How To Fix A Sticking Push Button On Your Toilet Flush

  • A guide to fixing a stuck push button.
  • Why toilet push buttons get stuck.
Toilet push button

When the push button stops working, the person in the bathroom starts panicking. Here’s a few quick fixes to make it seem like nothing happened.

Recognising a stuck button

Imagine you’re in the bathroom, you go to flush the toilet, and all seems formal while you wash your hands. Until you realise that the sound of flushing has become a never-ending trickling water sound and the push button has stayed down.

You try to push the button again, hoping that it’s just jammed and needs to be pressed a couple of times – something that anyone growing up in a home with a push button toilet would be used to.

But the button stays down, and the toilet system keeps attempting to finish its flush.

If this happens, you’ve got a sticking push button problem. Depending on the reason the button is sticking, you may be able to fix this in a matter of seconds without getting into the toilet system or having to turn off your toilet’s water supply.

Toilet push button
A push button toilet in a modern bathroom.

Check the float

This is the most common issue with push button toilet systems. What happens is the toilet’s tank fills too quickly after being flushed, causing the float to close off too early. That’s what makes the water continue to run until the issue is fixed.

You can complete this fix in minutes.

First, take the cover off of the tank and press the flush button. Watch the water level as the toilet system drains and fills again. The float will trigger the shut-off valve too early if the water is filling too quickly.

You’ll need to locate the small elbow-shaped pipe that comes from your wall to your toilet’s tank. There’s a small valve that should have a line which (should be, in this situation) pointing along the pipe.

That shows that your valve is completely open. To reduce the speed of the water flow in your system, simply turn the valve to a more diagonal stance, which will slow the water down.

This may seem complicated but all you’re doing is checking that the water is filling too fast and then adjusting a single valve to fix the problem.

Replace the button mechanism

If it’s not the speed of the tank filling, it might be one of the internal pieces. Start with the button first.

Push the toilet button a few times to check whether or not the toilet system’s rod moves as well. Yes, you’ll need to take the toilet cover off of the tank to see this in action.

If the rod isn’t moving in a pushing motion, pull off the lever and put that in the toilet’s water tank. Next, unscrew the nuts around the button mechanism that secure it to the tank cover and remove the button mechanism.

You’ll need to replace it. The mechanism will only need to be replaced if the rod doesn’t move when it’s pushed, or there is obvious wear and tear that you think could be attributing to the issue.

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Sticking toilet push button
Pressing the push button to flush the toilet system.

Replace the lever

This fix will require a bit of a balancing act. Don’t fully remove the tank cover, but rather, try to balance it on the edge while you peer inside the tank to see what’s going on.

As you’ll have seen when checking the mechanism earlier, there’s a rod that comes out from the underside of the tank lid – this is why we’re not taking the lid off completely. At the end of the rod, there’s a lever.

If that lever is broken, you need to get a new one and replace it, or your toilet system won’t be working again anytime soon.

Install a new flush valve

This fix will take a bit longer. If the rod moves when the push button is pressed, and the lever isn’t broken, the next step is checking the flush valve.

Insert a wide stick (like one from a popsicle) into the flush valve port, which is located on top of the flush valve where the rod is. Push down on the stick to flush the system. If there’s no flush, you’ve got yourself a broken flush valve.

In the instance you aren’t used to dealing with this part of your plumbing system, there’s no shame in calling out a plumber. Better safe than sorry!

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