Typically a functioning toilet needs water to properly wash away your waste. Sometimes, you are in an unfortunate situation where you do not have water available, your power is off, or your toilet is not functioning properly.

Rather than allow yourself or someone else to have an embarrassing moment in the bathroom due to not knowing there is no running water in the bathroom, learn how to fix the problem when it happens.

If you are having an emergency and your toilet’s water is shut off for one reason or another, the best way to flush your toilet without water is to use a bucket of water to flush it. All you need to do is pour it directly into the toilet bowl. This should shove whatever is in the toilet through the pipes.

Flushing the Toilet When The Water is Off

Even if the water is off, your toilet should hold enough water to flush at least once. This is due to the fact that the tank will refill directly after it is used. This is called the “final flush”.

If someone else has already used the final flush, then you will need to take a different approach. This is great to know though in case this situation happens and you are caught in the bathroom!

Another good thing to know if that all your toilet needs is water in the tank. You do not need pressure, nor do you running water.

When you pull the handle, whatever is in the bottom of the toilet will flow through the flapper, and the top of the toilet will be emptied into the bowl. This results in flushing everything down the drain.

How To Flush A Toilet Without Running Water

Bathroom toilet plumbing doe not require a lot of pressure or running water to function. Essentially you want to imitate the actions that the tank takes on its own. As long as you have access to an alternative water source, there are a few methods to do this.

Pour Water into the Toilet Tank

Things You Need

  • Water-proof container
  • Water
  • Paper towels


  1. Remove the toilet tank cover.
  2. Find a source of liquid. It does not have to be water if it is an emergency and you do not have water available.
  3. Using a water-proof container put the liquid into your toilet tank.
  4. Use paper towels to dry your bathroom if you happen to spill water while doing this.
  5. Fill up the tank until it is 1 inch (2.5 cm) below the edge. 
  6. The amount of water you will need will depend on the type of toilet you have in your home.

Most modern toilets will need around 1.5 to 2 gallons of water per flush. Older models may need a few more gallons. 

Pour Water Into The Toilet Bowl

Things You Need

  • Plastic bucket
  • Water
  • Paper towels


  • Take a bucket or two of water. This can be from water bottles, your neighbor, or any other water that you can find.  
  • Make sure you have at least one gallon of water to pour directly into the toilet bowl.
  • Pour the water in slowly. Then you can quickly dump the rest of the water into the bowl.
  • When this occurs, the pressure from the water will push whatever is in the bowl, through the pipes.
  • Do not use the handle.
  • You do not need to empty the tank.

Reasons Why You Might Run Out Of Water

After solving your problem of flushing the toilet, you may want to understand why it is not flushing. One reason could be that your water is off, but there are also many other reasons that can cause this as well.

There Is No Water Source

This is the most common reason that your toilet is not flushing. The first thing you should do is check your toilet and see if the toilet is having an issue, or if it is the water source. If there is no water supply, then flush the toilet with a bucket until the water supply gets back to normal.

This can be normal in many areas. If you live somewhere that this happens often, keep a bucket on hand.

If you do not live somewhere where this happens often, then you should check the faucets and see if those are out of water as well.

If they are not working as well, you should make a call to find out what is going on with your water supply. You need to be prepared and know how long the problem will last.

If you live with a well as your source of water, go to check your well. Make sure that the well has not dried up on a hot day, as this is common.

The Tank is Not Able to Fill Up With Water

If everything is all right with your water supply, then the next step is to look for the reason that there is a lack of water coming into your bathroom. Check your water valve. This is located underneath the toilet.

If this has been turned off, then there will be no water heading to your toilet and it will not function. The level of the water should also always be above the overflow tube in order to flush. If this is not the case, then you may need to replace the valve. 

You Have a Damaged Flapper

The flapper is the part in your toilet that allows water to flush in from the tank to the bowl. This piece is made from plastic and can become damaged over time.

If it does become damaged after a long time of use, it may stop working. This will prevent you from having the bowl fill with water properly. The fix to this is to purchase a new flapper and install it.

You Have a Damaged Overflow Tube

If you see small holes or cracks on the overflow tube, then it may be the reason for your tank not filling up. If you are able to, purchase a new one to replace it.

Broken Lift Chain

In your toilet, the flapper is connected by a lift chain. This chain allows it to lift directly after flushing the toilet. After this occurs, the tank will fill up with water. Over time the lift chain can break. If this occurs you will no longer be able to flush the toilet. Solve this problem by replacing it.

Related Questions

Can I flush the toilet without electricity?

Depending on how your home is set up unless your water is directly tied to your electricity, typically losing power does not affect your plumbing. Despite this, the problem is that your pump will not work if the power is out.

Without electricity, your city water system drops, and the primary pump will no longer work. If your city has no generator, you won’t be able to use your toilet.

What type of water do I need to put into my toilet if the flush won’t work on its own?

If you do not have water coming from any part of your home, then you can use water or liquid from literally anything. Whether this is a stream, rainwater, a pool, or from your neighbor.