Can You Still Flush A Toilet When The Water Is Shut Off?

image of person flushing toilet when water is off

A trip to the bathroom without running water may seem strange, but it’s certainly doable. Is a toilet that won’t flush a serious plumbing problem? And how concerned should I be?

Don’t panic. A toilet that isn’t flushing does not rank up there with dire plumbing emergencies like a flood, burst pipe, or a messy in-home backup. These types of immediate and concerning predicaments can cause some serious property damage — not to mention they can often cost homeowners a pretty penny to fix.

That said, a toilet that doesn’t flush can be a huge embarrassment for the person who unknowingly uses the restroom without realizing the water is shut off. No one wants to be in that position!

Thankfully, even if your home has no running water, there are a few ways to get rid of the contents in the toilet bowl. Rest assured if your water is shut off, for whatever reason, you have some surprisingly simple options to flush your toilet. The key is to know how to flush toilet when water is off. In this article, we discuss those options.

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How To Flush Toilet When Water Is Off

Many newer model toilets only require 1.5 gallons, some even less, to properly flush. However, please keep in mind if you have an older model toilet, it very well may take a few more gallons of water. It’s always wise to know what type of toilet is in your home, and understand approximately how much water each flush uses prior to any plumbing issues. That way, should something unforeseen happen, you will be well prepared.

Option 1: There Is One Remaining Flush

image of a flushing toilet

If you’re looking for the quickest temporary fix, it helps to understand that usually, even if your water is abruptly shut off, your toilet will likely have a single flush left. This is because the toilet bowl automatically refills when someone flushes.

Many suggest “saving” this flush for when it is absolutely necessary and needed.

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Option 2: Using Another Water Source

bucket full of water to flush toilet

Already used your get-out-of-jail-free flush? Don’t worry! You can very easily recreate, or trip, the refilling mechanism located in your toilet tank.

Simply follow the steps below:

  1. Grab a utility bucket. It doesn’t have to be huge, but make sure it can hold up to 2 gallons of water. You’ll want to fill it up with water from another source, such as the faucet, pool, or the rain. Even floodwater will do the trick. (Incidentally, this is why it is often a good idea to fill up your bathtub if you have fair warning your water will be shut off. This is also a common practice in states bordering the Gulf of Mexico when a hurricane or strong tropical storm is approaching).
  2. Take off the lid to the toilet tank. Be careful not to drop the lid as these are usually made of thick porcelain, which renders them a bit awkward and heavy).
  3. Carefully pour the water you collected in the utility bucket into your toilet tank. Go slowly. Stop filling when the water line hits the very top of the overflow tube. Be careful not to pour in too much or you may have a mess to clean up.
  4. Viola! Now you can flush the toilet.
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Option 3: Flushing Without Removing The Lid To The Tank

If you want to avoid lifting off the lid of the toilet tank, there is another way to flush your toilet without running water.

  1. Get your utility bucket ready again and fill it with water. (If you filled your bathtub take it from there. If not, try the rain, a pool, or a collection of rainwater. If a neighbor has running water it also might be worth asking them).
  2. Next, open the toilet lid.
  3. Carefully pour water from the utility bucket directly into the bowl. Take care to do so slowly so you don’t risk overfilling or splashing. Strive to use about as much force pouring as a traditional flush.
  4. Repeat the step above until the bowl is clean and fresh.

While the options and instructions above may seem easy, should you encounter a serious plumbing issue that requires a swift repair or replacement, it is always best to call a licensed and experienced plumber. Do it yourself fixes can often create bigger messes that cost far more to properly address. It’s best to leave the repairs to the professionals.

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Contact Robinson Plumbing, one of the most trusted plumbing companies in the Lehigh Valley, for reliable plumbing services. We have lots of plumbing services ranging from toilet repairs and replacements, faucet upgrades, water leak repairs, clogged drain repairs, and more. We always give a wide range of solutions when possible for any plumbing repairs. This allows you to choose the best options for your budget and home.
We proudly offer the most affordable and best plumbing services in the Lehigh Valley area. Our plumbers all have the proper licenses and expertise to ensure your satisfaction. All of our work comes with a guarantee. Contact Robinson Plumbing today and schedule your free estimate.

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