How to Flush a Toilet Without Water?

I suppose that you have faced a lack of water in the house at least once in your life. It is quite an awkward situation, especially if it has happened without any warning.

Fortunately, you can always count on this ‘one more’ flush, thanks to the way the toilet tank functions. A big question is what to do after that. Let me help you with a few basic tips, which will make this horrible problem a little more bearable.

Ways to Flush a Toilet without Water

Bathroom toilet plumbing doesn’t require an appropriate level of pressure or even running water to function regularly. That means if you have access to any water source, you can fill the tank regardless of supply interruption.

In a base of the process is gravity. In other words, drain water into the drainage system is the same, no matter if you use the water from the tank or a bucket. Let’s see.

1. Pour Water into the Toilet Tank

Pour Water into the Toilet Tank

Things you need

  • Water-tight container or a cup
  • Water
  • Paper towels


It is a quite convenient way to flush the toilet, but you need to move the toilet tank cover before starting to do that. Of course, you will still need the source of water, but it can be any liquid available.

The procedure is not complicated at all, and even your older child can flush the bowl if necessary. Use a water-tight container applicable in water transport, and ask your neighbor to fill it.

However, every water source will be good enough for this purpose, including a nearby swimming pool. If there is none, you can drive to the nearest pond, lake, or stream to fill the container.

Since the tank stays empty after the first flushing the toilet, you should remove the toilet tank cover and fill it. Use paper towels to dry your bathroom if you spill some water while doing that.

Use a plastic spout on your water-tight container and fill the tank up to the marked line or 1 inch (2.5 cm) below the edge. How much water you will need for the flush will depend on the model of the toilet you have in your house.

If you have the American standard toilet, you will need approximately 1.5 to 2 gallons (5.7 – 7.6 l) of water per every flush. Some older models will probably require a few gallons more. That means that you may provide two to four flushing if you have an average container containing 5.5 gallons (20.8 l).

2. Pour Water into the Toilet Bowl

Things you need

  • Plastic bucket
  • Water
  • Paper towels


As I have already said, you can count on one flushing with water left in the toilet tank after its supply stops. The reason is the construction of your toilet.

After that, the best option for you is to use a bucket with 1 gallon (3.8 l) of water. If you haven’t any bucket, you can use a cup, as well. In that case, you should know that the gallon is equal to sixteen cups.

As soon as you find the bucket, you will need to look for a source of water. In some cases, you can find water in the bath or sink, especially if you live in the house or your apartment is on the first floor. Otherwise, you can ask your neighbor for help or to look for a nearby fountain, pool, lake, or pond.

If you don’t have any other solution, you should go to the local store and purchase jugs of 2 to 3 gallons (7.6 – 11.4 l). However, pouring jugs one by one is not a wise solution because you can’t get the necessary water pressure for flushing the toilet. You need to pour them into the bucket and add to the bowl at once.

After lifting the toilet seat and lid, you will get a larger opening to pour the water. However, always have paper towels prepared to absorb water that accidentally spills onto the bathroom floor.

If you are not sure if your drains are clogged, you should dump a small amount of water into the bowl first to check it. If you are sure that everything works well, you can skip this step and pour the full bucket into the toilet without hesitation. Your goal is to provide similar conditions as during a regular flush.

If you have already put an old towel around the bowl, there won’t be any splash, which you need to clean up. Otherwise, use paper towels to sort out the mess.

After that first manual flushing the bowl, you can repeat pouring one more gallon of water if it is necessary. Then, you should find a convenient spot near the toilet to place the bucket with a new amount of water for the next usage.

Common Reasons Why You Run Out of Water

Once you solve the problem of flushing the toilet without water, you should determine the reason why it won’t flush. It probably won’t be a big deal since the way your bathroom toilet plumbing works is quite simple. I will list the most common reasons why you may face this inconvenience.

There is no water source

There is no water source

When it happens that you run out of water in your bathroom, the first thing you should do is to check if it is a problem with your toilet or it is about the water source.

If there is no water supply for some reason, keep flushing the toilet with the bucket until water supply normalizes. In some regions, it can happen from time to time. If you live in one of them, always keep the bucket in the toilet for such a case.

Otherwise, you should check the other faucets to make sure if you have a water source in the house. If not, you should make a call and contact your local water source. They will know which issues are there with your water supply and how long they expect the problem will last.

If you have a well, you should find if there is enough water in it. Be aware that wells can dry up during the hot summer days, which will limit the amount of water you can get.

The tank can’t fill up with water

The tank can't fill up with water

If everything is all right with your water supply, you should look for the reason of lack of water in the bathroom. The first thing you should check is the water valve. If someone has turned it off by mistake, the tank can’t fill up with water. As a result, you won’t have water for flushing the toilet.

Also, the level of the water always needs to be above the overflow tube. Only that way, the tank can flush. If there is not enough water and it is below the overflow tube, you can solve the problem by replacing the valve.

Damaged flapper

Damaged flapper

The flapper is a part of the toilet, which allows water to flush from the tank to the bowl. However, you can expect that this piece gets damaged over time.

If it gets warped due to prolonged use, it will stop working correctly. As a result, it will be impossible to fill up the bowl with enough water. Go to the local store, purchase a new flapper, and install it by yourself.

Damaged overflow tube

Damaged overflow tube

If you see any cracks or tiny holes in the overflow tube, it can be one of the common reasons why there is no filling up the tank. If you are skillful enough, you can buy the new one and replace it.

Broken lift chain

Broken lift chain

The flapper is connected with a lift chain, which allows it to lift automatically after flushing the toilet. As a result, the tank will fill up with water.

If the lift chain breaks over time, that action will be impossible. Solve the problem by purchasing that particular piece in the local store and replacing the broken one.

Is It Possible to Flush the Toilet Without Electricity?

Losing power doesn’t have anything with plumbing. Therefore, you can flush your toilet even though the power goes out. Well, it is possible for a while because it will depend on the way the tank fills back up after a flush.

That means there may be some limitations in the number of times you can repeat this action. Why? The reason is the pump.

Without electricity, the pressure in the city water system drops and the main pump stops to work. If your local water system has no generator, you won’t be able to use your toilet too long without electricity. Also, without power, the pump drawing water from the well will stop working.


If you have adequate tools and basic knowledge of plumbing, you can finish most of these issues by yourself. Otherwise, you will need professional help. Don’t expect that damage to the internal mechanisms of your toilet disappears.

Once it occurs, it will get worse over time. The only solution is to call an expert plumber to assess which part of your toilet is damaged and solve the problem.

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