How To Manually Flush a Toilet. Your 2023 DIY Guide.

how to manually flush a toilet

How to Manually Flush a Toilet When You Need It The Most!

The modern-day toilet is an amazing invention. The first version of the toilet was invented during the 16th century, which was the start of modern sanitation in Europe.

It gets taken for granted every day by billions of people. But what happens when it stops working correctly?

There’s nothing worse to your morning routine when you’re getting ready for the day ahead to finish your morning business only to find you can’t flush it away.

A toilet that’s not working can cause much morning frustration and can be the cause of some really unpleasant smells.

So if your toilet won’t flush, its probably because of these common plumbing problems:

  • Toilet is clogged
  • The water level in the toilet tank is too low
  • The toilet flapper is leaking
  • The lift chain is disconnected

Early mornings are generally not the best time for you to try to spend a few hours DIYing a fix or waiting for that plumber that says they will be at your home between 8 am and 6 pm.

So what do you do? The good news is that you can flush your toilet manually.

It’s pretty easy, even if your home’s water supply has been shut off.

Check out the three ways how to flush the toilet manually.

⭐ The Three Manual Flushing Methods

🚽 Pour Water Into the Toilet Tank

removing toilet tank cover

A few moving parts make your toilet work, nearly all of them in the toilet top tank.

So if your toilet isn’t flushing, it’s because there’s a problem with the toilet tank.

To manually flush your toilet at this point is very easy. Here are the steps:

  • Find yourself a bucket of water and fill it with a gallon or two of water.
  • Remove the toilet tank lid.
  • Pour the water into the toilet tank until it reaches the water line. It should be obvious after years of use, the water line would have stained the inside of the toilet tank.
  • Try to flush your toilet the traditional way via the flush handle.

If this doesn’t work, move on to the next step.

🚽 Pull up the Rubber Flapper in the Toilet Tank

Flapper valve in toilet top tank

The rubber flapper controls water flow from the top tank to the toilet bowl.

If trying to flush the toilet properly and it doesn’t work, it probably means the lift chain is broken, or the toilet rubber flapper needs replacing.

But before putting on your DIY plumber hat, here’s how to manually flush that stinky toilet.

The toilet top tank must be full of water for this to work.

No water? Go back to step one.

  • Remove the toilet tank cover.
  • Check for a broken chain. If it’s disconnected, grab the loose end, reconnect it to the flush handle arm, and try to flush your toilet again.
  • If this doesn’t work, check to see if the flapper forms a tight seal over the opening at the bottom of the tank. If not, try to reseat the flapper to its correct position. The top tank should start to refill at this point if you have a running water supply to the tank.
  • If the water doesn’t refill the top tank, check the chain connection to the rubber flapper. Reconnect it if it has become detached.
  • If the toilet fails to flush at this point, ensure the toilet tank is full of water and manually lift up the rubber flapper.

PRO TIP: The water in your top tank isn’t clean, so ensure you stay clean by wearing arm-length gloves or thoroughly washing your arm and hand after dipping it in the water tank.

If the problem persists, it’s more than likely a more serious issue that requires the attention of a professional plumber. Time to make a phone call!

🚽 Use a Bucket or Hose to Pour Water Into the Toilet Bowl

filling a toilet bowl with water

If none of the above fixes your smelly problem, it’s time to resort to the last and final way to manually flushing your toilet.

The age of your toilet will dictate how much water you need.

Newer toilets only require a gallon or two (that is, four to eight liters for our metric friends).

Older toilets can take up to 5 gallons (that’s a whole bucket) to get that waste moving.

Can you flush poop with a bucket of water? Yes, you can!

Here are the steps to manually flush when all else fails.

  • Again, get your bucket and fill it with the required amount (or find a garden hose that reaches)
  • Start by pouring water into the bowl slowly and increase the speed as you go.
  • The pressure of the water should overcome the water pressure made by the p trap and force the water and the waste in the toilet bowl into the drain pipe.

If this doesn’t work and the water in the bowl starts to rise, you have a serious plumbing problem. Time to make that phone call!

PRO TIP: Pouring water slowly will help in reducing any splash. The last thing you need is to splash any waste onto the bathroom floor.

⭐ Final Thoughts on Manually Flushing a Toilet.

dual flush toilet

The ways to manually flush a toilet can get you out of a pickle but are no substitute for a proper fix.

If you are uncomfortable at any time, it’s best to call in the professionals.

Not all toilets are equal, and many are designed differently from the standard design we have used as a reference for this guide.

Toilets like dual flush toilets have a different system for how they flush.

They use flush buttons instead of the traditional flush handle.

So the setup for the handle arm may require a slightly different fix.

Anyone that grew up in a country like the Soviet Union may have been subject to water restrictions at certain times of the day and are experts at flushing toilets without a water supply.

They would fill their bathtub during those hours with water access and would employ the top tank filling method.

So if they can do it, so can you!

If your toilet is only partially flushing, check out the following article: Toilet Not Flushing All The Way? Your DIY Fix It Guide

Related Reading: Toilet Filling Slowly? Your DIY Quick Fix It Guide.

⭐ Call Phyxter Home Services

Phyxter Approved Logo on Service Truck

If you have done all of the above and tried to fix it yourself but still haven’t solved the problem, it’s time to call and book an appointment with your local plumber.

Check out Phyxter Plumbing Services and see if we have a local and independent plumber in your area.

Phyxter Plumbers are experienced in all plumbing issues and can get your home working in tip-top condition in no time at an affordable price.

Related Reading: DIY Guide to 15 Common Plumbing Problems & Solutions

Russell Jones

VP of Operations @ Phyxter and Home Improvement Specialist

About our blog

Phyxter (pronounced Fix-ter) is a national home services brand specializing in Residential HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing solutions.

Phyxter is laser-focused on writing the best articles and guides to empower homeowners to get the best out of their homes.

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