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How to Flush a Toilet Without Running Water [4 Easy Steps]

In order to flush a toilet when your water is not currently running, first, remove the lid on top of the toilet tank. Then, fill a bucket or jug with water. This can be water from a store or any other safe source. You will need 1.6 gallons (6 liters) of water to properly flush most home toilets. Pour this water directly into the toilet tank, then pull the toilet handle to flush your toilet.

How to flush toilet without running water

Can You Manually Fill Your Toilet Tank?

You can easily fill your toilet tank manually in the event that your water is not running during a power outage or emergency. Simply remove the lid on the top of the toilet tank. This will reveal the inner workings of your toilet tank. This area is where water is traditionally held prior to flushing. In order to fill this tank, simply pour water directly into the open tank.

How Much Water Do You Need to Flush a Toilet?

Modern toilets require 1.6 gallons of water (6 liters) to properly flush the contents of the toilet bowl through your indoor plumbing. This number applies to all toilets manufactured from 1982 onward. In fact, some low-flow toilets require even less water than this for a full flush.

  • Standard home toilets require 1.6 gallons (6 liters) of water to flush properly.
  • Low-flow toilet models require less than a gallon (4 liters) of water.
  • Older toilets may require as many as 7 gallons of water (26 liters) per-flush.

If your toilet was manufactured before 1982, it will require 5–7 gallons of water (19–26 liters) per flush. These toilets are rare in homes today, so 1.6 gallons is typically a good benchmark.

How Do You Flush a Toilet with a Bucket of Water? [4 Steps]

If your water supply is interrupted, you can still flush your toilet using only a bucket of water. If you can purchase water from a store or get it from a neighbor, you’ll be able to flush your toilet within minutes. Here’s how:

Remove the Toilet Tank Lid

First, remove the porcelain lid from the toilet tank. This will expose the toilet tank where water is held in preparation for each flush. If there is a very low water level in the tank, you will need to fill it before you flush.

  • Lift off the toilet tank lid to expose the tank’s water reservoir.
  • If there’s a high level of water in the tank, you may be able to flush once before manually refilling.
  • If there is a low level of water (or no water) in the tank, you will need to fill it manually.

Flushing a toilet requires a large quantity of water to be stored in the toilet tank, then released into the toilet bowl all at once. When your water is running, the tank refills automatically after each flush. However, without running water you’ll need to manually refill the tank between flushes.

Fill a Bucket with Water

To fill your toilet tank, first, fill a bucket or large jug with water. We recommend filling a 5-gallon bucket with water. One bucket will provide about 3 flushes. If your home has no running water, you’ll need another water source. Gallons of bottled water can be purchased at most grocery and convenience stores. Alternatively, you can use rainwater or water pumped directly from a well. The water you use to flush your toilet does not have to be drinking water.

  • Fill a 5-gallon bucket with water to use for multiple flushes.
  • Use fresh water from bottled jugs, rainwater, or water from a well.
  • Do not use chemical-treated water such as pool water. This may damage your septic system.

Never use a liquid other than water to flush your toilet. Additionally, do not use water mixed with chemicals or chlorine, such as pool water. Treated water and other liquids can damage your plumbing or septic system.

Pour Water into the Toilet Tank

Pour 1.6 gallons of water (6 liters) directly into your open toilet tank. Often, there will be a visible water line that shows where water fills the tank when your water is running. Fill to this line. Alternatively, use about one and half-gallon jugs of water to fill the tank.

  • Pour water from a bucket or jugs directly into the open tank.
  • Fill the tank with about 1.6 gallons of water.
  • Do not underfill the tank—this will lead to a failed flush.

Do not fill your tank halfway in an attempt to use less water for flushing. Inadequate water pressure leads to improper flushing. A half-filled tank will not have enough force to carry the waste in the toilet bowl through your indoor plumbing. Fill the toilet tank fully so you don’t have to refill and try again.

Flush Your Toilet

Now that your toilet tank is filled with over a gallon of water, you’ll be able to flush all the contents of the toilet bowl. All that you need to do is push the toilet lever to flush. You can even flush your toilet if it has a missing or broken handle.

How Do You Flush a Toilet Without Water?

In order to flush a toilet in the event your home does not currently have running water you should:

  • Remove the toilet tank lid.
  • Fill a bucket or jug with water from an alternate water source, such as store-bought water.
  • Pour 1.6 gallons (6 liters) of water into the open toilet tank.
  • Use the toilet handle to flush.

There is simply no way to flush a toilet with zero water, but you can still find ways to fill your toilet tank and flush it even if your home water supply is not currently active. No special tools are required, just a bucket or a few jugs of water.

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