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Can You Flush the Toilet When the Power Is Out? Facts & FAQ

Flushing water

A power outage can affect many aspects of your daily activities, such as cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, or relaxing. Still, you may be wondering whether the toilet would be affected too. For homeowners who depend on the well water and the water pump as the only water source connected to the house, flushing will become an issue once the power goes out.

To find out in which cases a blackout will affect you and your toilet system, read on below. If your toilet cannot flush during an outage—don’t worry! We included a guide on preparing and gathering water in case of a potential power outage.

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Which Toilets Continue to Flush During Power Outages?

Certain toilet systems will continue to work smoothly when there is a power outage in your entire city or neighborhood. Such toilets can be those in large communities or standard gravity-flush toilets.

If you live in a large community, the water will most likely continue to circulate through your toilet from large holding tanks. The pressure of municipal water is usually unaffected by a power loss.

If you own a standard gravity-flush toilet, you won’t have any issues flushing. Unless your water and waste system depend on electricity, you will never have problems flushing the toilet.

toilet flushing
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Which Toilets Won’t Flush When the Power Is Out?

Even though most toilets will function without any issues during a power outage, there are some specific cases when you may face difficulties flushing.

If you live in an apartment building, there are great chances that you won’t be able to flush your toilet when the power is out. The reason behind this is the specific pumping system that requires electricity to pump the water through the entire building. When the power is out, the pump stops working, and the water cannot circulate through the building.

In basements and other areas of the house that are distanced from the sewer, you can often find “upflush” toilet systems that require an outlet and electricity to run. These toilets use electricity to pump the waste to the main sewer, which cannot function properly when the power is out.

Another scenario in which you may have difficulty flushing during a power outage is if you own a septic system toilet that pumps the waste from the tank to the drain field. These toilets most likely require electricity to run, meaning that the blackout will probably disrupt the system of flushing.

flushing toilet
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Can You Flush a Toilet Using City Water During a Power Outage?

Most homes in large cities and small rural areas function by using the municipal water distribution system. That means that your home is hooked to the city water and the pump stations and has its water meter attached to the water line. When your home experiences a power outage, the city water will continue to circle through the entire neighborhood and provide you with regular water pressure. Flushing the toilet in these cases will occur smoothly and without any interruptions.

Although there are some exceptions to the city water systems—as mentioned above, when you live in a higher-level building, even if it is connected to the municipal water system, the building’s pump requires electricity. During a blackout, it will stop working.

Can You Flush the Toilet Using Well Water During a Power Outage?

Many homes in the United States use toilet systems that run on well water. These systems almost always require an electric pump to run, meaning the power outage will disturb the pump. While the pump may stop working, you may still use the leftover water to flush the toilet, although once the tank water is used up, you will have to wait for the power to come back. For many homeowners living in the US, that is not a serious problem since the power outage may only last a few hours.

elongated toilet seat
Image By: Sidorov_Ruslan, shutterstock

How to Prepare for a Power Outage

If your home is connected to the well as its only source of water, it won’t hurt to be prepared for situations like power outages. When there is a blackout, you will want access to water until the power comes back on. There are a few ways you could prepare for a storm in case of a power outage.

  • Fill a few buckets with water to have easy access to it. One 5-gallon bucket will be enough to flush the toilet three times, which may come in handy during a blackout.
  • In an emergency, seek out any outside water sources to use in your bathroom. You can collect water from the pool, a pond, or a rain barrel. It doesn’t have to be fresh and clean water, just clean enough to keep your bathroom tidy until the power comes back.
  • To keep more water when you live in an apartment building, you can fill up your bathtub. A typical bathtub can hold up to 42 gallons of water, enough to flush the toilet as much as you need.

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Final Thoughts

While toilets can be built using various principles and systems, the essential feature in the case of a blackout is whether you are connected to the city water or the well water. In the case of a power outage, you will be lucky if your home is hooked up to the municipal water distribution system because you will be one of the lucky people being able to flush after using the toilet.

Featured Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska, Pexels


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