water level inside the tank of the toilet is just an inch below the tank’s overflow level. 

Malfunctioning lift chain:

To flush a toilet, we press the lever, and water is drained into the basin. It happens as the outer lever is connected to the inner flapper with a chain. As you rotate the lever, this chain raises the flapper and allows it to channel the water from the tank to the toilet bowl. It will be too tricky for the flapper to be raised if the chain is too slack.

Damaged flapper:

The flapper, as mentioned before, ensures that there is enough water in the tank. Being sealed to the flush valve opening, it can become bent or damaged over time. It can also cause you trouble while trying to flush.

Damaged flapper

These are some of the possible reasons why your toilet will not flush besides water and electricity off. Whatever the reason, maybe you cannot just avoid flushing. Besides being unhygienic, it can create an awkward situation. 

How to Flush a Toilet Manually:

 You can flush the toilet even with no running water or power. It can be termed as manual flushing of the toilet. Manual flushing can be appropriately executed by following several steps and wisely deciding on what to do at the moment of crisis. We have discussed below the measures you need to take and the ways you can move forward and manage the situation.

flush a toilet manually

Storage of water: 

Here, planning is essential. You can store water in your house. Keep a few buckets filled with water in the toilet at all times. It is a safety measure and should be done with all the bathrooms in your house to come in handy at odd times, like flushing the toilet when water is off. If there is a water crisis going on or there is an advance announcement concerning your residential area not having running water for a more extended period than usual, start reserving water. If you are not at home and just have dropped a big one, try and find stored water to flush it down. A few gallons of water is enough to flush a modern toilet.

Inspect the tank carefully:

The tank situated at the back of the toilet should have some water left in it even if there is no running water. So, when water is off, check if there is some water left in the tank. If you are not unfortunate, there will be some water there. When it comes to using this water, be smart and cautious. If water is scarce, maybe do not flush urine.

water left in the tank

Search for or purchase a large container:

If you are choosing a container such as a jar, a bucket, or a pot to store or collect water in, go for a larger yet lighter one. It should be able to contain a few gallons of water at a time. If it has a light amount of weight and has a handle, it will be easier to pick it up and use it for flushing. 

How and where to collect water from:

There are many sources from inside and outside the house from which you can collect water.

Inside the house:

  • If you have a swimming pool in your house, bring your buckets or pots to it and collect water from there.
  • If you handwash dishes or clothes or if you have taken a bath, the leftover water can use to flush the toilet.
home swimming pool

Outside the house:

  • As embarrassing as it may be, but when in need, you can ask your neighbor if they can spare you some amount of water. Having friendly neighbors does pay off sometimes.
  • If it rains a lot where you live, you can place a few containers outside while it is raining, and let them fille with rainwater.
  • You can seek out to collect water from other naturals resources nearby. It can be a pond, lake, river, or fountain.
  • Last resort will be to buy a few gallons of water, which is not necessarily costly. But it is still an expense you would not want to spend on. That being said, when it is required to buy jars of water, try to get the one that can contain 2-3 gallons of water. Anything less than that will not be able to create the amount of pressure required to flush the waste down.  
gallons of water

Check to clog status:

As we have discussed, you can fail to flush the toilet for several reasons, one of them being clogging. If it is clogged and you dump a whole bucket, and that will cause an overflow. So, pour some water into the toilet basin and see if the number of water increases. In the case of the unclogged toilet, the extra water you just poured should pass down to the sewage line allowing you to take the next step. 

Empty the bucket:

As soon as you realize the toilet is not clogged, take the following steps.

  • Firstly, fill up a bucket or pot with water up to its top.
  • Lift the lid of the toilet as well as the seat.
  • Now empty the whole bucket into the toilet bowl. It will flush down. 
  • Keep pouring water till there is nothing left.

Filling up the tank:

Unavailability of water supply or plumbing malfunctions can make the tank empty. So, as soon as you face trouble flushing, check the tank to see if it is full or not. If it is not (which indicates that someone has already used the toilet after the water supply being cut off), apply the following methods to fill up the tank manually, and the flush will start working again.

  • Pick one of the buckets.
  • Take off the lid or upper covering of the tank and start pouring water into it.
  • Keep pouring till the water level ends up being just one inch below the overflow tube.
  • Pull the lever to see if water comes down to the toilet bowl.
where to collect water infographic

Water is irreplaceable and inevitable in our lives, especially to use the toilet hygienically. So, the lack of water in the toilet can put us in an odd and embarrassing situation. It is also harmful to health. But every problem has a solution. What to do when the water is off? How can I flush a toilet without running water? These may have been your thoughts or inquiries when you clicked on this article. I hope we have been successful in solving your problem.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *