Here again, is the all-important question:
“Can you flush the toilet when the power is out ? “
Be sure to answer this question before you make yourself comfortable on the toilet seat during a power outage. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that. It would all boil down to how your indoor plumbing system is built. The good news is, for most people, the toilet can still be flushed just fine even if there is a power outage.
There are a lot of things that stop when the power goes out. You already know that your kitchen appliances and entertainment center would stop working. But have you ever stopped and asked yourself if your toilet will work just fine? As much as you like, you cannot live on toilet paper alone. You’ll also need toilet water.
But how about the others who are not as lucky? How do you know if you’re one of them? If you are, then you surely want to be prepared for the situation. Usually, the power goes out when there’s an upcoming storm. It may be a little different for you though if you’re using natural gas instead of electricity. But just the same, if there’s a severe weather warning up ahead, it pays to be alert and well-informed. You shouldn’t just stock up on toilet paper, but toilet water as well.
How to Know if your Flush Will Work When the Power Is Out
If you have constructed your house yourself, it would be easy to know whether your toilet flush valve will work even when there is a power outage. You will surely know where to look and what to check because you’re familiar with every pipe and tubing.
But if you didn’t build your house, you might as well look for that house plan or get reliable plumbing services and start checking. After all, you don’t want to be burdened by a weak flush, do you? Here are the steps you need to do to find out:
Step 1. Know where your main water source
It really won’t matter if you live in a small town or a big city. There are almost always only two choices for your main water source. Your home can either be connected to the city water system or the municipal water system.
The easiest way to check is through your water utility bill. If you are getting billed every month for water consumption, then you’re connected to one of these two sources. Your billing statement will also give you a lot of information about your main water source so read and understand it when you have the time.
Step 2. Check if you are connected to well water.
If you’re not getting any water utility bill at all, then your home must be connected to well water. Water from a well travels several from the underground and is taken to the surface and into the different parts of your home using an electric pump.
It is run by a system that is connected to a power source. Its job is to create enough water pressure to get water into any pipe around the house. If your home is connected to well water, then you are one of those that will experience problems flushing the toilet in case of a power outage. But don’t worry. We’ll also share some tips on how to prepare for such an instance in this article.
Step 3. Find out how elevated your home is.
Whether you’re connected to the city water supply or well water, the elevation of your home could affect how water is distributed to key areas, especially the toilet. If your house is several feet above the ground, then water may have to be pumped up the pipes to get where they are supposed to be.
If that is the case with you, high are chances that you’ll have issues with toilet water when the electric power pumps are out. On the other hand, small apartments and residential homes will not likely have an issue with this, as the water pressure provided either by nature or the water tower is sufficient.
Step 4. Find out if there’s a water reservoir in your apartment.
For people living in high-rise buildings, it pays to know if the property maintains a water reservoir or holding tank on top of the building for practical reasons. These reservoirs are where the water is stored and distributed to each apartment. Again, an electric pump may be needed to get the water up there.
You may have problems if there will be an extended power outage. For short ones, your toilet may do just fine as there will be enough water stored in the holding tank to cover everyone’s needs for a certain period.
Step 5. Find out if you own upflush toilets
Upflush toilets are usually installed in the basement. If your complex has basement apartments and you live in one or if you have a toilet installed in the basement, you are likely to have this type of toilet. As such, you’ll also run into problems flushing it in case of a power outage.
These toilets won’t function without power mainly because water flow won’t happen. This toilet is powered by electricity. It has a console that is connected to a power outlet nearby. If this is a spare toilet in your home, better not use it until the power comes along.
Things to Do if a Power Outage will Affect Your Water Supply
By now, you should have a good idea whether you’ll have problems flushing toilet bowls in case the power is out. The next question to answer is, “How are you supposed to prepare for it?” Below are some tips and tricks to help you get by until the power outage is over, and things are back to normal.
1. Stock as many gallons of water as you possibly can.
As soon as you hear any forecast of bad weather or announcement of a water outage, collect all the containers that you can find and fill them up with water. You’ll need all the extra water that you can get. Any bucket would do, as you may use that to flush the toilet using the gravity flush principle.
2. Learn how to do the gravity flush.
With the gravity flush method, you’re supposed to use the water from the bucket and pour it with a certain amount of force to create enough water pressure or flushing power to push toilet water down the toilet bowl and into the drain, sewer, septic tank, or wherever solid waste or excess water is deployed.
Note that you can’t use this trick if you are using a water container with a small opening. The water will simply go around the toilet bowl and accomplish nothing. This method is going to be most helpful on a tankless toilet, gravity fed toilet, or conventional toilet.
3. Fill up the toilet tank.
For this method, you’ll pour the water into the toilet tank to fill it up. Then just use the toilet flush valve as you would. For the entire duration of the power outage, fill the toilet tank with water before getting on the toilet seat. Best to take the toilet tank lid off and store it in a safe place for now. Just take extra care of the toilet parts now exposed, especially the overflow tube.
Remember to just fill the toilet tank to the right water level. It should just be enough for flushing water into the toilet bowl. This method will work on almost all flush toilets and commercial toilets with tanks. It may also work with a smart toilet, but it must have a removable water tank lid.
4. Fill the bathtub.
If you don’t have a large enough container for storing water, use the bathtub instead. But resist the temptation of soaking and relaxing in the tub for the time being. Keep in mind that you are using it as a toilet water reservoir. Your bathtub can hold more than 40 gallons of water, which is probably enough to last the power outage.
But don’t go around and waste some water even if you have a bathtub full of it. You’ll never know when you’ll need extra water in a prolonged power outage. So don’t let it all go down the drain. Every drop counts.
5. Find other water sources outside.
In case you were caught unaware of a power outage, and you don’t have water stocked in your toilet, don’t lose hope. There may be water outdoors that you can use. If you have a pool, pond, or any other type of water feature installed outdoors, you may get water from it for the time being. Note that this water can only be used for flushing and not for other purposes such as cleaning.
6. Get it from the water heater.
If you don’t have any water features, then maybe you have a water heater? Don’t do this unless it’s the only choice you have left. Draining hot water from the heater is hazardous. Be sure to do this very carefully. Use a large bucket and cool the water first before using it to flush the toilet. Hot water can damage porcelain fixtures. Do note though, that this method won’t work if you have a tankless water heater.
7. Use rainwater.
If the cause of the power outage is a storm and you don’t have water stocked indoors, maybe you can find ways how to collect rainwater outside. Find where the downspout in your house is located and see if you can collect water from it. If that’s not possible, you may simply put a bucket out on the patio and fill it up. Just select an area to place the bucket where the water tends to collect or drain out more.
These are just some of the important things you need to know and do so you won’t be taken by surprise in case there’s a power outage and your toilet doesn’t seem to work. It always pays to prepare early for instances like these so your days will remain as comfortable as you want them to be, despite the conditions outside. Going through all these may even teach you never to waste any water ever again.