It’s the middle of the night. You’re tired, groggy, and you need to pay a visit your porcelain throne for some paperwork. You sit down, perform your royal duties, and then, when you go to flush – nothing happens.
Now you remember – you had to shut your water off yesterday and it’s still not back on! Well… now what?
Indoor plumbing is one of the most taken-for-granted conveniences in first world countries. We turn on the faucet and water comes out. We flush the toilet and, well… you know. But what do you do when there’s no water pressure to make those things happen? Read on below to find out how to flush your toilet when the water is off!
Don’t worry – a toilet that won’t flush isn’t a serious problem.
If you find yourself in this situation, and assuming you don’t want to just wait until the water comes back on (which, depending on the reason it’s off, could be hours or days), there are a few ways you can still flush your toilet. All you need is a little bit of elbow grease and a healthy sense of adventure.
Oh, and don’t worry – there’s no need to call a plumber for this quick fix!
Do toilets need running water to flush?
A lot of people don’t know this, but the modern toilet doesn’t actually need running water to flush – gravity does most of the work. The water in your toilet bowl is enough to get the job done, it just needs a little help getting started. That’s where the tank comes into play.
The sole purpose of the tank is to hold a reserve of water to refill the bowl after each flush. Other than that, it’s not necessary for flushing… just helpful!
How to flush your toilet when the water is off.
So, how do you flush a toilet without any running water in your home? Here are 3 steps that will do the trick…
Step 1: Check the water level in your tank.
First, take the lid off of your toilet’s tank and check whether or not there’s still water in the tank. If there is, you’re in luck! You’ve got one flush left. If not, don’t worry – there are still ways to flush your toilet without water in the tank.
Step 2: Pour a bucket of water into the toilet bowl.
If, at this point, you’ve used up your last flush, don’t despair quite yet. All you need is a little bit of water – and depending on the size of your toilet bowl, about a gallon should do the trick.
Fetch a good-sized bucket (or a large soup pot) and fill it with a gallon of water. Slowly pour it into the toilet bowl, being careful not to overfill it, and watch as your bowl fills back up.
The weight of the water will be enough to start the flushing process. If not, then go ahead and continue on to the next step.
Step 3: Use a plunger if the bucket of water trick didn’t work.
If you don’t have a bucket, or if your toilet is particularly stubborn, you can try using a plunger. Just make sure that the cup of the plunger is covering the hole at the bottom of the bowl, otherwise it won’t work as effectively.
Cover the hole with the plunger and push and pull until water starts to siphon out of the bowl. If done correctly, this will create enough suction to get things moving. Be patient – it might take a few tries!
If you know your water is going to be shut off soon, be prepared!
The best thing you can do if you know your water is going to be shut off for an extended period of time is to be prepared. Fill up buckets or pots of water ahead of time so you can flush when you need to, without having to worry about finding a way to get more water.