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How To Flush A Toilet When The Water Is Off

by | Apr 19, 2022 | Plumbing Guides

When the water in your home has to be turned off for whatever reason, you can suddenly become aware of how much you rely on it.

From washing your hands to showering to boiling your rice for dinner – all of a sudden, all of these conveniences are gone! And the worst one to lose is being able to flush a toilet with just a press of a button.

Luckily, it’s not impossible to flush a toilet when your water is shut off so just follow these steps to find out how you can flush your toilet when the convenience of running water is not open to you.

Hoard Your Water

If you know that you have to shut off your water soon, then the sensible thing is to hoard your water like a dragon with gold.

Keep an eye on your local weather forecasts for any impending bad weather or any mail you may have saying that your area is going to be without water for a while as important maintenance is being done.

So, a few hours before you expect to be without water, start to hoard water.

You should fill up as many containers and buckets as possible with water because this will help you get through the next few days without having to run to the store every time you need some water.

This way, you won’t waste any precious water that you could use later on. If you are caught unawares, try and use rainwater to collect outside, melt snow, or just head to the store and fork out on bottled water instead.

So, what do you need? Well, you’ll need at least two gallons of water per person in your household , but if you’re going to boil or wash dishes, you might want more than that.

The best way to store your water is to just fill up your bathtub with as much water as you can. Fill up jugs, buckets, pots, anything you can with water so you have plenty to use when cooking, cleaning – and flushing your toilet.

How To Flush Your Toilet

How flushing a toilet works is actually pretty simple. Your toilet is connected to a tank full of water which flows down into your toilet bowl when you pull the lever.

The water pressure pushes down the dirty water and forces all of your waste to flow down the pipes into your sewer system and leaves behind plenty of fresh water in your toilet bowl.

When your water is shut off, you will have enough water in your toilet’s tank for a single flush. After that, the tank will not refill with water because your water is off – so it’s down to you to flush your toilet yourself.

Grab a huge jug or bowl full of water, lift the toilet seat and pour the water down the bowl yourself. This should work just like a normal flush but you will need to pour the water in as quickly as you can for it to work effectively.

The fresh water you are pouring into your toilet bowl will force the waste down the pipes and down into the sewer system.

This process may take a few tries until the water in your toilet bowl is completely clean. Each toilet flush uses 1.6 gallons of water but it can be a bit less depending on how much waste is down the bowl.

This method is known as a gravity flush and it’s pretty effective, meaning that it is also the most popular method people use to flush their toilets when their water is shut off.

Things To Keep In Mind

This method is not a desirable way to constantly flush your toilet but it works great as a short-term solution. However, nothing is perfect and there are a few things to keep in mind when using the gravity method to flush your toilet when your water is shut off.

The first thing to remember is that a lot of germs and bacteria are forced up into the air when a toilet is flushed.

This is why it’s highly recommended that you close the lid before you flush otherwise that bacteria will end up on your clothes and surrounding surfaces every time you flush the toilet.

Unfortunately, this is impossible when using the gravity flush to flush your toilet. As a result, you will want to wash your hands and try to keep your face away from the toilet as you pour the water in. If you can, try washing your face afterwards.

Also, try to keep flushing the toilet to a minimum so you waste less water and are less likely to need to make a trip to the store for bottled water.

Of course, this is gross – but just closing the toilet lid to keep any aromas limited and waiting after a few trips to flush. This works best as long as you’re only having a Number Three – the other kind you should flush straight away once you are done.


So, the moment that you know that your water is going to be shut off, start planning to create a stockpile that you can use.

You need to plan ahead and get ready to do some serious flushing using the gravity method. So, fill up the bathtub, fill up your jugs and containers, and pick up some bottles of water at your local store as a safety net.

Remember to keep your face away from the toilet as it flushes, wash and sanitize your hands for hygiene, and try to keep flushes to a minimum. This will waste less water and make it more likely that you will not run out by the time your water is shut on again.

Once your water is back on, the tank of your toilet should refill and you can switch back to conventional flushing – and never take the blessing of running water for granted ever again!

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