Fixing a "Push Button" Sink

Introduction: Fixing a "Push Button" Sink

About: I am a Marine Engineer in the RNZN (39 years done in various navies) and am looking forward to retirement!!! so I can do more messing about with tools

We have these spring loaded push button sink plugs in our house, and from time to time they stick in the closed position so you can't drain the sink.

This is usually due to a build up of soap scum, mould etc (yum) so this is how you get them to work again --with the added bonus of cleaning the crap off of them, so they are more hygenic.

Sorry some of the pics are a little blurry but I was trying to get close ups while doing the job and holding the camera -- I need a slave to take the pics!!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

A pair of pliers


Steel Wool or Wire Brush

Silicon Spray or WD40

Mould Cleaner

Step 2: Removing the Plug

Firstly you have to get the plug bit out (the shiny chromed bit)

If you can get the plug to open (ie you are doing this before it is jammed in as preventative maintenance) you can grip the outside with your fingers or CAREFULLY with pliers and rotate it to come off

If the plug is jammed shut the push down on the top surface while trying to rotate anticlockwise, they will usually come apart pretty easily, for extra grip try wearing a rubber glove. (On your hand - silly!!)

Step 3: Removing the Stem

Use the pliers to CAREFULLY turn the stem anticlockwise and remove, sometimes it will come out in one piece still attached to the plug, This is a BONUS!!

Step 4: Clean

Clean as thoroughly as possible using wire wool, wire brush etc

I also sprayed with mould killer, washed the whole thing in very hot water and then sprayed with silicon spray.

Work the "action" several times (open and close) to ensure it is free to move

If it is still a bit sticky then there is a small locating screw on the side, which may have worn a groove or lip internally, try slackening this 1/4 turn.

Step 5: Reassemble

As they say in the Haynes Manuals Reassembly is the reverse of dismantling --easy enough, don't overtighten anything just do it up and "give it a nip" Remember these bits are usually brass and not got a huge amount of strength.

Operate it a few times to make sure it functions

While you're at the sink it is probably a good time to clean the U-Bend or P-Trap depending which you have.

I will cover this in a later I'ble

Thanks for reading



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    17 Discussions

    Lifesaver! Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. I was dreading what I thought was going to be a major task but thanks to you I had it sorted in 5 minutes. Much appreciated!


    Question 6 months ago

    Hi, I was able to get the stopper out in one piece and I scrubbed it but the top won't pop up. It won't budge What can I do?


    9 months ago

    I'm a DIY Babe and do most of my own decorating, fencing, gardening etc,but I usually avoid plumbing! Anyway I followed your instructions and success! one thing to add - my sink was full of water and it was jammed down fast. I had to first use a plunger several times to vacuum pull the plug nearer to the surface then bale out the water before following your instructions. Saved myself at least £40. (Min charge for plumber!)

    1 reply

    Excellent, glad it was of help

    Thanks for the info on sticking push plugs, after removing the spindle part and gave it some lubricant it worked a treat.

    My chrome top also got stuck down so I used a suction plunger to pull it up.

    Mine was stuck in the down position and I couldn't turn the chrome at all. So I removed the trap and pushed a screwdriver up the waste pipe to get it into the up position. After that I followed your notes and everything is OK thanks

    Brilliant, saved me a call out charge! In my case it was just a few grains of sand stopping it from "catching" in the closed position. If you are behind our fridge too could you do a bit of dusting! Thanks.

    1 reply

    You're welcome, the dusting is done but you need to do something about the spiders! Also I kept the twenty dollars I found behind here

    Thanks for sharing this! I though the plug must unscrew, but I was afraid to force it when I didn't know for sure. I would recommend adding a pair of longnose pliers to the tools list, in case - like mine - your sink was plugged less by soap scum, and more by the hairball from hell.

    1 reply

    Great instructions. Now I need to find the supplier of the seals in Sydney Australia. Not an O ring but flat with a wing. Any ideas?

    1 reply

    I would imagine that a good plumbing shop would have them. Places like Bunnings and mitre 10 tend to only stock whole units.

    what an unbelievable coincidence, this is on my to-do list for this weekend's tasks, the plug in the our bathroom sink's just like this. cheers

    2 replies

    It's not a coincidence, I have been living behind your fridge for the last 6 months. By the way you need milk

    HA .. now that reply is funny!

    I've never seen a push button sink .. very interesting.

    I always thought the best repair was doing steps 1 to 3 and then using a normal sink plug instead...


    ...but, seriously though, it would probably be a good idea to replace the rubber seals while you've got the mechanism apart.

    1 reply

    I agree if they have deteriorated, mine were fine so left as is.