How To Flush a Toilet When the Water Is Off

Person using a finger to flush a push button toilet.
Many of us don’t give a second thought to how our toilet works until it doesn’t. When the water is off, is it possible to flush the toilet? Fortunately, there are ways to operate your toilet even while the water is shut off. This knowledge will come in handy when the power is out, your home is undergoing plumbing repairs, and when the city shuts off your water to perform maintenance.

How to Flush a Toilet Without Running Water

Can you flush the toilet when the power is out? Most toilets have a large enough water reserve to flush one more time, even when the water is off. After someone uses the final flush, more water will need to be added to the bowl.

When you flush, the contents inside the toilet bowl are emptied by the water from the toilet tank and flushed down the drain.

To flush the toilet when there is no running water, try the following:

  1. Fill a 4-litre bucket with water and keep it by the toilet. This water could come from many places, such as a helpful neighbor, rainwater collection, etc.
  2. When it’s time to use the toilet, go about business as usual. When done, start slowly adding the water from your bucket into the bowl, then dump the remaining water in quickly at the end. This helps push the contents of the bowl through the pipes. Note: if you’re more comfortable with adding water directly to the toilet tank and flushing like normal, you can also do that, but it will require more water.
  3. There’s no need to use the flush handle or empty the toilet tank.
  4. If you are aware of a water shut-off, you could prepare a couple of buckets of water and keep them near the toilet for future use.

Related Topic: 3 Ways to Manually Flush a Toilet

Water Use Without Power

Can You Use Well Water When the Power Is Out?

Some houses may receive their water supply from private wells. Water wells use electric well pumps to deliver water to the house. If you are experiencing a power outage, the pump will not function. Typical wells have a reserve tank that will fill so that the pump isn’t working all the time. So, you will have access to some water while the reserve tank is still full, but once that’s used up, you won’t have a water supply until power is restored.

If The Power Goes Out, Does City Water Still Work?

If you live in a municipality and are hooked up to city water, your water supply should not be interrupted by a power outage. However, you will not be able to operate plumbing appliances that require electricity, such as a dishwasher. If your toilet relies on an electric pump, it will also not function. Luckily, most toilets work without power.

On the other hand, if your water is directly shut off due to city maintenance, you will not have access to running water.

After Water and Power Are Restored

Once the power has been restored, your water supply will be as well. However, if your well pump doesn’t turn back on once your electricity is back on, you may need to reset your well pressure switch. The pressure switch may be automatically disabled when your water tank goes below a certain tank pressure.

In cases where power surges, storms, lightning damage, or flood damage impacts your home, you may need the services of a licensed plumbing professional from your local Mr. Rooter Plumbing. We are experienced and equipped to solve your plumbing problem. Call us or request an estimate online.