Toilet Flush Button Not Working? Let’s Take A Look

It’s the nightmare that most of us have lived at least once. You really, really need to flush the toilet, and nothing is happening. Your situation can be made even worse if you didn’t know it wasn’t working and… filled it, first. Let’s put aside the fear and shame and get this fixed, shall we? DreamyHome has your back (and don’t worry – we won’t tell anyone).

The most common causes for a toilet flush button not working are a busted flush or fill valve, a disconnected chain, a water shutoff valve mishap, or a simple clog.

Let’s take a look and get the toilet flushing again, shall we?

Toilet Flush Button Not Working: 4 Causes and Fixes

We’ll start with the simple fixes and move on to the still simple, but more involved fixes later. First, let’s diagnose the issue. Begin by looking at what happens when you press the button. Does your toilet flush button make no noise or have absolutely no response to being pressed? Then it’s likely the button itself has broken – you’ll need to replace it.

Alternatively, if it’s not the button, open your cistern (the tank behind the toilet seat). Is your cistern filled with water? If not, you likely have an issue with one of the mechanisms that controls water flow. If your cistern is filled with water, you may have a loose or broken fill chain. This is the little chain that lifts the plug at the bottom to fill the toilet.

Button is Broken

If the button is broken, it’s actually a rather easy fix. Generally, toilet flush buttons are secured by a single screw or nut to their housing. This means all you need to do is order a replacement part for your specific model of toilet and remove the old one. Then, you just need to put the new one back in place in the reverse order that you removed the old one.

Chain is Loose, Broken Parts

This is where you’ll need to look inside the cistern to troubleshoot. If the chain is loose, try removing a link or two (or simply tightening it). Your cistern chain should be taught, with little to no slack present. If it’s loose, the drain won’t activate when your button is pushed; too tight, and it won’t ever fully close. And don’t worry about putting your hand in the water, if needed – cistern water is clean.

If you’ve found broken parts floating in the cistern, you’ll just need to order a replacement and put it back in place. Generally, the parts that break are pretty simple parts with a single attachment point and will break over time. This is totally normal with most mechanical items, as repeated use will wear them down.

Water Shutoff Valve

You (or a guest) could have nudged the water shutoff valve at some point by accident. This is the small valve/lever that’s located near the base of your toilet on the wall. Try turning it clockwise – if it won’t turn, it’s on. If it will turn, you accidentally turned off the water.

If turning the water back on solves your problems, congrats! It was an easy fix and nobody saw you panicking after accidentally turning off the water!

Clogged Toilet

This is where the fun begins! If your button works, but the toilet won’t flush – you may just have a clogged toilet. If the toilet fills but doesn’t drain, you’ll want to turn off the water before you accidentally flood your bathroom. Let’s talk about unclogging toilets!

You’ll want to start with a flanged plunger, and move on to an auger and drain cleaner only after trying to plunge. A plunger is the easiest solution and will likely solve the problem. For the uninitiated, here’s how to plunge a toilet:

  1. Begin by turning off the water to your toilet and removing any waste that’s in the toilet. You don’t want dirty water getting splashed onto you or the bathroom by what comes next.
  2. Next, find your flanged plunger (not the flat kind – it should have a little angled rubber bit going down where it’s flat).
  3. Angle your plunger vertically and try to form a seal with a little bit of water in the toilet still.
    1. If you angle the plunger, it will reduce the likelihood of forming a proper seal, making it nearly impossible to plunge the toilet.
  4. Now press down and pull back up repeatedly, being careful not to apply too much force. Remember, your toilet is attached to the wall – too much force and you could damage or crack the toilet or wall.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you hear an audible draining sound. You’ll generally need to vigourously plunge for at least thirty seconds.
  6. Turn the water back on and test the flush – if it works (even a little bit better than before) great! If the problem isn’t fully resolved, move onto chemical or DIY drain cleaners.

DIY Drain Cleaners

This is, in short, a combination of hot water, vinegar, and baking soda. Start by putting the kettle on and boiling a litre or so of water. Next:

  1. Combine 3 parts vinegar to 1 part baking soda and have it ready, split into two parts.
  2. Pour your near boiling water down the drain – let it cool slightly so you don’t crack the porcelain.
  3. Follow the water with the first batch of vinegar and baking soda, and try to flush.
  4. Plunge for ~30 seconds.
  5. Let the other half of your vinegar solution sit in the toilet for ~10 minutes and then flush again with hot water.
  6. Test your flush with the water fully turned on.

If it drains, great! If not, move on to chemical cleaners.

Chemical Cleaners

This is rather simple – go to the store and buy a toilet drain cleaner. Do not buy a cleaner that is meant for anything other than a toilet – you should follow the instructions on the bottle to the letter.

Final Thoughts

If your toilet flush button isn’t working, it’s important to pay attention to what it’s doing. If nothing happens when you flush, try replacing the button first. However, if you have noticed other aforementioned issues, try following our lists above. Start with checking the chain length and ensuring you don’t have any broken parts in the cistern.

Next, try plunging and cleaning your drains – you may just have a clog. If all else fails, it’s time to call a professional plumber. Sit down, make yourself a drink, and let the professionals do what they do best. You’ll have a flushing toilet in no time.

(Just make sure to clean up your bathroom before the plumber gets there. It’s not cool to leave waste in the toilet for the plumber to deal with.)

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.