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Toilet Won’t Flush In Cold Weather: Causes and Solutions

Did you know that pipes are more likely to burst in the winter regardless of freezing? Winter is a tricky time for homeowners, and you may find that your toilet won’t flush in cold weather.

If you’re struggling to get your toilet to work in the winter, read on to learn about why your toilet won’t flush and how to fix the problem!

Toilet Won’t Flush In Cold Weather

Why Won’t My Toilet Flush?

There are several reasons your toilet isn’t flushing in cold weather. The primary cause of this issue is cold or frozen pipes. However, damaged pipes and low water pressure may also be the culprit. To fix this problem, you may need to thaw your pipes, check for clogs, fill the reservoir, or call a plumber.

Here is more information about the causes of a toilet that won’t flush (see also ‘Is Your Toilet Hard To Flush?‘).

Cold Pipes

As winter hits, temperatures dip down. In many places, temperatures may drop low enough to freeze or ice over the pipes. Even if temperatures don’t quite reach freezing, the pipe’s location, composition, and surroundings may cause freezing temperatures.

When this occurs, the water in your pipes moves slower and can turn to ice. The insides of the pipe may frost over, freezing some but not all of the water. 

This process causes a significant drop in the water flow’s pressure and makes it so the water may not flow at all.

When your pipes freeze, all you can do is wait for them to unthaw. There are ways that you can try to fix it, though these are not without risk. You also can consider contacting a professional.

Low Pressure Due to Temperature Drop

As the temperatures drop, this can cause a lowering of pressure in your pipes. But ice doesn’t always cause low pressure.

If you’re checking the pressure of your tires, you may find that cold weather makes the pounds per square inch (PSI) rating drop. The same is true for your pipes, as the cold weather will naturally lower pressure. But why does this impact your toilet?

With low pressure in the pipes, your toilet may struggle to get enough water. The reservoir may fail to fill, or the water may take considerably longer to reach it. It also may fail to flow at all, rendering your toilet dry.

Damaged Pipes

Your pipes can suffer issues without being frozen. The cold weather will cause many pipes to struggle, shrinking and becoming more brittle. If a pipe freezes over on the outside without the water inside freezing, this can cause the pipes to crack or split.

These leaks will lower water pressure and stop your toilet from getting the proper amount of water. This problem can also cause severe leaks or other damage, depending on where the pipe bursts.

There’s also the risk of the pipes freezing and bursting completely. As the water inside the pipe freezes, the ice expands, which may fill more room than the pipe can offer.

Damaged Pipes

When this occurs, the ice may cause the pipe to rupture entirely. A pipe that’s burst in this manner is much more tricky to repair and may need a total replacement. You likely won’t be able to do this yourself, so you’ll need a professional’s aid.

If you find water leaking from areas you wouldn’t expect, it could prove that a burst pipe was the problem. 

How To Fix

Now that you know some of the many causes of your toilet not flushing in cold weather, what are the fixes? Unfortunately, these problems are often difficult to fix, and you may need professional repairs.

Read on to learn how to fix these toilet issues.

Thaw Pipes

If your pipes have frozen over, thawing is one of the best ways to fix them. This process can be difficult, as you usually can’t reach all your bathroom plumbing.

One method that people often use is to flush warm or hot water down the toilet. The warmer water will flow through the pipes, helping to thaw them with their higher temperature. 

This method is effective for frosted pipes but may not work for pipes that are completely frozen.

However, be aware that there are issues with this method! Rapidly cooling and heating pipes can damage them, causing them to crack or burst. You also may cause the pipes to burst by generating steam, which can become trapped in the pipes.

Fill Reservoir

If your issue is that water isn’t flowing with enough pressure to fill the toilet’s reservoir, you can fill it manually. The reservoir is the back of your toilet where water to flush is stored.

Take a bucket or large bowl and fill it with clean water. Pour this water into the reservoir and attempt to flush your toilet.

If this was successful, you can confidently say there’s an issue with the water delivery of your pipes. Consider contacting a professional to come and accurately diagnose and fix the problem.

Fill Reservoir

Check For Clogs

Cold weather can sometimes make clogs more common. Items and debris that normally would go down the pipes without a problem may have issues with freezing. This scenario is common for liquid substances that freeze easily, such as some chemicals.

A great way to avoid these clogs is to only flush things that are safe to flush down a residential toilet. We sometimes get lucky flushing things that we shouldn’t, but cold weather can worsen your luck! Ensure the only things going down your toilet’s pipes are safe and flushable.

You also consider the other drains in your bathroom and how you treat the pipes. Some choose to shave in the bath, which leads to a high amount of hair going down the bathroom drain.

This hair can cause a small blockage that becomes worse as time goes on. As the weeks continue, you may find this small blockage completely stopping your water from flowing into your restroom pipes.

Thankfully, this is often an easy fix. Visit your local hardware or plumbing store and get your preferred product to clear your drains. Use these on all drains in your restroom to try to flush out whatever is clogging your water.

You should also consider tools like plumbing snakes. Using one of these tools can help to immediately remove the clog without having to handle potentially-dangerous chemicals.

Call Professionals

Above all else, the best tactic to fix your toilet plumbing issues is to bring in a professional. Professional plumbers have everything necessary to accurately diagnose your issue. They also can work safely and efficiently to remedy the problem for you.

Trying to diagnose these issues yourself can give inaccurate ideas. It also can lead to you making matters worse! Some decide to use DIY home remedies and cause considerable damage or further issues.

Rather than take matters into your own hands, contact a professional. That way, you can rest assured the proper efforts are being made.

Final Thoughts: Flushing Toilets in Cold Weather

If your toilet won’t flush in cold weather, there’s no need to panic. Perform these quick maintenance tips to remove any clogs and try to remedy the issue. If it remains, contact professionals to have them safely and effectively diagnose the issue and address the problem.

If you’d like to learn more about taking care of the plumbing in your home, feel free to contact us. You can also browse our informative site for more articles on how to remedy the problems you find in your home.

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