How To Flush The Toilet When The Water Is Off

How To Flush The Toilet When The Water Is Off

Anthony Barnes

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We often don’t think about just how lucky we are to have running water.

The fact over 758 million people in the world don’t have any access to running water just goes to show how lucky we should count ourselves. 

Without running water, there are a number of things we can’t do around the home. This includes flushing our toilets.

How To Flush The Toilet When The Water Is Off

A flushing toilet is something we all take for granted until we find ourselves in an emergency situation.

When our home’s water is turned off, whether it be down to a plumbing issue, repairs in the area, or general remodeling in your home, things can quickly become embarrassing when we go to the restroom but don’t know how to make the toilet flush. 

Luckily, flushing a toilet while it’s not functioning is possible. Even luckier, it’s very easy to do.

In this short post, we’ll show you exactly how to flush the toilet when your water is off.

What Happens To The Toilet When There’s No Running Water?

Before we look at the solution, let us tell you what to expect when your water first goes off.

When the water in your home is turned off (see also ‘7 Life Hacks for Students if the Water Is Off in Your Dorm‘), there should already be enough water in the toilet for one last flush.

You might want to use that one flush wisely.

The reason for this last flush is down to the fact the toilet’s tank refills every time we flush it, so it is ready for the next flush.

Unfortunately, if someone has already used your last flush, the toilet won’t flush again.

You will now have to add your own water which we will look at shortly.

All you require to fill the tank again is water. It doesn’t have to be running or pressurized.

When the handle on the toilet is pulled, the toilet’s contents are emptied, flushing any waste away. 

How You Can Flush The Toilet When You Have No Running Water

Flushing the toilet, once the water has gone off, is pretty straightforward.

Instead of using pressure and running water, you will need to use an external source of water and gravity.

There are two main steps to this process. We have listed them both in detail below.

Step 1 – Collect Water

The first thing you need to do when trying to flush your toilet when the water is off is source some water.

To flush a toilet, you need approximately 2 gallons of water.

There are a number of ways you can source water despite your water being off.

Step 1 - Collect Water

If you have prior knowledge of the water going off, you can fill your bathtub with water in advance.

Then when your water goes off you have a decent supply of water to use until it gets turned back on. 

A lot of the time, we aren’t fortunate enough to have prior knowledge of the water going off.

If that is the case, don’t worry, you still have plenty of options.

If you have a jacuzzi or pool you can quite easily use the water from there.

But, if this isn’t feasible either, why not take a trip to your local store and buy a few bottles or jugs of water. 

Step 2 – Pour The Water Into Your Toilet Bowl

Now you have the water ready, it’s time to flush the toilet. This part is probably a lot easier than you think. 

You have two simple options. Firstly, you can fill the toilet tank until the water reaches the top part of the overflow tube.

Once that is done, you can simply flush the handle like you normally do. This will empty the toilet.

The second option you have is known as the ‘gravity flush’.

All you need to do is pour roughly 2 gallons of water directly into the toilet bowl.

You should start slowly and then quickly pour the rest into the bowl.

The pressure from this water dump will force the toilet to flush. This method doesn’t require you to use the handle.

Take Caution

While flushing your toilet using either of the methods above is pretty safe, you should take some caution when pouring the water in. 

For starters, it is surprisingly easy to make a mess using either method.

If you pour the water in too fast, toilet water might splash out of the bowl and onto your skin.

This can leave bacteria on your body which can be fairly unpleasant.

Secondly, whenever you flush the toilet bacteria rises. That is why we are normally recommended to shut the lid before flushing.

Obviously, this is impossible when using the gravity method, so you should always make sure your head is well away from the toilet bowl when you pour the water.

This will keep you away from any nasty bacteria and germs.

Final Thoughts

There you go, you should now know exactly how to flush your toilet when your water is off.

Both methods we have looked at take a matter of seconds to do, so as long as you have another water source to hand, you can continue to use your toilet until the running water is back on.

Always remember to keep your face away from the bowl when pouring, and if possible, try and keep some emergency water to the side if you have any prior knowledge of the water going off.

This will save you a trip to the store.

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age