What To Do When Your Toilet Doesn’t Completely Flush (A Simple Fix)

We rely on the plumbing systems in our homes to get rid of waste we don’t need. When you find that your toilet is not flushing everything, it can be a major cause for concern. 

There are a few reasons why your toilet may be leaving things behind even when you flush. Regardless of the cause, you will need to fix it as soon as possible to avoid interruptions to your daily activities. 

When your toilet doesn’t completely flush, first check for a clog. If this isn’t the problem, inspect the flapper, inlet holes, overflow tube, and fill valve to see if repairs or replacements are needed. You can increase your toilet’s power by performing regular maintenance and staying on top of water levels. 

Common Flushing Issues

If your toilet doesn’t completely flush, you could be dealing with a number of issues, from a simple clog to broken parts. After being flushed multiple times a day by all of the members of a household, problems are likely to occur at some point. This section will give you insight into why your toilet may not be functioning at its peak. 


There are two types of toilet clogs you may be experiencing. These are referred to as “slow-drainers” and “no-drainers.” 

A slow-drainer clog occurs when something is stopping the toilet to from flushing completely, but some water is able to escape. If you flush and see or hear movement, this means there’s enough room in the drain for water to pass. 

A no-drainer clog is the opposite. When a massive clog or foreign object is completely blocking the toilet drain, there is no room for anything to pass through the pipes. If you attempt to flush and nothing happens, the obstruction will need to be removed entirely. 

Clog Toilet
Clog Toilet

In addition to the classifications of different types of clogs, there are various materials that commonly cause them. This can be anything from a large mass of toilet paper to a foreign object. 

You should only flush human waste and small amounts of toilet paper down the toilet. Do not dispose of trash or hair in the toilet, and be mindful of children flushing toys and other items when unsupervised. 

Parts of the toilet are broken

If there’s no visible clog in your toilet bowl, you may be dealing with a broken part. Some components that frequently break include the handle, flapper, drain, and fill valve. 

Toilet Flapper

The flapper stops the drain and aids in flushing, while the fill valve controls the water supply. Problems with your drain and handle can also contribute to lack of flushing. 

Parts of the toilet that need adjustment 

If you can’t find any broken parts on your toilet, something may need to be adjusted instead. The most common culprit for flushing problems is the fill valve. 

floating device on tank

Located at the top of the toilet inside the tank, there’s a floating device that measures water levels and contributes to the flushing function. A simple adjustment in this area can solve your problem almost immediately. 

Steps to increase your toilet flushing power

After dealing with a slow or inactive toilet, you may realize you took an efficient flushing speed for granted. Below, you will learn about some simple steps you can take to increase your toilet’s flushing power significantly. 

Look for clogs

When using your toilet daily, keep an eye out for any potential clogs. As soon as you notice something may be causing a blockage, take care of it immediately using a plunger or auger. 

Clogs for Toilet

If you have a slow-drainer clog, use a new plunger to gently and repeatedly apply pressure to the bowl. No-drainer clogs will require an auger to remove the obstruction by inserting it into the opening and cranking the handle. 

Check the toilet handle

Your toilet handle may not be working due to a worn down tab component inside. This mechanism helps the handle to pop back in place after a flush. 

Toilet Flush

The bolt that tightens the handle may also be loose. A quick fix for this problem is to open the lid and tighten the nut using a wrench. 

Increase the water level in the tank

The ideal water level for a toilet tank is 1-2 inches below the valve. By opening the lid and taking a look, you should be able to locate a marker on the inside that indicates where the water should be. 

If you need more water in your tank, you can pour it in from another source. Alternatively, you can pull the release clip on the adjustment stem to raise the levels from inside.

Fix the flapper

To adjust your flapper for more efficient flushing, simply move it up or down on the chain it’s attached to. This will change the amount of time it stays open and how much water is allowed to enter at once. 

Fixing Flapper

If you need flapper replacement instead, the process is similar. You can purchase a new one for a few dollars at any hardware store. To complete the installation, just remove the old piece and secure the new flapper in its place. 

Clean out inlets and siphon holes

The tiny holes in the rim of your toilet can affect flushing speeds when clogged. Before you begin, shut off the water supply and flush the remaining water out. 

To clean out your inlets and siphon holes, remove the lid on your toilet tank. Lift up the stopper on the flush valve with your hand and pour in a gallon of vinegar. 

inlets and siphon holes

Use plumber’s putty to stick sheets of paper towels along the inside of the rim, and leave everything there for 8 hours. When you return, remove the paper towels, turn the water back on, and flush to complete the process. 

Replace a damaged overflow tube

If your toilet doesn’t flush at all when you pull the handle or you have to hold it down longer than usual, it may be time for a new overflow tube. To replace your tube on your own, start by turning off the water and flushing the toilet. Disconnect the water supply line from the bottom of the toilet and remove the entire toilet tank. 

overflow tube

Once it’s open, you will be able to easily remove the old tube with a wrench and put the new one in its place. Make sure to install it flat and straight before replacing the tank and reconnecting the water lines. 

Fill valve assembly

The fill valve on your toilet is responsible for opening and closing at the right time to allow water in. If you have any problems with the fill valve, you can fix it by replacing it with a new one. 

Fill valve

Begin by shutting off the water supply, flushing the toilet, and disconnecting it from the wall. Twist the old fill valve off and insert the new one in the same location to complete the replacement. 

When to call the plumber

After trying all of the above DIY solutions, you may still require some assistance getting your toilet fixed. If you experience any of the following scenarios, you should call a professional plumber to help you. 

If you’ve attempted to fix all of the common issues and you still can’t flush your toilet, it could indicate a bigger problem. Instead of trying to figure iy out yourself, put your time into finding a reputable company to assist you. 

Where to find a plumber

Finding a plumber in your area can be as simple as performing a quick Google search. Services such as Thumbtack and Angi can also connect you with local professionals. 

Before you hire a contractor or team for your toilet repair, be sure to check reviews and references. It’s important to find the most qualified professional for the best results. 

Costs for repair and labor 

When you hire a plumber for toilet repair, you can expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $200 per hour for labor. The overall cost of your repair will depend on the parts needed and time it takes to complete. Overall, expect to spend $250 to $400 on any kind of toilet repair you may need. 

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