How to Fix a Toilet That Swirls but Won’t Flush -

4 Easy Solutions For When Your Toilet Swirls But Won’t Flush

Written by

Jason Carter

4 Easy Solutions For When Your Toilet Swirls But Won’t Flush


When you flush your toilet, water should run from the toilet tank into the bowl, taking the contents of the toilet down the drain.

Needless to say:

Many people can relate to how unpleasant it is when you try to flush, and the water only swirls without truly flushing your toilet.

Good news:

If you are in this situation, you don’t have to panic because most of the possible causes of your toilet not flushing come with very easy fixes that you can do yourself.


Let us go through these potential causes and their solutions.


Toilet Swirls But Won’t Flush

If water swirls in your toilet when you pull the flush lever but does not flush, the most likely cause could be that the toilet’s inlet holes are clogged. Other common causes include a damaged flapper and clogged drainpipe. Also, your toilet will not flush if the water level in the tank is low.

toilet swirl but wont flush

1. Check If The Toilet Inlet Holes Are Blocked

First off:

The toilet inlet holes are located just under the ring of your toilet bowl. They are also known as rim or siphon holes.When you flush, water comes out from the inlet valve through the holes and into the bowl.

The thing is:

After a long period of using your toilet, these inlet holes begin to get clogged due to mineral deposits or dirt.


If the inlet holes of your toilet are clogged or blocked, the water pouring out from the toilet tank through these holes loses the required volume or pressure, and your toilet won’t flush properly.


This is an easy fix!

All you need to do is get a bowl of heated vinegar. It is advisable to heat the vinegar to at least 120 degrees.


You can use a funnel to pour the heated vinegar down the overflow tube inside the toilet tank and wait for at least an hour.

After this:

You should use a wire or an Allen wrench to clean the holes. The vinegar would have softened the clogs so they would be easy to remove.


Flush your toilet to remove the clogs completely, and your toilet should work perfectly at this point.


It is recommended to invest in a water softener system as they help in preventing clogs that are mostly caused by the mineral deposits found in hard water.

That’s it!

2. Adjust Low Water Level In The Tank

Toilet Water Tank Level


Your toilet requires a certain volume of water before it can flush properly. If the level of water in the toilet tank is very low, then the flush will not be strong enough to force water down the bowl and into the drain.


Manufacturers leave a mark in the toilet bowl indicating the appropriate amount of water that should be in the tank to ensure that your toilet flushes properly. If the water in your toilet tank is below that mark, then it is low and needs to be adjusted.


The level of water in the tank of your toilet is determined by the position of the float ball. If the float ball is set low, the water level in the tank will be low.


You can increase the water level in your toilet tank easily without spending too much time on it.

The first thing you should do is:

Carefully remove the lid of the toilet and then put it aside.

After that:

Empty the water in the toilet tank by turning off the water valves at the mains and then flushing the toilet till all the water in the tank is gone.


You should turn the screw on the stem of the float ball in a counter-clockwise direction using a screwdriver. However, if the stem of your float ball is metal, you can also adjust it by slightly bending the arms of the float ball upwards.


If you open the lid of the tank of your toilet to discover water inside the float ball, it is damaged, and you will have to replace it.

Replacing the float ball of your toilet tank is a simple task that does not require any special skills. You can also follow the steps below for guidance on how to carry out this repair.

  • Step 1: Empty the tank by shutting off the main water supply valve and flushing your toilet.
  • Step 2: Place a small bowl under the toilet in case of water spillage.
  • Step 3: Carefully lift the lid off the toilet tank and use an adjustable wrench to uninstall the mounting nuts holding the float ball assembly in place.
  • Step 4: Take out the old float ball assembly.
  • Step 5: Insert the fill valve into the hole at the tank’s baseand hold it in place by using the mounting nut.
  • Step 6: Align the float arm socket and screw the float ball in place
  • Step 7: Bend the refill tube to fit inside the overflow pipe.
  • Step 8: Reattach the water supply line by securing the supply line and the mounting nut together.
  • Step 9: Turn the water supply back on.

Pro Tip:

Ensure that you tighten all loose connections to avoid leaks.

…and you’re good to go!

3. Unclog The Drain Pipe

Get this:

The drain pipe is the channel in which the waste from the toilet bowl goes into the sewer when you flush.


If your toilet’s drain pipe is clogged, the water will slowly move past the obstruction causing it to swirl instead of flush. If you do not address this problem quickly, the drain pipe could be completely blocked.

You can clear up a clogged drain pipe by following these simple steps

  • Step 1: Fill a bucket with water, and ensure that the bucket is big enough to fill your toilet bowl.
  • Step 2: Slowly pour the water from the bucket into the toilet bowl.
  • Step 3: Completely immerse your plunger into the toilet bowl, and make sure that the plunger is completely covered.
  • Step 4: Use the plunger to plunge the toilet. The water in the toilet bowl should start to reduce if this works.


You can use a toilet snake or auger to unclog your toilet’s drain pipe.

At this point:

If neither option works, it means that the clog is deeply embedded inside the pipe. You should call a professional plumber to help out or contact customer support for your toilet’s model.

Pro Tip:

You should ensure that objects like paper clips, pins, and hair do not get into your toilet to avoid constant clogging in the drain pipe.

Easy peasy!

4. Replace Damaged Flapper

Toilet Flapper


The flapper is the component of the toilet that controls the flow of water from the tank to the toilet bowl. When you flush your toilet, the flapper opens up and allows water from the tank to flow into the bowl through the inlet holes.


If the flapper of your toilet is damaged or worn from use, it will close too quickly and interrupt the water flow. When that happens, the water entering the toilet bowl will not be sufficient to flush your toilet completely.

The thing is:

Aside from the flapper being damaged or faulty, the chain connecting the flapper to the floating ball might be too short. In both cases, you’d have to replace the flapper.

The good part is:

This is a relatively simple repair, and you can get the appropriate flapper for your toilet in almost any departmental store at an affordable price.


In some cases, the chain attached to the flapper could be tangled, and all you have to do is disentangle it,and your toilet is back to normal.


You can check if the flapper is faulty by dropping food coloring into the toilet tank and inspecting the bowl for colored water. If you notice any in the bowl, your toilet’s flapper is faulty and needs to be replaced.

You can easily replace the flapper with the aid of the following steps:

  • Step 1: Carefully remove the lid of the toilet’s tank
  • Step 2: Turn off the main water supply valve and empty the tank by manually lifting the flapper and letting the water drain into the bowl.
  • Step 3: Detach the lift chain from the flush lever and pull out the flapper valve.
  • Step 4: Install the new flapper.
  • Step 5: Replace the lid of the toilet and turn on the water supply valves.


If the lift chain is too long, you can adjust it by removing the chain and putting it in a hole that is closer to the flush lever.

Simple right? You can now flush your toilet with ease.



Everyone is familiar with going to the toilet to do their business and then pulling the flush lever to allow the toilet to dispose of whatever waste content was deposited into it.

That being said:

It could be very inconvenient and unsanitary forthese waste contents to simply sit in the toilet bowl even after flushing.

But here’s the silver lining:

If your toilet is swirling and not flushing properly, you can follow these troubleshooting guides to get your toilet working perfectly again.

Believe it or not:

Most of these fixes are very easy and can be done by anyone with little to no professional experience. In most cases, you won’t need to spend money on getting a replacement part or hiring a professional.


If your toilet isn’t flushing properly, you can

  • Inspect the inlet holes for clogs and use heated vinegar to soften the mineral deposits
  • Adjust the water level by turning the screw counter-clockwise
  • Replace the float ball if it’s damaged and there’s water inside it
  • Plunge the toilet to remove objects clogging the drain pipe


You can check the pipes connected to your toilet to ensure that they are the appropriate width and size needed for your toilet to flush properly.


We would love to hear your thoughts and any feedback on what solution worked for you.

You can leave your comments or suggestions in the comment box below!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Fix A Toilet That Swirls But Won’t Flush?

If your toilet swirls but doesn’t flush, you have to perform a few diagnostic checks to pinpoint exactly where the issue is. If the problem is a clogged inlet hole, you can easily clear the clogs by pouring heated vinegar inside the toilet’s tank. Additionally, you can replace the flapper if damaged, adjust the length of the lift chain, increase the water level, and unclog the drain pipe with a plunge.

Why Won’t My Toilet Flush But It Isn’t Clogged?

If your toilet is not clogged but still doesn’t flush, it is most likely that the water level in your toilet’s tank is low and should be adjusted.Other possible causes include a damaged or bent flapper and a loose lift chain.

Why Does The Toilet Water Keep Spinning?

The float ball in your tanker has been set too high. In that case, you have to lower it. You could also check if the fill valve is working or if the flapper is bad.

What To Do When Toilet Fills Up But Won’t Flush?

You can use a plunger or a toilet auger to unclog any obstructions in the drain pipe. You can also use heated vinegar to clear out the clogs in the toilet inlet holes. Finally, replace any damaged parts responsible for the problem.

Leave a Comment