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How To Fix a Toilet that Won’t Flush or Stop Running

If your toilet won’t flush, do not call a plumber right away.  With a few simple DIY tips, quickly learn how to fix a toilet that won’t flush.

Toilet Lift Chain

One of the most common causes of toilets not flushing is the toilet lift chain.

The toilet lift chain is broken if the flush lever has too much slack.
This chain connects the toilet handle to the toilet flapper valve.
Essentially, the toilet flapper valve at the bottom of the toilet tank releases water to the water bowl when the toilet flushes.

To check the toilet lift chain, simply open the top of the tank and inspect the chain.

toilet lift chain

Check Water Level

If your toilet won’t flush, the first thing to check is the water level in the toilet tank.
The toilet’s tank must contain enough water to properly flush the toilet. 

First, open the tank lid to check the water level.  
The water level should be directly below the top of the overflow tube.
If low, adjust the float valve or fill valve to allow more water into the tank.

check toilet water level

Next, look behind the tank near the floor to find the shut-off water valve.
Make sure the water valve is turned all the way counterclockwise to the open position.

toilet water shut off valve

Clogged Toilet Drain

A toilet plunger provides the most common easy fix for a toilet that won’t flush.
Create a good seal with the plunger or toilet auger and plunge down then up to dislodge any clogs in the drain line. 

toilet won't flush unclog drain with plunger

If that doesn’t work, inspect the flapper valve or flush valve in the tank.
A misaligned or old flapper may need adjusting or replacing for a better seal.

Other Common Toilet Issues and Fixes

Often times, toilets experience a range of other common issues that prevent them from working correctly.
In this section, learn about additional toilet problems and simple fixes to keep your bathroom plumbing in top shape.

Running Toilet

A running toilet wastes a significant amount of water and is often caused by a malfunctioning flapper valve.
When the flapper doesn’t seal properly after flushing, water continues to leak into the bowl.
To fix this, adjust or replace with a new flapper valve.
This stops the running toilet while preventing water waste.

Water Pressure

Insufficient water pressure causes a weak flush.
Low water pressure may be due to issues with the water supply or the float ball not allowing enough water into the tank.
Checking and adjusting the water supply helps fix water pressure-related flushing problems.

Partial Clog

A partial clog in the toilet drain line can impede water flow, causing incomplete or weak flushes.
Using a plunger or a plumbing snake can help dislodge the partial clog and restore proper drainage, allowing water to flush through the system.

Flapper Chain Length

As mentioned, the flapper chain connects the flush handle to the flapper valve.
If the chain is too long, it may prevent the flapper from sealing properly and leads to a running toilet.
If the chain is too short, it may not allow the flapper to open fully during a flush.

toilet flush handle arm

Adjusting the flapper chain to the correct length prevents running toilets.

Faulty Fill Valve

Replacing the fill valve can fix issues with not enough water filling the tank to initiate the flushing mechanism.

Blocked Rim Jets

Rim jets are small holes on the underside of the toilet bowl rim.
These create a swirling motion with water after the flush mechanism.  
Over time, mineral deposits and hard water stains block the rim jets.

Eliminate mineral deposits in the rim jets with a toilet brush, dish soap, and hot water.
Or, use a formulated rim jet cleaner.
This improves water flow and prevents weak flushes.

Issues with Tank Ball or Flapper

Inspect and replace worn-out tank balls or flappers for a better seal.

When to Call a Professional Plumber

how to fix a toilet that won't flush

If you can’t fix your toilet issue, call a professional plumber to help you with your plumbing problems.  
Plumbing experts fix everything from toilet clogs, sewer lines, water drains and more.

  • Persistent Toilet Issues: If your DIY attempts don’t solve persistent issues, consult a professional plumber.
  • Major Leaks at the Base: For major leaks, especially at the base of the toilet, seek immediate help from an emergency plumber.
  • Complex Repairs: If you encounter complex internal issues or lack the expertise, hire expert plumbers.
  • Old Plumbing System: Expert plumbers can assess and recommend upgrades for older plumbing systems.


I hope you learned how to fix a toilet that won’t flush.
Remember, some toilet repairs might require special tools or the expertise of plumbing professionals. 

If in doubt, consult with a local plumber for fix your toilet problems.

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