How to Repair a Toilet That Doesn't Flush Well

Written by benjamin routh
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How to Repair a Toilet That Doesn't Flush Well
A poorly flushing toilet can be frustrating and embarrassing. (disables bathroom image by Wolszczak from

Toilet problems can happen to anyone. We go to flush, and for some reason, the toilet doesn't flush well. This can be frustrating and embarrassing. A toilet may have difficulty flushing for a number of reasons. In rare situations, it may require an expensive plumbing bill. However, in many cases, you can do a simple fix in minutes.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Plunger
  • Snake
  • Pliers
  • Repair kit
  • Plumber

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  1. 1

    Use a plunger to loosen clogged pipes. Plungers are inexpensive and can fix the majority of flushing problems. Insert the round side of the plunger into the toilet. Use a back-and-forth suction motion to force pressure down the pipe. As you plunge, you may see debris start to move down into the pipe. Continue plunging, and try flushing again.

  2. 2

    Use a tool called a snake to clear out stubborn clogs in the pipe. A snake is a long pipe with a flexible metal wire inside. It works by sending the flexible tube down the pipes, which will loosen any clogs. Use the snake by firmly pressing the back of the device and twisting it in a clockwise direction to lower the wire. Run it through several times, and try flushing again.

  3. 3

    Remove the toilet lid, and inspect the handle. If the handle is loose or damaged, it may not flush well. Re-tighten the handle by using a pair of pliers on the nut just behind the handle. Turn in a clockwise direction to tighten. If the handle is broken, replace it using a repair kit from your local hardware store.

  4. 4

    Inspect the chain or wire attached to the handle. When the handle is pressed, the chain is lifted, which lifts the small rubber stopper. This allows the water to drain. If the chain is not tight enough, it will not adequately lift the small flap, preventing the toilet from flushing. Tighten the chain by placing a lower chain link on the hook on the handle. Test the handle to see if the chain raises the flapper properly.

  5. 5

    Inspect the rubber stopper connected to the chain. If the rubber stopper is broken where it attaches to the chain, it will not lift when you press the handle. Replace the rubber stopper if damage is visible by using a toilet repair kit. Gently lift the old stopper from the two support arms. Attach the new stopper to the chain top, and insert it onto the two small plastic support arms until it snaps in place. Press the handle to see if the chain now lifts the flapper.

  6. 6

    Pump the septic tank to remove clogs. A technician must perform this with a special machine. Septic tanks clog if they overfill with waste. After pumping the full septic tank, the toilet should flush properly.

Tips and warnings

  • Always wear gloves when working with toilets, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling the components.

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