Can You Flush the Toilet When the Power is Out? – Answered

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Paulk Webb


Freddie J. Hagopian

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can you flush the toilet when the power is out

You want to know the things that are affected when the power is out. Your toilet will be one of your main concerns as it’s used daily. Can you flush the toilet when the power is out?

You can flush a toilet without power if you have a gravity-flush toilet; your toilet is connected to the city or municipal water and a well with a holding tank is your power source.

But it’s not always the case as there are upflush and smart toilets that need electricity to function. Learn more about why these things are enumerated by reading the rest of the article.

Can You Flush the Toilet During a Power Outage?


Do toilets work when the power is out? A power outage can happen when there are natural disasters like floods and storms. Luckily, you can still use the toilet when the power is out if you have the appropriate systems just like the following ones.

  • Situations where you can still flush your toilet even with a power outage

1. Gravity-fed

Gravity fed flush system works without power as it utilizes gravity to push the water down the drain. To make it work, the water tank is above the bowl so the water drops into the toilet with gravitational force.

When this happens, the water comes with pressure so the waste can be sent to the sewer. As long as the tank works properly, there’s no reason why you can’t use this toilet during a power outage.

Read more: Siphonic jet vs gravity-fed toilet: what is the difference?

2. You have a city or municipal water connection

If you have a city or municipal water connection, you don’t have to worry about flushing the toilet when the power is out. These water systems are consistent with providing water pressure even though the outage is extended. It’s possible since they have water towers and pump stations.

When you open the faucet in the bathroom, the water comes out because of pressure. It’s the same thing when you flush your toilet.

There are various residences in municipalities and cities. For instance, most households that are in small apartment buildings and single residential houses are connected to city water.

Therefore, the location and how high above the ground your house is are not an issue. The water pressure coming from a nearby water tower is enough for these households. Meanwhile, those who reside in tall buildings have their pump system as a support for the city water system.

Some buildings may have a small water reservoir on their rooftop. This reservoir is like their resident water tower that doesn’t only serve as a toilet. It can be for a shower and other water needs inside the house.

3. Well water

Although the well water is tricky, a power outage toilet flush is still possible. You’ll need to fetch the water with a bucket so you can flush your toilet. The toilet works with gravity when you do it but you have to make sure you use 1 to 1.5 gallons of water. You have to quickly and forcefully pour the water into the bowl to ensure you get rid of the waste.

Another thing that you can do if you have well water is to fill your toilet tank with water. It’s the same as the previous technique where you need to get water through a bucket. Once the water tank is full, you can press the handle or button to flush.

  • When can’t you flush the toilet when the water is off

Most American toilets have a gravity-fed sewer system that doesn’t require electricity. However, some opt for toilets that operate with electricity. These set-ups can’t work when there is a power outage.

4. Upflush or pump-based toilets

These toilets can pump waste and send it to the public sewer with the help of electricity. They are installed when the public sewer is above grade and you’ll likely find them in the basement plugged in a wall outlet.

Their water tank is placed on the top of the toilet so the water can drop. Collection of the waste in the macerator follows so it becomes slurry before being sent to the sewer. The macerator is at the back of upflush toilets.

When there’s no power, there’s no force that can push the waste to the sewer. If you keep using this type of toilet without power, the waste accumulates and may overflow if it exceeds the chamber’s capacity. It can be a disaster as sewage waste may find its way back to the basement.

These toilets are usually needed by people who live in steep areas overlooking beautiful scenery. Toilet installation is completed with a below-grade waste system.

5. Smart toilets

It can’t be denied that there is a heap of wonderful things that you can experience from a smart toilet. Thanks to advanced technology, it has a sensor that can detect your body movements.

After you finish your business, there’s a bidet that can wash your behind. It can also flush by itself. Sadly, these things are not activated if there’s a power outage. I can recommend smart toilets like TOTO NEOREST RH, EPLO smart toilet, and VOVO Stylement. Just get them if power interruption is not frequent in your area.

6. Tankless toilets

Just what the name suggests, this type of toilet doesn’t have a tank that can send the waste to the sewer. It’s only connected to an electric pump that provides a water supply with high pressure so you can flush your waste. Since it won’t work without electricity, it’s recommended to have a generator to deliver the needed power.

Read more: Tankless toilet vs tank toilet: what is the difference?

7. Septic system with effluent pump

You can’t flush the toilet during a power outage when your toilet works with this system. The role of an effluent pump is to transfer the waste from the tank to a treatment location or drain field.

Moreover, the septic tank can accommodate a few flushes. However, there are consequences, such as overfilling due to frequent flushing and nasty sewage return.

Ways to Prepare for Power Outages


It’s better to be prepared for power outages even if you have a connection to the city or municipal water and well water. This is a practical precaution when there’s an incoming storm. Anyway, you can use any water to flush your toilet so it’s not too demanding.

You can even collect rainwater while it’s pouring so you have water to flush your toilet. It’s not a bad move so there’s no reason not to do it. Here are more tips.

  • Filling the bathtub

Fill a bathtub with water as it has a lot of space for 42 gallons of water or more. It means you can store water that lets you flush your toilet numerous times.

  • Filling buckets

This is an option for you if you have a couple of buckets at home. A bucket that can store 5 gallons of water is good for three flushes. You have to be mindful when flushing your toilet with water from the bucket. Do it quickly so you can create a force that can surely flush down the waste.

  • Outside water

It won’t be hard to find water that you can use outside aside from rain. As mentioned, any type of water will work. You can get it from a swimming pool, backyard pond, or other water bodies.

  • Draining water from the water heater

Depending on its size, a water heater contains 20 to 60 gallons of water, which can make numerous flushes possible. You may use buckets and big containers when draining the water from a water heater. But you have to let it cool before flushing your toilet as water that is too hot can damage the toilet’s surface.

How Many Times Can You Flush a Toilet Without Power?


If you have gravity-fed toilets, you can flush them as often as you want even without power. They don’t depend on electricity so their functions persist. Without issues, they work well with water going down and their tanks get refilled for the next flush.

If you flush your toilet with a bucket, there’s no limit on flushing as long as you have enough water supply. You’ll need to make sure that the bucket has a gallon or 1.5 gallons of water. Two flushes are sometimes needed, especially with solid waste.

Ready to Sum Up!

Can you flush the toilet when the power is out? You have to know your toilet system to determine if you’ll be fine when there’s a power outage. With gravity-fed toilets, there’s no reason you can’t flush them.

It can also be done when you’re connected with the city or municipal water system and have well water. However, a power outage is a problem if you have upflush toilets, smart toilets, tankless toilets, or

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