Can You Clear Out a Toilet With a Bucket of Water?

If your toilet isn't clearing itself out after a flush, then you may suspect that there is a blockage in the system. Toilet water that sits too low after a flush or that rises too high without draining away can both be signs that something is sticking down in the pan or in the pipes.

While some blocked toilets are hard to fix, some are easier. Sometimes, you might be able to clear a small blockage with just a bucket of water. This fix involves tipping a bucket of warm water into the toilet pan quickly from a height.

When should you try this fix and when shouldn't you?

Times When a Bucket of Water Might Work

When you tip a bucket of warm water down a toilet from up high, you force water into the toilet at a higher pressure than the toilet's flush. The water pushes into the toilet pan and down the pipes with some force.

If you have a small movable blockage, then this extra force may put enough power into the water to push the blockage through or even break it up. So, for example, if someone has simply loaded too much toilet paper down the pan and you can't wait for it to break up naturally, the bucket of water trick may work.

You need to consider your water levels here. If the toilet water disappears down the drain leaving the pan virtually empty after a flush, then adding a larger volume of water into the pan may not do any harm. Same goes if your water level returns to normal after waiting a while.

Times When a Bucket of Water Might Not Work

There are times when tipping water down a blocked toilet isn't such a great idea. For example, if your pan has been gradually filling up after you've flushed it a few times to try to clear it, then this may not be the right fix.

If the water in your pan is a lot higher than usual and isn't draining away at all, then adding more water to the toilet may get messy. Even water with more pressure might not be able to push through the standing water to get to the blockage. You may simply make the toilet overflow onto the floor.

If a bucket of water fix doesn't work or if you aren't sure about trying it, then you'll be better off calling a plumber. They have the experience to know which solution to use to safely provide blocked toilet repair without causing too much of a mess.