We’ve all experienced that moment when it’s time to flush the toilet and nothing happens. Panic starts to set in. What do you do? Besides checking for a clog, the reason for the toilet not flushing could be that the water level in the tank is too low, the chain isn’t working correctly, the flapper is bent or warped, the inlet holes are blocked or the drain pipe is poorly designed. Here are the top five reasons why your toilet won’t flush and how to fix them.

1. Clogged Toilet or Drain

The number one cause for a clogged toilet is using too much toilet paper or trying to flush anything besides toilet paper. Sanitary napkins are also a big culprit. Depending on where the clog is and how severe it is will determine if you can remove it yourself or will need the help of a professional.


First, try to unclog the toilet yourself with a plunger. For stubborn clogs, try an auger. Also known as a snake. It will help you unclog those hard to reach areas of the toilet by either pulling out the clog or pushing it through. If the toilet still doesn’t flush, there may be a clog in the toilet drain and it will require the help of a plumber.


2. Low Water Level in the Tank

To be able to have a significant flush, the toilet needs a lot of water delivered quickly. The water level inside the toilet tank should be about one inch below the top of the overflow tube. Sometimes people adjust the levels to save water and other times, the components in the tank may need adjusting.


Inside the tank, you will see either a rubber ball or a floating cup ballcock. These two items float up or down as the water rises and lowers. As the float rises, it closes off the water flow into the tank. If you have a rubber ball, you can bend the arm upward to allow more water into the tank. The floating cup ballcock will have an adjustment screw on the top of the fill valve.


3. Lift Chain Not Working

The lift chain is what is attached to the flushing handle on the outside of the toilet. When the toilet is flushed, the chain lifts the rubber flapper at the bottom of the tank and allows water to flow into the bowl. If the chain is too long, there will be too much slack and the flapper will not lift.


Simply adjust the length of the chain so that it provides enough pull to raise the flapper.


4. Bent or Warped Flapper

The rubber flapper is what the chain lifts open to allow water to flow and is located at the bottom of the tank. Sometimes a flapper can become deteriorated, warped, bent or not aligned correctly over the hole and then doesn’t provide the right amount of water needed for a flush.


Check the condition of the flapper and if it’s needed, replace it. First, turn off the water supply to the toilet and empty any water inside the tank. Next, pop off the rubber flapper and take it with you to a hardware store. Find one made by the same manufacturer or one that is similar. Once replaced, try flushing the toilet to ensure the problem is resolved.


5. Clogged Inlet Holes

The toilet’s inlet holes are located just under the lip of the bowl. They allow water to pour in when flushed. If clogged, the right amount of water won’t get into the bowl for a proper flush. The holes become clogged with bacteria and mineral deposits.


Heat 10-12 ounces of white vinegar to about 120 degrees. Pour the solution down the overflow tube inside the tank and let it sit for an hour without flushing. Next, use a thin wire to clear out the holes. This is a common problem, especially if you have hard water, and the inlet holes will have to be checked periodically.


If these solutions don’t give you a better flush, you will need to call a professional plumber to inspect the system. Call the experts at Reddi Plumbing at (316) 847-4277 for a consultation.

Resources found on our website are provided as general guidelines, and Reddi Industries does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.

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Why Is There a Sewer Smell In My Basement?
Man with disgusted look on his face from a sewer smell coming from his basement.A strong sewer smell coming from your basement is most often caused from a dried out floor drain, a bad ejector pit seal, improperly vented appliances or fixtures, or even a damaged sewer line.

Floor Drains – Rarely-used floor drains in your basement are typically the source of the sewer stench. These drains are designed with a trap to hold a small amount of water in order to seal the pipe so sewer gases don’t escape into the home. Over time, that seal can open as the drain dries up (condensation, etc.) from little use, releasing sewer gas into the basement and stinking the place up.

Solution: Dump around a gallon of clean water down the drain to reseal the pipe and keep the odor out of your basement (add a mild household cleaner to the water for a fresh scent).

Note: This applies to rarely-used toilets, as well. If the water in a toilet bowl has dried up, simply flush the toilet again.

Most floor drains also include a cleanout plug inside that sometimes doesn’t get replaced. Without this plug, sewer gas has a direct path into your basement.

Solution: Remove the grate on the drain opening and see if the plug is missing. New plugs can be purchased at about any hardware store.

Ejector Pit & Pump – If your home has an overhead sewer line in the basement, the ejector pit is required to be sealed with a cover and properly vented to contain the waste water. A missing lid, bad seal, or broken/clogged vent will quickly overwhelm your basement with sewer gas.

Solution: Make sure your ejector pit (if you have one) has a properly fitted lid with a good seal. Inspect the waste discharge pipe and vent pipe for any cracks or obstructions. Replace any components as needed to contain the sewer smell.

Vents – Sometimes basement fixtures and appliances don’t get properly vented, preventing sewer gases from exiting the home.

Solution: Confirm that laundry rooms and bathrooms are vented correctly and actually tied in with the rest of the home. This applies to the whole home – sometimes smells originating on a main or upper level can make it to the basement.

Sewer Line – The sewage smell you’re experiencing could be a result of the sewer line being damaged. If this is the case and the leak is close enough to your home, the waste water would leak into the ground and make its way to the sump pit in your basement.

Solution: This is best handled by professionals. The most common troubleshooting method involves a leak tracing dye and running it through the bathtub or toilet and cycling the dyed water through to see if it reaches the soil. If a leak is identified, zeroing-in on the problem area is the next task and will determine how much work will be required to fix the leak (cross your fingers for trenchless pipe repair).

If you still notice the smell after checking these common culprits, contact your preferred plumber for a more thorough inspection.

Resources found on our website are provided as general guidelines, and Reddi Industries does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.