How to Flush a Toilet Without Running Water

how to flush a toilet without running waters

We are so used to the privilege of having access to running water, that it’s often something we overlook as important. Taking flushing for granted is something that we’re all guilty of until that nasty thunderstorm knocks the power out.


Why Wouldn’t I Have Running Water?

There’s several things that can prevent your access to running water. Your water supply could be shut off because of a plumbing problem. A plumbing repair, remodeling your home, or even a storm or natural disaster could take out your water supply. If your electricity is out, that will typically take out your water supply too. If significant maintenance is required, the water might even be shut down at a municipal level.

While not having running water can put a halt to many other everyday activities, like taking a shower, there’s still ways you can use your toilet and flush it too.

Besides these things that may be out of your control, there’s some other specifics you can check out if none of these are the case. There’s plenty of plumbing issues you can troubleshoot at home without footing a repair bill.

A Clogged Sewer Line

One thing that might prevent running water to your toilet is a clogged sewer line. If this is clogged, your toilet bowl won’t be able to fill with water. You can easily fix this plumbing issue by running a drain snake through the pipe.

Toilet Tank is Empty

Another reason is an empty tank. Since the tank is the toilet’s main water supply, it’s a key item in the flushing process. If you’ve got no toilet water, check under the tank lid.

Check the float ball and the fill valve inside of your tank. If the ball is too low, adjust it. Also check the flapper chain and the toilet flapper. If any of these components aren’t doing their job, they could be your issue.

Leaky Toilet

When it comes to common toilet problems, toilet leaks are more likely than you might think. A leak can cause a multitude of plumbing issues, including the lack of running water.

If your toilet is leaking, it’s probably using up all the water by leaking before it even gets to the toilet bowl. If you can’t find the leak and repair it yourself, this can be fixed by a professional plumber.

Leaking Flush Valve

Another issue could be the flush valve. The flush valve can become damaged, allowing leaks between itself and the toilet flapper, and preventing the bowl from filling up properly.

Flushing the Toilet When the Water is Off

Flushing the Toilet When the Water is Off

If you suddenly get a cut in power, don’t worry. Since your toilet refills the toilet tank after you flush, there should still be able to flush one more time. The toilet tank flushes the liquid waste from the toilet bowl down when the flush handle is pulled. If you’ve got no luck with that final flush, you’ll have to add more water.

All you need is a bucket and some extra water. Working around no running water is easy; it doesn’t even require any access to water pressure. So, what do you do when your toilet bowl isn’t full anymore?

What You Will Need

6 essential plumbing tools for the home

While you can still flush without water, you’ll need a couple of extra materials and tools:

  • A big bucket
  • A cup-type plunger
  • A flange-type plunger
  • Seal tape
  • An adjustable wrench
  • Cleaning cloths

All of these are basic items that should be kept on hand, regardless of whether you have running water issues or not. Any plumbing issues, plumbing services, or even a mild power line being down can leave you wishing you had a running toilet. You should have your own indoor plumbing kit at home for emergencies like this one.

Also, make sure you plan accordingly. If you’re in a place that’s prone to storm-related outages, keep an eye on the weather. If you hear that a big storm is coming out, one that could potentially knock out your electricity, you should probably have some water set aside just in case.

Where to Get Extra Water

Where to Get Extra Water

If you’re going to try and flush your toilet without water pressure, you’re going to need a substantial amount of extra water. Most likely, your entire home’s water supply is offline, unless there’s just a plumbing problem with your toilet alone. If you happen to have running water somewhere in your house, great! Fill your buckets there. If not, there’s plenty of ways you can gather some extra flushing fuel.

If there’s a pool or a pond nearby, fill your buckets up there. Since it’s not supposed to be drinking water, dirty or chlorinated water will be alright for the time being.

You can also melt snow if that’s available to you. Fill your buckets with the snow and take them to a warmer place to melt.

Ask your friendly neighbors! Sharing is caring, so ask your neighbor for some help. They can lend you an extra gallon if they’ve got some on hand.

Of course, you can buy your gallons of H2O from the local grocery store. Water is cheap and easy to come buy, so there shouldn’t be any holdups from a flushing toilet.

Now, if you’re aware that your water will be out, there’s ways to prepare too. You’ve got a professional plumber headed your way for some scheduled plumbing services, what do you do? Before they get here, fill your bathtubs with water so you’ve got some for when the water is shut down. You could also fill your sinks for extra measures. That way, when your plumbing issue threatens to take out your running toilet you’ve got some backup.

The Gravity Flushing Method

There’s a couple different ways that you can flush your toilet without having water pressure. Whether you have an older toilet or a modern toilet, these methods will work for both kinds.

For this method, you’ll need a few gallons of water. Most modern toilets will only need around a gallon and a half for a flush. However, older toilets might need more.

  1. Gather the water you’ll need to flush it. You should have at least a gallon or two to spare.
  2. Fill a big bucket that you can easily use with some water.
  3. Lift the toilet lid and the toilet seat.
  4. Start to pour water into your toilet bowl. You have to pour with some force in order to replicate the pressure of a toilet flush. Pouring too slow will only fill the toilet bowl.
  5. Repeat as many times as you need to complete the toilet flush.

Seems like rocket science, but it’s actually very simple in terms of how it works. The heavy flow of water in the bowl will push what’s in the bowl through the plumbing system. You won’t have to touch the flush lever or the toilet tank. There’s no need to remove the toilet tank lid or refill the toilet tank.

The Toilet Tank Method

toilet tank
toilet tank

If the first method doesn’t work for you or you prefer to deal with your toilet tank, this one is for you. Instead of pouring the water into the toilet bowl, you can fill your tank instead. You’ll still need to fill the bowl a little bit, but you’ll be using the flush handle to make the toilet work.

  1. Gather a large amount of water into a bucket. You’ll probably need more than using the pouring method. If you’re low on supply, this probably isn’t the best way to go.
  2. Lift the toilet lid and the toilet seat.
  3. Fill your toilet bowl so it looks like a normal toilet. The water level should be just as it was if you had a running toilet. As long as you’ve got a full bowl, you’ve got another flush.
  4. Take off the toilet tank lid. Place it carefully to the side to avoid damaging it.
  5. Fill your toilet tank until the water level hits the top of the overflow tube.
  6. Wait a couple of minutes to give the water time to run through the pipes and into the bowl.
  7. Flush your toilet with the flush lever just like your would on a normal day.

Typically, you only need about half a tank for a good flush, but that might depend on your toilet. Pretty much every standard toilet has a tank to fill. If you happen to have a tankless toilet, unfortunately, this method isn’t an option for you. If there’s no tank to fill, there’s no tank to help you flush either.

This method is typically easier and works more reliably than the gravity way. However, filling up your toilet tank takes more water. If you’ve got very little water to spare, you should try your hand at the first method.

Leave a Comment