June 24, 2020 • In Haller Plumbing: Central & Eastern PA • 2 Min Read

Can You Flush Your Toilet During a Power Outage?

Haller Enterprises

By Haller Enterprises

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

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 do not rely on electricity and instead use the natural force of gravity to move waste downward through the piping and out into the sewer. The only time you might have a problem with a gravity-fed waste removal system is during a winter storm when extremely cold weather causes the pipes to freeze. If you’re unable to flush, dumping a bucket of water into the toilet can usually rectify the issue.

On the other hand, 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 inside a specially designed chamber and is then transferred into the sewer by an electric pump. Without electricity, the pump won’t work. And 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 in your home, 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 the power is restored in your area.

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