Touchless toilets for homes are a step in the right direction for our society. They have become increasingly popular as they do away with the need to physically touch your toilet after you’re done using it.

Automatic toilets were traditionally found in public bathrooms, but they are rapidly making their way into homes. They are beneficial now more than ever in this age of the Covid-19 pandemic, where we all want to avoid physical contact with others at all costs.

But like any other gadget in your bathroom, even these fancy loos can malfunction. If your automatic toilet won’t flush, often times this malfunction is caused by obstruction of the automatic sensor fitted into your unit.

If you find that your automatic toilet won’t flush, troubleshooting will usually involve locating and clearing out any obstructions on the automatic sensor connected to your toilet tank. Additional steps like replacing parts are necessary if the malfunction isn’t caused by obstruction.

But before you can diagnose the issue affecting your automatic toilet, it’s important to first understand how automatic toilets work.

How Touchless or Automatic Toilets Work

Touchless toilets have a sensor that detects when someone approaches the toilet, seats on it, or stands up after using the toilet. The sensor measures whether or not there’s been enough movement to warrant a full flushing cycle.

The sensor in automatic toilets is activated by waving or passing your hand over it. To properly activate the flushing mechanism of your touchless toilet, you need to wave your hand around 5-10 inches above the sensor.

Most touchless toilet kits made for the home are fitted into the toilet tank with a sensor able to detect your hand movement from above the tank lid or on the side of the tank.

The location of the flush sensor cover varies based on the model and while most models have it at the top of the tank lid, others have it on the side of the tank. But regardless of the location, all sensors use the same activation mechanism.

Why You Need a Touchless Toilet for Your Bathroom

Automatic toilets make using a toilet easier on everyone!

Touchless toilets are perfect for people with health complications that make it difficult to physically reach the flush button. Parents with little kids who can’t yet reach the manual flush button or handle will also benefit from installing a touchless toilet.

It’s not uncommon for germs and other pathogens to stick to your hands after using the toilet. This is why it’s so important to wash your hands after using the loo.

By touchless-ly activating the flushing mechanism, automatic toilets enable you to go without touching the toilet once you’re done with your business. This means having less contact with germs and other parasites that may have lingered on the toilet handle from a previous toilet visit.

Additionally, automatic toilets are a wonderful convenience for people sensitive to germs and those with sensitive skin.

What could cause your automatic toilet to malfunction

If you find that your toilet will not flush automatically or touchless-ly, this is most likely caused by something visible and therefore repairable obstructing or affecting the function of the automatic flush sensor fitted into your unit.

Here are some of the most common causes of touchless toilet malfunctions:

  1. Obstruction. An obstruction blocking your flush sensors or causing interference with them is by far one of the most common causes of touchless toilet malfunctions-especially when caused by something you can’t see like a piece of tissue obscuring the sensor cover (or a toy, newspaper, air freshener can, or your favorite vase that’s sitting on top of the toilet tank).
  2. Dirt and residue. You may also notice an increase in automatic toilet malfunctions when the sensor cover accumulates too much dirt or residue over time. If this is the case, we recommend cleaning the sensor cover with a dry cloth to clear any obstruction.
  3. Corrosion on wires. In some instances, the malfunction is caused by something you can’t see. Touchless toilets use power or batteries, which can corrode and cause a short circuit. Corrosion will render any sensors ineffective and unable to detect properly.
  4. Electrical wiring or power outage. Some automatic toilets rely on an electrical supply to run the sensor that activates the flushing mechanism. So in cases of power outages, automatic toilet malfunctions are inevitable.
  5. Battery running low. Most models of touchless toilets use batteries for power. If these have been used for too long without being replaced, the battery will lose its capacity over time until it eventually needs replacement – which would mean malfunctioning as well!
What To Do If Your Touchless Toilet Won’t Flush

There are many DIY solutions for fixing automatic toilets that won’t flush. Oftentimes, the malfunction is caused by your own actions or inactions such as blocking the sensor or failing to change the batteries.

Whatever the cause of the malfunction, follow these steps to fix an automatic toilet that won’t flush:

  1. Find the location of your unit’s automatic sensor. It is usually found on top of the toilet tank, or on the side of the tank, depending on your model.
  2. Remove any obstructions around this automatic sensor that could be blocking the sensor from detecting your hand movements. In some cases, removing the obstructions could mean removing the tissue roll, towel, or can of air freshener on your tank’s lid.
  3. Wave your hand above the tank to trigger flushing. This should work if the malfunction was caused by physical obstruction.

If your touchless toilet still won’t flush, this will indicate that you might have a more serious problem. But don’t panic just yet, simply follow these additional steps to sort the malfunction:

  1. Turn off the water shut-off valve next to your toilet.
  2. Remove the toilet tank lid and place it on a mat or towel.
  3. Remove the toilet tank lid and place it on a mat or towel.
  4. Ensure that the chain attaching the automatic flusher unit to the flapper at the base of your tank is firmly secured and taught. If it’s not taught, you could shorten the chain by opening the close hook attached to the unit using a screwdriver. Secure the hook on another link in the chain and reattach the hook to the sensor unit.
  5. Open the battery holder and replace batteries.
  6. Ensure your battery is properly plugged into the unit. If the malfunction was caused by worn batteries, waving a hand over the sensor should trigger a flushing movement in your flapper.
  7. Place the lid back onto the tank.
  8. Refill the tank by turning the water back on. Wave your hand above the flush sensor to test it out.

These steps should work for DIY troubleshooting of your malfunctioning automatic toilet. But if your toilet still won’t flush, it might be time to bring in the big guns by contacting a professional plumber.

In the meantime, it may be necessary to manually override the automatic sensor by using the handle to flush your toilet.

Care and Maintenance for Automatic Toilet

Automatic toilets are very sensitive devices which means they need to be taken care of properly in order to work reliably for a long time.

Sometimes automatic toilets won’t flush because of poor maintenance. To avoid this, here’s what you can do:

  1. Keep Automatic Toilet Sensor Clear of Debris. This is the first and foremost thing you need to do for your automatic toilet to work properly. Remove anything that could obstruct or cover up the sensor’s field of vision, like a tissue roll on top of it. A towel can also be an obstruction so avoid placing one over the tank lid as well!
  2. Keep Automatic Toilet Sensor Cover Clean. You’ll want to clean your sensor cover regularly with a little water and soap – this will help ensure it’s always working at its optimum capacity.The more often you clean them, the longer they last before needing replacement!
  3. Change Automatic Toilets Batteries Regularly. Most models have small AA or AAA batteries. A fault will develop if the batteries start to die out, which is why you’ll want to replace them every year or so.
  4. Replace Parts of the Automatic Toilet. Your automatic toilet could malfunction between its parts are worn out or corroded. If this happens, you’ll need to install new parts. Thankfully you can easily find and purchase replacement parts online.
  5. Avoid touching or getting close to your automatic toilet bowl before it has a chance to flush.
  6. Check that sunlight from outside doesn’t hit directly above the sensor. This could interfere with the unit and affect its reading of movements.


Automatic toilets are taking away our need for touch during bathroom use which is greatly beneficial for today’s world with the Covid-19 pandemic going on.

But, your automatic toilet is likely to malfunction like other gadgets in your bathroom. So what do you do when your automatic toilet won’t flush?

By locating and clearing out all potential obstructions, you can get back to enjoying the full benefits of your smart toilet without having to worry about cleaning up after yourself afterward!


Categories: fixtures


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