storm with lightning strikes

Severe thunderstorms and snowstorms are common. In many cases, these significant weather events can knock out the electrical power to your home for a few minutes, a day or two, or even longer.

Man pressing the toilet flush button

If you don’t have a reliable backup generator, an extended power outage can pose a variety of problems such as a loss of air conditioning or heat, spoiled food in the refrigerator, and the inability to use your electrical appliances.

And as if these issues weren’t bad enough, at some point when the power is off you might find yourself asking the question: Can I flush the toilet during a power outage?

Do Toilets Work During a Power Outage?

The short answer: It depends.

If your home has a gravity-fed waste removal system, you shouldn’t experience any toilet-related plumbing issues. These systems don’t rely on electricity and instead use the natural force of gravity to move waste downward through the piping and out into the sewer.

You might only have a problem with a gravity-fed waste removal system during a winter storm when freezing weather causes the pipes to freeze. If you can’t flush, dumping a bucket of water into the toilet can usually fix the issue.

Toilets That Can’t Flush When the Power Is Out

If your water removal system is powered by electricity, flushing the toilet during an outage can become problematic. With this type of system, waste gathers in a specially designed chamber and is then transferred into the sewer by an electric pump.

Without electricity, the pump won’t work. Frequent flushing will eventually cause the chamber to become full and potentially overflow, causing sewage to back up into your basement, which can create a messy, unpleasant, and expensive situation.

Preparation Can Prevent Toilet Flushing Issues During a Power Loss

No matter which type of waste removal system you have, installing a reliable standby generator, also known as a whole-house generator, can ensure you’re prepared for an electrical power outage.

A dependable generator will keep all your home’s electrical systems — including electrically powered waste removal systems — functioning properly until power is restored in your area.

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