How to Manually Flush Toilet Without Running Water, Handle, or Broken Chain

For a toilet to function properly, water should always be available such that each time you flush the toilet tank quickly refills itself ready for the next flush. However, this isn’t always the case as your home might run out of water or the toilet might be broken in that you can’t flush it in the normal way.

When the tank is not working, you can manually flush toilet by pouring a bucket of water directly into the bowl to wash away the waste down into the drains. If your tank is okay but it lacks water, simply pour water into it from a different supply and flush. If there’s water supply but the arm lever is broken pull up the chain in your tank.  If the chain is broken or stuck try to pull the rubber flapper to allow release of water into the bowl.

Whichever the case, you will still need water to flush your toilet. It is almost impossible to flush a toilet without water supply. It is the water that will dissolve the waste and make it easy to flow down the trap into the pipes.

Following are details on the steps to follow when the water supply to your toilet is shut or when your handle is not working or the tank has issues from inside.

Method#1 The Bucket Method: Pour Water Direct into the Bowl.

This method is ideal if your tank is broken or faulty. Of course, the most obvious fix is to repair or replace the broken tank but you may not be in a position to do so. All you need is to directly pour the water into the toilet bowl.

Pouring a bucket of water into bowl to flush toilet
Bucket method

Generally, you need between one to two gallons of water for every time you flush the toilet. How much water for a manual flush will depend on the type of toilet and the amount of waste in your bowl…more waste will require more water. You may also need more water if your toilet is already clogged.


  1. You need gloves, goggles or some means to cover your face and at least one bucket with at least two gallons of water.
  2. Cover your hands and face.
  3. Start pouring the water into the toilet bowl then increase the speed to create enough pressure to flush the toilet.
  4. If a gallon doesn’t work with your type of toilet, continue adding water until you get to know what amount works for your type of toilet. If there’s a clog, deal with it immediately.

Method#2 Manually Filling the Tank with Water from another Source

One other way to flush the toilet when there’s no running water is filling up the toilet tank with water from another source then flushing it in the normal way. This ideal when your tank is working properly but water supply is shut off.

You can use just about any source of water for this method including from the swimming pool, pond or well provided it’s not muddy water that will mess up your toilet.

Depending on the model of the toilet you have in your possession, the amount of water needed to fill up the toilet tank will differ. Some toilets will take about one and a half gallons while others might take much more or even less.


  1. With a bucket collect the water from a source of your choice.
  2. Start by removing the lid of the toilet tank.
  3. Pour the water into the tank until the level marked MAX or FULL. You can also just pour it until it’s 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the edge of the tank. Don’t fill the tank with water until it overflows as it’ll be a waste of it.
  4. After filling the tank to your liking, flush it the normal way after using the toilet. It’s just easier to have filled up the toilet before using it to keep things tidy. As long as there is no running water, you can keep the toilet tank’s lid off for more refills.

Method#3-Flushing Toilet Manually Without Handle.

A faulty handle may be broken, loose, stuck up, and hard to push down or stays down and doesn’t spring up. If you have no means to repair or replace the handle immediately, you will have to flush manually without the arm lever by pulling the chain/or rod that connects the handle and flapper.

Steps to flush a toilet without a handle
Faulty Arm lever

Here are the steps to follow.

  1. Open up the toilet water tank to access the interior.
  2. Locate the chain or rod that connects to the flapper
  3. Grab and pull up on chain and release. That is, it. Temporarily you can leave that lid off until you do a permanent fix.

Another workaround, if only the handle has broken or fallen off, is to grip the stub it was on using a plier-like tool. If you have a small ‘vice-grip’ type of plier, squeeze it on and leave it to act as a temporary handle.

Be cautious not to crush the teeth on the stub, you will most likely want to still fit a brand new handle.

The other option is to try the bucket method in outlined above or use the method up next below.

Note that it will depend on the type of toilet in your household. Some toilet types come with flush buttons instead of arm levers…they may require different fixes.

Method#4 Flush Manually from Inside the Tank (Broken Chain)

This method is ideal if there’s water supply to your tank the chain that connects to lever to the flapper is stuck or broken. All you need is to locate the flapper and pull it up.

How to manually flush toilet from inside tank
Inside tank parts

The rubber flapper in your toilet tank plays a vital role in your toilet flushing. If the chain is broken, the flapper can help. Before you replacing the chain, you can try pulling it up manually to flush the toilet.

To do this:

  1. Remove the toilet tank lid.
  2. Locate the flapper; it is usually seated at the bottom of the tank.
  3. Lift the flapper up to release the water from the tank.

The bucket method is another alternative. Simply pour a bucket of water directly into the bowl as outline in method#1 above.

All the methods above can help to flush your toilet manually but you should treat them as temporary fixes. Replacing or repairing the faulty parts is the best and long-term solution. Do not be afraid to seek help from pro plumber in your local area.

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