Installing a low-flow toilet is an effective way to reduce your water bill.

However, it can require multiple flushes and use more water than a traditional toilet when it doesn’t flush well. So, how do you make a low-flow toilet flush better?

To improve a low-flow toilet flush, address clogs immediately, ensure you have the correct plumbing, and only flush toilet paper.

Optimizing the flapper chain, monitoring the tank’s water level, and performing the occasional dry flush can also help.

In this article, I’ll explain how to make a low-flow toilet flush more effectively.

Let’s get started!

Address Clogs Immediately

Low-flow toilets use less water than traditional models, which is their main attraction.

However, this feature also makes them much more prone to clogging. With less water to push through, waste can get stuck in the toilet and pipes.

Flushing repeatedly is often our first instinct, but this can worsen the problem.

Instead, consider using one of the methods below to eliminate clogs in your toilet.

Use a toilet plunger. Plungers are useful tools for removing toilet clogs. However, they’re only effective in some low-flow toilets. Since they use suction to loosen a clog, the entire head should be covered in water to be most effective. Unfortunately, this is not always possible in some low-flow toilets. A plunger can take several minutes to release a clog, so patience is key.

Use a toilet auger. Also called a snake, this tool works well in low-flow toilets. The auger is inserted into the waste pipe to break up clogs physically. However, you should ensure the snake you’re using is compatible with your toilet and avoid using one designed for a shower or sink.

Use chemicals. Using chemical products as a last resort is best, as they can corrode your pipes and toilet bowl. Follow any chemicals you put through your pipes with boiling water to prevent corrosion.

If you cannot resolve the clog with these solutions, you should call a plumber for professional assistance.

Make Sure You Have the Correct Plumbing

Like household appliances, plumbing is continuously evolving to be more efficient.

If you live in an older home, especially one built before the 1980s, your pipes may not support a low-flow toilet.

Low-flow toilets require waste pipes with a steep incline to allow the pressure system to work properly. If the pipe is too horizontal, the flush won’t have enough power to remove waste.

Consulting with a local plumber before you buy a low-flow toilet is the best way to ensure your house can accommodate it.

Only Flush Toilet Paper

Hand holding a roll of toilet paper over a white porcelain toilet
Low-flow toilets clog easily, so make sure you only flush toilet paper.

Since low-flow toilets are prone to clogging, you must be careful about what you try to flush.

You should only flush toilet paper aside from human waste and as little as possible.

Adding absorbent products to your toilet will cause them to soak up the small amount of water in the bowl, and there won’t be enough left to flush the waste.

Absorbent products that should never be flushed in a low-flow toilet include:

● Feminine products

● Litter

● Paper towels

● Wet wipes (even the flushable kind)

The type of toilet paper you use is also important. Toilet paper has various levels of absorbency based on the number of layers and thickness.

Avoid toilet paper that markets itself as super absorbent, as it can be problematic for a low-flow toilet.

Optimize the Flapper Chain

Metallic toilet handle
Toilet handle and flapper issues can prevent your low-flow toilet from flushing properly.

The handle and flapper work together in a toilet to allow water to pass into the bowl.

When there’s a problem with the flapper chain or connection between the handle and flapper, you may flush it multiple times or hold the handle down for several seconds to get the toilet to flush completely.

When you press down on a toilet handle, you pull on a chain connected to a flapper. When the flapper raises, the water from the tank is released into the bowl, flushing it.

Unfortunately, a few things in this system can cause problems.

You’ll need to empty the toilet tank to inspect the handle and flapper. This only takes a minute and doesn’t require any tools.

Here’s how to empty your toilet tank.

  1. Shut off the water. Water enters your toilet from a water supply line in the back, and the supply lines connect to your main water line through the wall or the floor. No matter where your line leads, there will be a knob to cut off the water supply. Spin the knob clockwise all the way.
  2. Open the lid. To access the tank, remove the lid from the back of the toilet. Most lids are ceramic, which makes them heavy and fragile. Identify a safe, ideally padded place outside of your work zone to keep it while you’re working.
  3. Flush the toilet. Once the water is shut off, empty the water already in the tank. If there is still some water at the bottom after you flush, hold the handle down until all the water drains.

What To Do If the Flapper Chain Is Too Long

If the chain connecting the handle and flapper is not short enough, the flapper won’t raise completely when you press the handle.

This requires you to keep holding the handle as the tank empties slower.

A loose flapper chain is easy to fix on your own. The chain consists of a series of small links, like an adjustable necklace, and it’s connected to the handle with a clip.

All you need to do is unclip the chain and reattach the clip further down the chain. The chain should be taut but not so tight that it constantly pulls on the handle.

What To Do If You Have a Flapper Leak

The seal created by the flapper keeps the water in the tank until you’re ready to flush the toilet.

If the flapper has a crack or a poor seal, water will slowly leak out of the tank and into the bowl.

Then when you flush the toilet, there is less water. Older toilets may have a ball float instead of a flapper that functions similarly.

If your flapper is cracked or can’t maintain a seal, you must replace it.

You can buy a replacement flapper at your local hardware store or online. To prevent flapper leaks, replace the flapper every two or three years.

One low-flow toilet on the market is the pressure-assisted toilet, which uses pressurized tanks to create a stronger water flow.

The tanks are sealed to achieve this pressure, so you cannot perform maintenance on the handle or flapper.

Check the Tank Water Level

Gloved hand with flannel shirt holding onto an open, empty toilet tank
If your toilet doesn’t have enough water or has too much, it could be due to different reasons. A leak can cause lower-than-normal water levels, while high water levels are caused by overflow tube control and flapper issues.

Both high and low water levels can be problematic in toilets. If the water level in your toilet’s tank isn’t optimal, you’ll experience poor flushing.

Here’s what to do if your toilet’s tank level is too high or low:

Low Tank Water Levels Indicate a Leak

If your water level is too low, there may be a flapper leak, as discussed above. Replacing the flapper to achieve a tight seal should resolve the issue.

Again, pressure-assisted low-flow toilets have sealed tanks, so you won’t be able to adjust the water levels in these models. In this case, it’s best to consult a plumber.

Address High Tank Water Levels

If your tank water level is too high, it can impact how well your low-flush toilet flushes.

The flapper and overflow tube control the water levels; looking at both parts will help you lower the tank levels.

You’re dealing with a flapper issue if you hear a constant trickle of water coming from your tank.

If the flapper doesn’t close, water will constantly drain out of the tank, causing new water to replace it. This results in a toilet that continuously runs.

To stop the flapper from letting water out of the tank, you should check for cracks or a bad seal, which would require replacement.

If the flapper is fine, the flapper chain may be pulling on the flapper.

Lengthen the chain by moving the clip on the handle until the chain is taut, but not enough to pull on the flapper when the handle is neutral.

The other component that could be causing your tank level to rise is a misplaced overflow tube.

Like a sink or bathtub, toilets have a small hole near the top that drains water before it can spill over. The overflow tube determines how high the water can rise.

Moving the overflow tube down is more complex than these other tips and will likely require a plumber.

Perform Occasional Empty Flushes

Closeup on a toilet bowl mid-flush
Empty flushes can improve flushing in a low-flow toilet.

It may seem that flushing an empty toilet wastes water, the exact problem low-flow toilets are designed to help.

However, performing empty flushes occasionally can help prevent clogs and help your toilet flush more effectively.

If you perform your empty flush after another one, ensure the water stops running completely. If you’re concerned about wasting water, use greywater from a bath or shower to flush.

Learn more about greywater in my article, “Home Greywater Systems: Your Ultimate FAQ Answered.”

Inspect the Jets

Properly functioning toilet jets are important to maintain water flow and pressure in a low-flow toilet.

Toilets have a siphon jet at the bottom of the bowl and several rim jets along the top rim of the bowl.

Over time, minerals in your water can build up and obstruct the jets.

This is especially true if you live in an area with hard water. When this buildup clogs the jets, it reduces the water pressure and weakens the flush.

If your jets are clogged, you can use a product designed to break up the mineral deposits.

It’s worth mentioning that these products often contain chemicals that can damage some toilet bowls, so ensure it’s safe for your bowl material before use.

How To Prevent Clogged Jets

Most people scrub the toilet bowl on cleaning day but forget to touch the rim jets.

Including your jets in regular toilet cleaning will help avoid the problem completely by addressing buildup as soon as it begins.

Acidic products aren’t necessary for regular cleaning. Instead, use a toilet brush or pumice stone.

Remove Grime and Debris From Flush Holes

Over time, mineral deposits, sediments, and grime can accumulate in the flush holes of your low-flow toilet. The accumulation will lead to reduced water flow and inefficient flushing.

Cleaning these flush holes is a simple yet effective way to enhance the toilet’s performance. Let’s discuss how to do just that.


  • Waterproof duct
  • White vinegar or a mild toilet bowl cleaner
  • Old toothbrush or small scrub brush
  • Clean, dry cloth or paper towels


  1. Prepare the toilet: Turn off the water supply to the toilet. Locate the shut-off valve behind or beside the toilet and turn it clockwise until it’s tightly closed. Flush the toilet to drain as much water as possible from the tank and bowl.
  2. Cover flush holes: Use the waterproof duct tape to cover the flush holes to prevent the cleaning solutions from entering them. Cut small pieces of tape and firmly press them over each flush hole. Ensure a tight seal to avoid any leakage during the cleaning process.
  3. Apply cleaning solution: If using white vinegar, pour about a cup of it into the overflow tube located in the toilet tank. Alternatively, you can use a mild toilet bowl cleaner following the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the cleaning solution to sit for at least 15-30 minutes. The solution will help dissolve mineral deposits and loosen grime.
  4. Scrub the flush holes: With the flush holes covered, use an old toothbrush or a small scrub brush to gently scrub away any remaining debris or grime from the rim and around the flush holes. Pay attention to the area where the water jets out during flushing, ensuring it is free from any blockages.
  5. Remove duct tape and flush: Carefully peel off the waterproof duct tape from the flush holes. Turn the water supply back on and flush the toilet several times to ensure any loosened debris is completely washed away.
  6. Wipe and Inspect: Use a clean, dry cloth or paper towels to wipe down the toilet surfaces. Inspect the flush holes to ensure they are clear of any obstructions.


Several issues can cause a low-flow toilet to flush poorly. However, by keeping your toilet in good shape and addressing problems as soon as they arise, you can keep a low-flow toilet flushing well.

Stop using the toilet and address the problem immediately if you experience any of the following issues:

● Toilet clogs

● Toilet won’t stop running

● Low flush pressure

There are also regular steps you can take to prevent issues:

● Only flush toilet paper

● Run periodic empty flushes

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