How To Fix Push Button Toilet Flush Problems: 6 Easy Steps


Toilets with a push button have become a staple of modern homes. But when the system doesn’t flush as it should, you might find it trickier to fix compared to a conventional toilet with a handle. 

Luckily, fixing a flush button isn’t that hard. All you have to do is to: 

  • Turn off the water and empty the tank 
  • Inspect the components and clean any mineral deposits and grime
  • Replace the washer on the flush valve
  • Check the flushing rod length and adjust it if necessary
  • Replace the flush system
  • Inspect and fix plumbing issues

Fixing A Push Button Toilet Flush Problems

We are all accustomed to traditional, handle toilet styles. They have a bunch of moving parts inside, including a float, flapper, and chain that could cause flushing problems. 

That’s not the case with push button toilets. These models have a different flushing system that consists of a water inlet valve, a flushing valve with one or two rods attached to the push button(s), and an overflow valve that drains excess water straight into the bowl. 

Because they have fewer parts that can break, push button toilets are actually easier to maintain and fix.

The major flushing problems with these toilets are poor flushing, no flushing, or water running continuously. All these issues can have the same causes and can be fixed in the same way. 

Before getting started, gather the following: 

  • Pliers 
  • Flathead screwdriver 
  • Rags 
  • Bucket (optional)
  • Sponge (optional)

1. Turn Off The Water And Empty The Tank

When fixing any toilet tank, turning off the water and emptying the cistern is a must. 

Locate the shutoff valve on the water line that leads to the toilet (usually behind the tank or near the floor, behind the bowl). Turn it counterclockwise to shut off the flow.

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Push the flush button to drain the water in the tank. 

If a clog prevents the water from draining into the bowl (no flush), mop out the water with a sponge and empty it into a bucket. You can then throw it down the toilet. 

2. Clean Any Mineral Deposits And Grime 

Scale forming on the valves is one of the main culprits for flushing problems. Mineral deposits can prevent the inlet valve from closing completely, but they can also obstruct the outlet valve. 

Thus, they can stand behind both poor or no flush and water running continuously. 

Scale deposits are easy to spot on the various components inside the tank. You can clean them with white vinegar or an all-purpose descaling solution.

While mineral deposits are more frequent if you have hard water, sediment in the water can also deposit inside the toilet and cause blockages. This issue is more frequent in households using well water. 

If sediment is present, clean the toilet tank with white vinegar and an all-purpose cleaner containing bleach.

3. Replace The Washer On The Flush Valve 

The flush valve washer is the equivalent of a flapper in traditional toilet systems. Most push button toilets have a similar setup, but you should refer to the specific toilet diagram for your make and model to locate it.

This rubber ring can wear down, or mineral deposits and sediments can damage it. Replace it with a new washer from the same brand.

The video below shows how to replace the washer in a push button toilet tank: 

4. Adjust The Flushing Rod Length 

In push button toilets, the flushing rod – or rods, if your toilet is a dual-flush – is the equivalent of the float found in standard toilet tanks. 

This component adjusts the level of water in the cistern, telling the water inlet valve when to close. If adjusted incorrectly, it can leave the valve open for longer than necessary (wasting water) or could close it too soon, leading to poor flushing. 

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Most push button toilets have a rotating mechanism attached to the rod, and you can turn it clockwise or counterclockwise to adjust the rod length. However, refer to your user manual for specific instructions.

5. Replace The Flush System

If cleaning the toilet tank, replacing the washer, and adjusting the flush rod length haven’t solved the issue, you should replace the entire flush system. 

Ideally, buy a new kit from the same brand. While you could use a compatible system, you’re more likely to run into trouble in the long run. Once you have the new kit: 

  1. Turn off the water to the toilet and drain the tank as described above. 
  2. Get your screwdriver and remove the screws that fasten the tank to the toilet base (and the wall, if there are any). 
  3. Locate the wing nuts underneath the tank and undo them. 
  4. Loosen the nut connecting the water pipe to the inlet valve and pull it off. Lift the tank carefully and set it on a level surface. 
  5. Remove the gasket at the bottom of the tank and loosen the nut that holds the flushing mechanism in place. Pull out the old mechanism. 
  6. Fit the new flushing system, reversing the steps above. Then, fasten the nut at the bottom of the tank to lock it in place. 
  7. Place the tank back on the toilet base and secure it in place. Connect the water line and test the system.

Top tip: If you don’t feel confident enough to remove the flush system and fit in a new one, you can replace the entire tank

6. Inspect And Fix Any Plumbing Issues 

Although rare, poor flushing problems or water running continuously could be the result of faulty or poorly installed plumbing. 

Unless you’re a professional, it could be hard to determine what causes the issue. Thus, the best thing to do is to hire a plumber to inspect and fix your entire toilet setup.

Understanding Single Vs. Dual Flush Systems

The steps above can help you troubleshoot and fix any push button toilet system. However, push button toilets can have a single-flush or a dual-flush system. 

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The main difference between the two is the flush valve. 

Single-flush systems have one valve that empties the entire cistern each time you push the button. Dual-flush systems have a dual valve that allows you to empty the tank completely or partially, depending on which button you push. 

The purpose of dual-flush systems is to help you save water – up to 67%, according to studies. You can empty the tank partially to flush liquid waste or completely when you need more flushing power.

The easiest way to tell which system your toilet has is by looking at the flush button. If there is only one, your toilet is single-flush. If you notice two buttons – one smaller and a larger one – the toilet is dual-flush. Push the small button for a low stream and the large one for a powerful flush. 

Why is it important to know the difference between the two? 

Well, because many people complain about poor flushing in their new toilet while inadvertently using the low flush button instead of the full flush one. 

In this case, cleaning or replacing the system won’t help – you simply have to pay attention to which button you press. 

The type of system also matters from a troubleshooting standpoint. You may have to check and clean both flush valves to fix the problem. Remember that dual-flush systems also have two flushing rods that may need adjustments.

Key Takeaways 

The main flush issues in a push button toilet include poor flushing, no flushing, or water running continuously. All these troubles can be caused by scale and grime deposits, a broken washer, or a faulty flush system. 

To fix them, start with cleaning the tank. Replace the washer and adjust the flushing rod if necessary. Replace the flush system with a new one if the above didn’t work, or call in a plumber to help you locate and solve the problem.