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Can You Flush The Toilet When The Power Is Out?

Typically, toilets can flush without power.

Owning a home can come with a lot of ups and downs. Understanding how to maintain your home during difficult scenarios will allow you to save money. When the power goes out in your home, we often think that the only thing lost is the power to our appliances. Well, this includes the hot water heater, if it is electrical, and other necessary items for day-to-day usage. If your home systems operate exclusively on electricity, then conducting daily chores such as flushing a toilet might be difficult. Can you flush the toilet when the power is out? Yes and no. This depends on if your water source is fed electrically through your home.

Let’s take a look below at some more details regarding flushing your toilet when the power is out.

How Does A Toilet Work?

Homeowners should understand how their plumbing and other home systems work. This includes knowing the ins and outs of flushing a toilet and how the toilet works. As you push the lever down, water is released into the bowl. This pressure pushes everything that is in the bowl, out into the main drain line. As this occurs, the toilet tank is then refilled with water from the water supply line that is connected to the back of the tank. A rubber stopper is dropped into the tank to keep the new water in the tank until it is needed for the next flush. Toilets will flush as long as there is water.

Flushing a toilet should be easy even without power.

When Can I Flush My Toilet During A Power Outage?

Flushing your toilet will occur when the power is out if you have the following setup.

  • Gravity-flush toilets – These are standard toilets installed in most homes. As long as water is flowing into the tank, you will be able to flush the toilet. Additionally, the power being out has no bearing if the bowl loses water and the tank refills.
  • Municipal water – Living in a large community will provide you with water for your plumbing from much larger water tanks. The local water sewage treatment plans will always have backup generators to keep the power going. This allows the water pressure to remain stabilized.
  • Well-water – Losing power means your well pump will not work. However, flushing the toilet should not be a problem. The well has water tanks that store enough water in your system for a couple of days. Although your water pressure might change, access to the water should not.

When Will I Not Be Able To Flush My Toilet In A Power Outage?

Flushing your toilet when the power is out will be problematic if you have the following setup.

  • Septic system – Having a septic system with an effluent pump that transfers waste from the tank to a drain field or area that is elevated higher than the tank will be a problem. When the power goes out, the pump stops working and will not be able to flush your system. This absence of transfer will cause a backup and possible overflow of sewage into your drain field and home.
  • Upflush toilets – These types of toilets plug into a wall outlet and operate using macerating blades and a pump. The blades and pump transfer the waste into the sewer line. If there is no power, this toilet will not work. In most cases, this type of toilet is only found in the basement or areas of the home that are far away from the main sewer line.
  • Apartments – If you live in an apartment building and lose power, you could lose water access. The apartment building will have a pump that helps circulate the water throughout the building. Without power, the pump will not work. However, you can bring in buckets of water from other sources to flush your toilets. The toilets still work, you just might not have water from the water line.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you know if you can flush a toilet during a power outage you can begin reading up on what causes a toilet to overflow. Having this information will go hand-in-hand as you determine how to use your toilets during a power outage.

Next, if you invest in an older home, you will want to get an idea of the issues that might arise when owning an older home. Reading up on things like, what plumbing issues arise in older homes allows you to budget for future repairs after you have purchased this older home.

Lastly, if you are experiencing low-water pressure, this could also cause you to not be able to properly flush the toilet. So, regardless of the power situation, low-water pressure could cause more issues. Make sure you read up on how to fix low-water pressure situations in your home.

Losing power will shut down a lot of the systems in your home, however, the plumbing should still work.

When Do I Call A Professional?

Losing power is usually not something in your control. However, if you have a plumbing system that works with electricity to circulate your waste out of the home, you will want to call on a professionally licensed electrician to assist. In some cases, the circuit breaker could be bad and is getting tripped for a variety of reasons. Ensuring that you have a backup power source might be a good idea if you need the power to flush your toilets. Additionally, call on your local home inspection team. They can inspect your plumbing and electrical system during a full home inspection.


When it comes to plumbing systems, understanding how the one in your home works is important. Not all homes are made to be equal and in some cases, older homes have older plumbing systems. Having a plumbing system that relies on electricity could be problematic. Call on your local home inspection team to inspect the plumbing system and determine what your situation is. Also, they can refer a reputable master plumbing to assist with any recommended upgrades. This allows you to avoid issues with your plumbing in the future. Reach out to ACE Preferred Inspections for a sewer scope, during a full home inspection in the low country of South Carolina