My Push-Button Toilet Flush is Stuck Down – What Should I Do?

When a push-button toilet flush is stuck down what can you do? Replacing a toilet flush system is not a difficult job, but it’s one that we can avoid most of the time.

If you live in a hard water area, over time a cistern can clog with scale or other material, or wear out with use. Fixing a sticky flush isn’t hard and won’t take long or cost the earth

Here’s how to check, and hopefully fix that sticky flush button.

A Duo-flush Button on top of a Cistern

Give it a Wiggle!

There’s a chance that the moving parts might just have become temporarily stuck. By jiggling the control buttons, they may free up.

If not, don’t worry. It’s usually an easy fix.

Next to, and slightly below the cistern, there will be a valve that regulates the water supply to the toilet. Turn it through 90° to the off position. It could be a thumb-turn, or you might need to use a flathead screwdriver.

Open Up the Cistern

The push button panel at the top of the cistern unscrews under finger pressure. You don’t need tools for this part! Just press with your fingers and turn the ring that surrounds the two flush buttons.

Lift out the buttons and any attachments and set aside.

Lift off the ceramic cistern lid and put it somewhere safe where it won’t either fall on the floor or come into contact with someone’s foot. A bath, sink, or shower tray are ideal locations.

Check for Obstructions

Before you go too far, take a good look at what’s inside the cistern. Does it all look like it should? Is it all together, or are there loose items either lying on the bottom or floating in the water?

It could be that your mechanism has perished over time. Plastic assemblies can become brittle over time, parts can snap off and moving parts can break, blocking the function of the unit.

Most items are standard and you can replace them easily without having to call out a plumber.

Is Your Cistern a Victim of Hard Water Scale?

Hard water scale is a problem in some areas of the UK and can lead to deposits of a chalky substance on equipment such as washers or taps. The plungers that connect to the push buttons can gradually acquire a coating of scale.

Clean them off with a scouring pad and lubricate them with washing-up liquid. This will ensure the mechanics of the cistern will begin working properly again.

Map of the British Isles Showing Water Hardness Areas

Is The Float Doing Its Job?

The float controls the water level in the cistern, and this can cause your push button flush to stop working properly too. Adjust the shut-off valve with a flathead screwdriver to make sure the cistern fills to the right level.

You can do this by turning the water supply on and pushing the controls on top of the cistern flush cartridge.

If the cistern level is too low the flush assembly may not shut off properly, causing water to continue to run into the toilet bowl, and the buttons will not work.

A Push Button Flush Assembly

The Flush Washer

The flush system is made up of a cartridge assembly that simply clips in and out of the cistern flush mechanism. Some undo with a quarter-turn twist.

Whichever model you have, it should come out without any trouble. Be gentle and the cartridge should pop out.

Check the washer on the bottom for scale build-up. Remove it and clean it up with regular domestic cleaning products.

Top Tip:

The washer can begin to curl up over time. When replacing the washer, set it curl down. Doing this will ensure a better vacuum seal when you replace it, making the flush more efficient.

A Flush Washer

New replacement washers cost pennies and most come with at least a two year guarantee.

Replacing a Mechanical Push-Button Toilet Flush

Sometimes wear and tear over time in a frequently used toilet facility means that you have no option but to change the push button mechanism.

It’s not an expensive purchase. You can find a push-button toilet flush on the shelves of most big-box DIY stores for under £10, and you can install them in minutes.

A Mechanical Push-Button Assembly

Replacing a Cable Push-Button Toilet Flush

This is also easier than it sounds and may take as long as five minutes for a seasoned DIY enthusiast, perhaps ten for a beginner. A replacement is not expensive.

Fluidmaster makes one that is compatible with almost every existing system.

A Look-Inside of a Cable Operated Toilet Flush System

Top Tip:

To remove the existing cartridge, hold the base of the assembly still so that it cannot move while you wiggle away at the top half of the assembly. If you loosen the bottom part you run the risk of water leaking from the base of the cistern.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, there’s no shame in calling out a professional to sort out your plumbing issues for you. A handyman or plumber will quickly be able to get your toilet flushing properly again.