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How to Flush Toilets Without Water

Few things in life are as dependable as a toilet. You walk in, do your business, pull the lever, and somehow the magical toilet gets rid of the waste. It’s one of those things in life that we don’t think twice about.

Until, that is, it stops working.

Now, granted, if your house is without water for whatever reason, the last thing on your mind would probably be the toilet. Main water shutoffs usually indicate a bigger problem, such as during a pipe repair or a burst on one of the city’s pipes that shut down an entire block.

But regardless of the situation, when you need to answer nature’s call, you need your toilet to be reliable.

How a Toilet Works in Less than 150 Words

Toilets are not overly complicated.

The vertical part on the back is called the “tank,” and the water from the pipes fills that up directly.

When you flush the toilet, the water that is in the bowl goes down the main pipe, and the water that is in the tank then moves into the bowl.

After the little lid on the inside closes back down, the float rod (long arm thingy) sinks down, triggering the release valve on the water and refilling the tank. 

What this means for you, is that in the event your water goes out, you should have at least one flush still waiting for you in the tank. Use it wisely.

What Can You Do?

The beautiful thing about toilets is that they’re remarkably non-technological. Roughly the same design and operation has been around for over 400 years.

You don’t need electricity; all you need is gravity and access to some kind of water, somehow. It doesn’t really even matter what kind of water it is, since it’s all going down the toilet anyway.

If you have to use that last flush and your tank is empty, all you have to do is fill it back up with water. Then, you’ll be able to flush the toilet like normal and fill it up again for another reuse.

If you know you’re going to be without water for a few hours (or days), buy some water ahead of time to keep on hand. Many homeowners will also choose to fill up a tub with water to use for the time being. Or, some use water from their swimming pool.

Life without a running toilet is inconvenient, but it doesn’t have to be a stage four emergency. With a little prep work, or even a quick trip to the grocery store, you’ll be able to keep your toilet operational.

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