Informational Guide

How To Flush A Toilet Without Running Water

Fortunately, your toilet doesn’t need water pressure or running water to function. Here’s how to flush your toilet without running water.

by Ian Haynes

Modern indoor plumbing, which was once a luxury, is now a necessity for every American household. Unfortunately, though, many of us have experienced a lack of water in our toilet at least once in our lives, and it never happens at a good time.

The first question many people ask after they lose water is how they will flush their toilet? In this guide, we'll go over a few basic tips that will help you make this awkward problem a bit more bearable.

Common Reasons Why Your Toilet Runs Out of Water

  • No water supply (or low pressure)
    If you aren't getting a water supply, you'll need to flush your toilet with a bucket (we'll talk more about that below) until it normalizes. If that doesn't work, check your faucets to see if they are working. If they aren't, contact your local water company.
  • Tank stops from filling water
    The next thing to check is the water valve on the toilet. If it has been turned off, your tank won't fill with water. The water level also needs to be above the overflow tube. If it's not, the tank won't flush. If you don't have enough water and the water is below the overflow tube, look into replacing the valve.
  • Warped or damaged flapper
    The flapper allows water to move from the tank to the toilet bowl. It's not uncommon for them to be damaged over time. If it's ever damaged, it won't work correctly, and your bowl won't fill correctly. This can be fixed by replacing the flapper.
  • Damage or cracked overflow tube
    If you notice any cracks or other damage on your overflow tube, that can be what's keeping your tank from filling up. You'll need to fix the overflow tube, and if you're handy, you should be able to do this yourself.
  • Broken lift chain
    Your flapper is connected with a lift chain. The lift chain raises the flapper when you flush, allowing it to fill up with water. Like the flapper, the lift chain can break over time, keeping your tank from filling up. Fixing the lift chain will remedy this problem.
How To Flush A Toilet Without Running Water

How to Manually Flush a Toilet: Without Running Water

Fortunately, your toilet doesn't need a certain amount of pressure or even running water to function properly. All you need is a little bit of gravity and access to another water source. Here are a few ways to manually flush your toilet.

Pour Water Into The Toilet Tank

Many issues you run into with your toilet are caused by something going wrong in your tank. If your toilet doesn't flush, there might be something going on inside of your water tank.

Fortunately, you can manually flush it by pouring water into your tank. First, remove your toilet tank cover and grab your bucket of water. Pour the water into the tank up to the waterline or about an inch below the edge. The exact amount of water you'll need for the flush will depend on your toilet.

Pour water directly into the toilet bowl

Another way to manually flush your toilet is to pour a little over a gallon of water directly into your toilet bowl. If you have an older toilet, you might need 3-5 gallons of water or more.

Grab your bucket of water and start pouring it into the bowl. Start slow, but gradually build up some speed and dump the remainder of the water into the bowl. This should push the waste in the toilet through your pipes, flushing your toilet.

Pull the Rubber Flapper in the Toilet Tank

The flapper in the tank of your toilet plays a critical role in the flushing of your toilet. If your toilet doesn't flush when you press the handle, you might need a new flapper. Before replacing the flapper, try pulling it up manually to flush your toilet.

To do this, you need to remove the toilet tank lid. If you notice that your chain is disconnected, grab the loose end and slide a link onto the hook at the end of the handle arm. Now try flushing again.

If that didn't fix it, make sure your flapper is seated over the opening at the bottom of the tank. If it isn't, re-seat it, and you should see water refilling the tank.

How To Get A Toilet To Flush Without Water

People also Ask (FAQs)

Where can I collect water from to manually flush my toilet?

If there's no water in your house, you can fill your bucket from a nearby stream, pool, or rain barrel if you have one. Or, if all else fails, you can ask a neighbor to lend you a hand.

How many times can you flush a toilet without water?

As long as you have another source of water, you can flush your toilet as much as you need to. However, if you cannot diagnose your problem, you should contact a professional to get it fixed.

Why does my toilet not fill up with water after flushing?

If your toilet isn't filling with water after you flush, it is usually a sign of a faulty fill valve, the toilet float being at an incorrect height, a leaky flapper, a cracked overflow tube, or low water pressure.

Can you flush poop with a bucket of water?

Yes, if the steps are done correctly, your bucket of water should push all of the waste in your toilet through your pipes. Here's a full guide if your toilet is actually blocked.

Is it bad to shut off water to the toilet?

Turning off the water to your toilet will not harm your plumbing, and it's recommended if you have frozen pipes, leaking supply lines, dripping water heaters, or any other plumbing issues.


If you have a bucket, access to water, and follow these tips, you should be able to flush your toilet even without running water. But if you use this guide and your toilet still won't flush, you should give your local plumber a call before any issues worsen.

Ian Haynes is an expert writer who has successfully deployed over 500 plumbing pages and other related content. He has an excellent understanding of home plumbing issues and translates his experiences via Plumbing Lab so readers can have a better understanding of common household problems. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador.