How to Flush a Toilet Manually

by Jessica Sawyer | Toilets

Dispatch A Plumber!

Get started with a Plumbing Quote from Water Pros Plumbing. Serving Phoenix Arizona and Surrounding Cities.

There’s no doubt that toilet issues are common. From clogs to weak flushes, you’ve probably learned how to deal with your fair share of toilet-related trouble over the years. But when it comes to a toilet not flushing at all, it may leave you stumped. What are you supposed to do when your toilet fails at one of its most important jobs? Well, you learn how to flush a toilet manually!

Whether it’s due to a power outage, a plumbing issue, or a faulty part, knowing how to manually flush your toilet is an invaluable skill that can help you manage such emergencies with ease. So, in this article, we’re going to talk about what to do with a non-flushing toilet. We’ll go over the reasons you may need a manual flush, how to do it, and give you some tips for preventing it from happening again in the future.

Why You May Need to Manually Flush a Toilet

Before we get into the different ways you can manually flush a toilet, let’s talk about why you may need to do so in the first place. Here are some common scenarios:

Power Outages

In homes with toilets that rely on electric pumps, such as upflush toilets or systems with sewage ejector pumps, power outages can prevent the toilet from flushing properly.


A clog in the system can prevent water from flowing freely, leading to a non-functional flush. 

Faulty Toilet Parts

Parts of the toilet, such as the handle, chain, or flapper, can sometimes break or malfunction, which can interfere with the flushing process.

How to Manually Flush a Toilet

Now that you have a better idea of why you might need to flush a toilet manually, let’s get into how to do it. And there’s some good news here – the following methods don’t require any special equipment. In fact, manually flushing a toilet can be pretty simple.

1. Pouring Water into the Toilet Bowl

You’ll just need a bucket and some water for this first method.

Step 1: Grab a Bucket of Water

If you have a newer toilet, a bucket that can fit 1-2 gallons of water should be enough. But if it’s on the older side, then you’ll need one that can carry 3-5 gallons.

Step 2: Pour the Water into the Toilet Bowl

Start by slowly tipping the bucket of water into the bowl, and then speed up as it empties. The force of the water should be enough to mimic the flushing mechanism, pushing the contents through the drain.

2. Pouring Water into the Toilet Tank

If the toilet bowl method doesn’t work, then the problem may be with your tank. It could be due to problems with the lift chain, flapper, or a low water level in the tank.

Fortunately, this manual flushing method also only requires a bucket.

Step 1: Fill a Bucket with Water

As with our toilet bowl flushing solution, the first step is to fill a bucket with water.

Step 2: Remove the Tank Lid

Carefully take off the toilet tank’s lid and set it aside in a safe place.

Step 3: Pour Water into the Tank

Slowly pour the water into the toilet tank until it reaches its normal level. This is typically about an inch under the edge of the tank, or at the water line.

Step 4: Flush the Toilet

Finally, flush the toilet using the handle as you normally would. If it doesn’t flush at this point, then try the next method.

3. Adjust the Rubber Flapper in the Toilet Tank

A faulty flapper could be the cause of your flushing problems, as it’s the part that controls the flow of water from the tank to the bowl.

Step 1: Remove the Tank Lid

Start by carefully removing the lid of the toilet tank.

Step 2: Locate the Flapper

The flapper is typically a rubber part at the bottom of the tank. You should find it connected to the flush handle via a chain.

Step 3: Pull the Flapper Upwards

After making sure it’s still connected to the chain (if it’s not, reconnect it), gently lift the flapper. Water should start rushing from the tank into the bowl, flushing the toilet. 

When done, release the flapper so it can seal the tank once more (make sure it’s sitting on the opening at the bottom of the tank).

When to Call a Plumber for a Toilet That Won’t Flush

If you’ve attempted a manual flush and it’s still not working, or you suspect a deeper plumbing problem, it’s time to call a professional. Ongoing problems could be a sign of a blockage deep in the system, or issues with the sewer line that require expert attention.

Tips for Preventing Manual Flushing

While knowing how to manually flush your toilet is helpful, preventing them from happening is even better. So, here are a few tips to help maintain your toilet:

  • Regular Maintenance: Periodically check and replace faulty parts like the flapper, chain, and handle.

  • Understand Your Plumbing: It’s not everyone’s favorite subject, but it’s worth familiarizing yourself with your home’s plumbing system. It can help you identify any potential problems early on.

  • Avoid Clogs: Be mindful of what you flush down the toilet. Avoid disposing of items that can easily clog the pipes, such as wet wipes, sanitary products, and excessive toilet paper. And keep a plunger nearby to deal with any minor blockages before they turn into major ones.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re dealing with a power outage, a plumbing issue, or faulty parts, knowing how to manually flush your toilet is a practical skill for any homeowner. It can save you from the inconvenience – and in some cases, embarrassment – that often comes along with toilet-related issues.

Just remember to always be cautious and mindful of safety precautions before attempting any DIY plumbing fixes, and don’t hesitate to call a professional if needed. With this knowledge, you should be able to confidently handle any toilet flushing situation that comes your way. 

When it comes to plumbing, knowledge is power – and with these tips, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a DIY plumbing expert. Happy flushing!

Need a hand with a toilet that isn’t flushing? If so, we’d be happy to help! Click here to schedule a Water Pros Plumber online, or call (480) 459-4424 today.

Contact Us Today!

Our team is ready to help with your plumbing needs