Even though the toilet is an essential part of daily living, few people give it much thought — until it no longer flushes. While it might seem as if a toilet can handle just about anything that people flush down, there are actually very specific do’s and don’ts for flushing. For this reason, only toilet paper should be flushed; anything else, including sanitary napkins, could cause the pipe to clog, making flushing impossible.

Keep in mind that even too much toilet paper can be a problem. If a pipe does become clogged, most often plunging the toilet will force the clog out. If the toilet gets clogged on a regular basis, it might be necessary to use thinner toilet paper and talk to the other members of the family so they understand what can and cannot be flushed.

In addition to a clogged toilet, there are other reasons for a problem with flushing, such as an inadequate level of water in the bowl. The bowl needs to be full of water, which, after pulling the handle to flush, is used to force products in the toilet through the pipes. When the water level is too low, there is not enough water to do the job. The first step involves checking the shutoff valve to make sure it was not accidentally turned off.

One problem might be the flapper inside the toilet tank. If this becomes bent or warped, then the bowl will not fill up with the right amount of water needed for flushing. If this is the problem, the flapper will need to be replaced. Simply shut the water off, drain the tank by flushing, and then take out the old flapper to put in the new one.

Another reason that a toilet will not flush has to do with a broken chain. This chain connects to the handle and flapper. If the chain has come undone or is broken, then the toilet will not flush. If the chain simply came off, it can be easily attached, but if it has actually broken, a new chain will need to be installed. Again, this is a simple process that takes a couple of minutes.

After checking the most obvious reasons for a toilet not flushing, if the problem still exists, it may be time to call in a licensed plumber. After all, there are more complex reasons for a toilet not to flush beyond repairs an average homeowner can do. If the problem has to do with a major clog, the plumber will use special equipment to get the toilet back in perfect working order.

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