When you flush your toilet, the bowl should fill with water. If it doesn’t, there is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. Toilet bowls are designed to hold about 1 gallon of water at all times. Too little water flowing to the toilet bowl won’t wash the wastes down the drain and can lead to clogs.
A toilet bowl doesn’t fill with water after flushing due to a poorly adjusted float, a faulty overflow tube or flapper, clogged toilet bowl jets, or a closed shutoff valve. Fix or replace the toilet float, overflow tube, and flapper. Turn on the shutoff valve and unclog the toilet bowl jets.
Why is my toilet bowl not filling with water after flushing?
Some of the reasons why the toilet bowl won’t fill up with water when the toilet is flushed include the following:
Poorly adjusted toilet float
If the toilet bowl fills slowly or doesn’t fill at all, one reason is too little water in the toilet tank. This can be caused by a poorly adjusted toilet float. If the flapper is adjusted such that it lets into the tank very little water, you won’t have enough water to fill the toilet bowl when you flush it. The toilet tank holds enough water to fill the toilet bowl in one flush.
Faulty overflow tube
If the overflow tube on your toilet bowl is faulty, it can be the reason why water isn’t filling up after you flush. Faulty overflow tubes are usually caused by debris clogging them or being misplaced inside of the tube itself.
With every flush, the refill tube will deliver water straight to the toilet bowl. Make sure the tube is delivering water directly into the overflow pipe and is set on a clip above the pipe. It shouldn’t be inserted into the pipe as it will instead siphon the water causing a phantom flush.
Faulty flapper valve
Another problem that may prevent the toilet bowl from filling up with water is a faulty or broken flapper valve. This means that the flapper may be stuck such that flushing the toilet doesn’t open it up enough. In such a case, very little water will flow to the toilet bowl.
The plunger lift chain may also be too long which prevents the flapper seat from opening up properly against the overflow pipe inlet. This lets little to no water from the tank to the toilet bowl. The plunger lift chain is part of the toilet trip assembly.
Clogged toilet bowl jets
If the jets on the toilet bowl are clogged, then water will not be able to enter the bowl after flushing. Clogged jets are usually caused by tiny items like toilet paper or toys entering the tank and getting stuck in the jet openings. Hard water sediments also clog up toilet bowl jets.
Broken fill tube seal inside the tank
A break at one end of the rubber-like plastic tubing connecting to your water supply can result in no water entering your toilet tank after each flush. A worn washer should also be replaced immediately since it will eventually cause damage to internal parts of the mechanism and stop the proper flow of incoming water into the tank as well.
Low inlet pressure into the toilet tank
Another issue is low inlet pressure into the toilet tank. Low inlet pressure will cause the toilet tank to not fill up with water after a flush. Toilet tanks operate by balancing incoming household water pressure from your home’s plumbing system and siphon action within the bowl itself.
This is why, even if you have enough pressure on paper, it may still be too little for proper refilling of higher-than-average usage toilets (i.e.: commercial restrooms). If this isn’t corrected, then either an air gap or backflow preventer device must be installed so that no cross-contamination between potable and nonportable sources occurs via lines carrying both supplies at once.
Plumbing issues outside the tank
There may be a problem with your flushing mechanism if you hear a gurgling sound after each flush or multiple flushes are required to properly get rid of wastes from the bowl. You should also check for any leaks in pipes, faucets, and valves that could lead to loss of water in the system.
Poor alignment between the fill tube and float ball arm can result in incomplete draining away of wastewater from inside the tank. It’s important not to ignore such problems because they will eventually affect how well your toilet performs over time as well as its longevity.
The shutoff valve isn’t open
The shutoff valve to the toilet may be stuck in the CLOSED position which will prevent any more water from flowing into the toilet. The shutoff valve can be found either under your tank or behind your bowl. The handle is typically located on the outside of these valves and you’ll need to turn it counterclockwise until it’s open again.
How to fix a toilet that won’t fill
If the toilet bowl won’t fill or fills slowly, the solutions are as follows:
Adjust the toilet float mechanism
You need to adjust the float mechanism to raise the water level. Adjusting it will allow more water into the toilet tank which will in turn fill it up when flushed.
For float balls, simply bend the float arm upwards slightly to allow in more water. If it’s made of plastic and can’t bend, turn the screw connecting the float arm to the fill valve in a clockwise direction to let in more water. Punctured float balls should be replaced right away.
If the float mechanism is a float cup, find the adjustment screw on the float then turn it in a clockwise manner to allow in more water.
Replace the toilet fill valve
If the fill valve or the fill tube is an issue and can’t be fixed right away, the solution is to replace it with a new one. Replace the fill valve with a new one by first turning off the water supply to the toilet and draining all of the existing water from it. Replace the whole valve at once or just one part if that is what must be done to fix your problem immediately.
At times, the fill valve may just be dirty with the holes clogged with debris. Simply remove it then clean it in a diluted solution of white vinegar. Rinse it then refit it into the toilet tank.
Unclog the toilet bowl jets
This problem can easily be fixed with a bent coat hanger or a small wire. However, when it’s caused by toys or other objects in the tank, these items will need to be removed before the jets can unclog. It is best if you drain your entire tank before doing so.
If this does not fix the issue, then you may have an issue with one of two parts: either a clogged flush valve or a bad Flushometer fill tube assembly. The clog could potentially be found inside any part of this system, including but not limited to:
- The Fill Valve Assembly
- Fill Tube from Tank to Bowl
- Main Control/Cock Assembly on Top of Tank
- Flush Valve Assembly on Back of Closet Bowl.
If you have a tank with the flush valve assembly located behind the bowl, it can be accessed by removing your toilet seat and flushing handle.
Replace the toilet flapper
You need to check if the flapper is working properly. Replace it with a new one, and see for yourself that your toilet starts to fill up again.
To replace the toilet flapper, you need to do the following:
- Turn off the water supply to your toilet.
- Flush the toilet and remove as much water from it as you can.
- Disconnect any supplies that are attached to your old flapper. This includes a chain, wire, or rubber hose, depending on how yours is set up. This will be something like a flexible tube that attaches at one end of your tank’s overflow pipe and at one end of your flapper valve (i.e., where it fits over the top of the flush valve hole). The other ends should now be free for disconnection once you have removed all necessary screws or nuts holding them in place. These connections may require some wiggling and pulling to break free.
- Replace the old flapper with a new one from your local hardware store or home improvement center. You should be able to find these for sale as part of kits containing other replacement parts, such as those needed for water supply line connections that may have deteriorated over time (e.g., nuts and washers). Just make sure you get an exact match. Don’t substitute another type of connection system unless it matches what you already had installed on your toilet tank.
- Reconnect everything. Connect all the hoses and attach them back to their respective pipes using any necessary screws or nuts. Replace the valve cover/flap lid by sliding its hinges into place then the chain or hose clamp if you had one. Replace the tank lid and any decorative caps or lids you may have on your toilet’s flush handle, supply line shut-off valves, or overflow tube/pipe (if applicable).
- Turn the water back on to fill up your new flapper valve with fresh water.
- Flush your toilet to check for leaks or other problems that may have developed during this process, then take a look at what you just flushed down it to see if everything went through okay (i.e., did the flapper valve close again after each flush?).
If there are leaks or the toilet bowl doesn’t fill with water when you flush, repeat these steps until all is working properly – and enjoy using your new toilet once more.
Clean or replace the overflow tube
If this is the case with your toilet bowl, there are some things that you can do to help fix this issue.
- Clear out the tube using a wire hanger.
- Dispose of any excess debris in the tank at bottom of the bowl.
- Flush and carefully clean out debris on sides of the bowl.
- Replace the overflow tube by simply pulling it off then inserting the new one in place.
If the overflow tube is still clogged after trying these steps, it might be time to call a plumber.
Fix any leaks on the toilet
If there are any leaks on the toilet, it could be why your toilet bowl does not fill with water after you flush. Fixing any leaks on the toilet will fix this problem and allow your tank to start filling up again.
The leaks may occur on the tank, flapper, fill valve, shutoff valve, and other parts of the toilet each with its own method to fix. If the leak comes from a joint in the toilet, tighten it and replace any worn-out washers or gaskets. If it comes from the body of the toilet such as the side of the toilet tank, patch it up depending the tank’s material.
If there are no visible leaks or other problems in the bathroom (such as a clogged vent), then it’s another problem.
Open the shutoff valve
If the shutoff valve is closed and can open, simply turn it in a counterclockwise manner till it opens up. Some shutoff valves work through a pull and push mechanism instead of the typical turning mechanism. To open them, simply push the valve. If it’s stuck or damaged in any way, replace the shutoff valve with a new one.
Clean the toilet tank
You should also get rid of sediment build-up on the tank bottom that keeps fresh water from entering into the bowl after each flush by using special chemicals available at most hardware stores. For heavy-duty cleaning, you can remove the entire unit and soak it inside a bucket full of water with detergent in it for a while. Cleaning the toilet tank is quite easy and should be done at least once per month.
Call a professional plumber
The last solution is to call a plumber when none of the above options work. After the plumber’s visit, you should have no problems using your toilet bowl. If there are any issues left unresolved after taking care of them by yourself or through professional help, don’t hesitate to call another expert.
Toilet bowl water level recedes
The toilet bowl keeps a small amount of water which acts as a seal between the sewer and your house. This water keeps sewer gases at bay.
At times, the level of water in the toilet bowl may recede, exposing you to sewer gases in the process. Receding water in the toilet bowl is caused by the following:
A clog in the drainage system
The clog will bring about an imbalance in the pressure in the sewage system thus sucking the water in the bowl towards the sewer.
Unclog the toilet using various methods including a plunger or without one.
Evaporation from the toilet bowl
If the toilet has not been used for a while, the water in the toilet’s P-trap will reduce through evaporation.
Ensure you flush the toilet at least once every week to replenish the water in the toilet bowl and keep sewer gases away.
Blocked vent pipes
When the vent pipes are blocked, there will be an imbalance in the pressure in the sewage system. The water in the toilet bowl will either recede when there’s low pressure in the pipes, or rise when there’s too much pressure in the pipes. The blockage may be accompanied by a gurgling toilet.
Check for the clog in the vent pipe with a torch and pole then poke away at the clog to restore the water level in the toilet bowl.
Cracked toilet bowl that lets water out
When the toilet bowl is cracked, the water in the toilet bowl will slowly leak to the floor thus reducing in amount.
Replace the toilet seat since you can’t repair cracked toilet seats especially the ones made of porcelain or enamel. You can, in the meantime, seal the crack with a silicone sealant though this is a temporary fix.
Loose or worn-out flange and wax ring
The flange and wax ring provide an air- and water-tight seal between the toilet seat and the opening to the sewer line. When loose or worn out, water will leak from the toilet bowl onto the floor or subfloor.
Tighten the bolts holding the toilet seat to the floor. If this doesn’t work, remove the toilet seat and either adjust or replace the wax ring then refit the toilet seat.
Dangers of too little water in the toilet bowl
When the water level in the toilet bowl is too low, the dangers include the following:
Sewer smell indoors
First, the little water in the bowl fails to trap sewer games that will enter the house as a result of this. The danger of sewer gas is significant. Sewer gases contain hydrogen sulfide, which has a strong odor and can be poisonous in high concentrations. They may also include methane, which is flammable if it accumulates around an ignition source such as pilot lights or open flames.
Poor wash away effect
When water is flushed from the toilet tank, it mixes with the water in the bowl and carries away the waste. There can’t be any washaway effect without water in the bowl.
You should have a clear idea as to why the toilet bowl may not fill with water when you flush the toilet. Luckily, the fixes are quite simple and only when none of them works should you call for a plumber.