Is Your Push Button Flush Not Working? Here’s Why

Toilets are a vital part of your life, so it can be stressful when your push button flush stops working. Luckily, the fixes are pretty much the same across all toilets, so don’t go to the corner store for a wee quite yet.

The most common causes of a push button flush not working are a clog, blocked inlet holes, improper water levels, a warped flapper, or poorly laid pipes.

Let’s try to fix this ourselves before going through the hassle of calling a plumber, shall we? There’s no sense in calling a plumber in to plunge your toilet, after all.

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The Top 5 Causes of a Push Button Flush Not Working

Generally, toilets will show a few signs that something’s wrong. You’ll either push the button and have nothing happen, or you’ll push it and get almost nothing to happen. Sure, the water’s moving, but not with the vigour it normally does. Check out the following causes to hopefully solve the issue before bringing in the pros.

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1. Clogs

No, we’re not talking about wooden shoes here. This is the most common issue in most toilets, so let’s try to take a look at that first, shall we?

Clogs are caused by debris and large amounts of waste getting stuck in the pipes and unable to move. If you notice that the button needs to work more to activate the flush or that it’s got water returning after a flush, this is the most likely cause. The fix for this is pretty well-known – you need a toilet plunger.

When trying to remove a clog, be sure to remove anything in the bowl first. No – it’s not pleasant, but that’s the job. Try using an auger if you have one; otherwise, a bent wire hanger will do the job. Try to knock loose anything you can with these, then move onto the plunger.

When plunging, you mustn’t do it too hard. You’re plunging suspended porcelain with large amounts of water attached, after all. If you plunge too hard, you will break your toilet and cause larger issues. Start with plunging for ~15 seconds and try flushing again. Repeat the process as much as needed, though if you’re there for twenty minutes plunging, it’s likely something else needs to happen.

If you’re having a major problem with plunging, turn off the water to your toilet, add hot, not boiling water to the bowl, and let it sit for a few minutes. Boiled water can crack the porcelain, so seriously – don’t boil the water. Flush again and see how it works. If this hasn’t solved the problem, move down the list.

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2. Blocked Inlet

If no water is coming down the sides of your toilet, that’s a sign of blocked inlet holes. Alternatively, you may notice water coming down straight rather than diagonally – which can cause serious problems and a high water bill.

You can look at the inlet holes using your phone or a mirror (carefully as not to drop it in). If they’re blocked, do the following:

  1. Heat white vinegar to roughly 50 °C and pour it through the overflow pipe.
  2. Allow it to sit overnight.
  3. Use an Allen wrench or that bent hanger to unblock the holes.

These generally occur due to the natural buildup of bacteria and minerals. If this is a reoccurring problem, it may be time to look at your water. If it’s extremely hard water, consider investing in a water softener for your toilet to prevent this issue from happening too often.

3. Water Levels

If there’s no resistance when pushing your flush button, that’s a sign of low water levels. Start by checking that your water valve is fully open – as low water pressure can cause issues similar to low water levels.

To fix this issue, ensure that the water is at the level it normally is in the back tank. Generally, this will be marked with a “minimum water line” in the tank itself, though not always. You can fix this by ensuring everything is in its proper place and replacing the smaller parts that may look old or worn out.

Alternatively, if you need to flush now, simply add water in from another source. Remember that this won’t fix the problem – it’s only a temporary solution.

4. Warped Flapper

The flapper is a small rubber piece that releases water when the button is pushed. Over time, these can bend and warp, which may lead to issues with flushing. It’s entirely possible that you’ll need to replace it, especially if it’s old. But let’s start by ensuring everything is installed properly first.

  1. Check the length of your flapper chain. Try rehooking it more tightly to the button with less slack. This may fix your problem.
  2. Make sure the flapper fully covers the hole. It could just be too small.
  3. To replace the chain, do the following:
    1. Remove the flapper after turning off your toilet’s water.
    2. Flush to ensure the tank is fully empty.
    3. Unhook the chain and attach your new one. (Take photos if you’re not sure what size it is when buying a replacement.)
    4. Test the flush.

5. Bad Pipes

This is the least likely cause of your push button flush not working – but it’s still a possibility, so let’s look at it anyway.

If you have consistent issues while flushing (or are entirely unable to still), it’s time to call a professional plumber. It’s entirely possible that your home’s plumbing was simply laid poorly. If they’re sloped too far downward, it’s entirely possible that a pool of water is preventing you from flushing – and that’s not something you can fix on your own.

While you may not want to call a plumber, it’s important that you do if you’ve not solved the issue yourself by now. Further experimentation (or worse, ignoring the problem) can cause larger issues down the line that a plumber can pinpoint and fix.

Final Thoughts

If your push button flush is not working, there are four main things to look for before calling a plumber. Low water levels, clogs, warped flappers, and blocked inlets are all relatively easy-to-solve problems that you can deal with on your own. However, if you’ve tried the above steps to no avail, it’s time to swallow your pride.

Call a plumber and have them look at your situation. It’s entirely possible that there’s a clog you just can’t reach or that your plumbing was laid poorly in the first place. Those aren’t things you can fix alone – so call for help. Professionals exist to make your life easier, after all.