Sometimes you go to flush your toilet and the handle just breaks. You might hear a snap, or you might be one of those lucky ones who starts to notice the toilet isn’t flushing completely, and not so coincidentally your toilet lever is feeling loose.
In other words, the toilet handle’s days are numbered. But that doesn’t mean your patience with it has to be either. As far as toilet troubles go, this one is near the top of the easy-to-solve list.
Let’s take a look at how easy it is to repair a toilet handle problem in your bathroom.
Fix Your Broken Toilet Handle
When fixing a broken toilet lever, it usually means replacing the toilet handle mechanism (handle and arm) altogether.
While it may be possible to simply repair the existing handle (no, not with duct tape!), the materials that make up the toilet handle are usually corroded or weakened.
This means a repair is only a band-aid. You might as well fix it correctly the first time. Especially when you can do so without much effort or expense.
We’ll assume you’ve looked inside your toilet tank to survey the damage. You’ve confirmed that when pulling down on the toilet handle, it doesn’t lift up the chain or lift-wire that runs to the bottom of the tank because the chain or wire has come loose and is no longer connected properly to the handle arm (trip lever).
When it’s time for replacement
If you inspect the arm, and the hole that the chain or wire normally connects to has deteriorated and given way, you’ll need to replace the toilet tank handle. The replacement will also come with a new arm.
If your handle’s arm is fine and the chain is firmly attached to it, you may have a broken chain or broken connection where the chain pulls on the flapper–that’s a different repair!
Also, it may just be that you need to clean corrosion or lime buildup on the parts.
In my experience, if your faulty handle is all plastic these parts can wear down or even crack with age and use. It’s really not worth trying to find replacement parts in this case.
You can buy a replacement toilet handle such as these for under $15. One with a rigid, plastic arm is usually better since it won’t corrode over the years.
A good, universal handle should last for years. Best of all, you can upgrade a little and splurge for a chrome or brushed nickle handle if you want to match other hardware in your bathroom.
Install a New Toilet Lever
When you’re ready, the first thing you’ll want to do is make things easier by turning off the water supply to the toilet and draining the tank.
This will keep water from getting everywhere. Just turn the water supply valve (just above the baseboard behind the toilet) to the right until it’s tight.
Next flush the toilet by lifting up on the chain or flapper at the bottom and letting the water flow through. You should not hear or see water rushing into the tank now.
Next, take a crescent wrench or regular pliers and undo the nut that’s inside the tank and holds the toilet tank handle on.
Turn the mounting nut clockwise to loosen. Once removed you can pull out the handle toward you.
If the chain is still partially attached to the handle arm, just unclip it.
Now, insert your new handle’s arm through the handle hole from the outside and screw on your new handle’s nut.
Finger tighten first, then just get it snug with a wrench or pliers. It doesn’t need to be super tight, or the handle may not turn properly.
Next, attach the chain clip to the best usable hole in the toilet handle arm.
Before replacing the tank lid, turn back on the water supply and let the tank refill with water.
Now, try out your new toilet handle. It should lift the small arm, which will pull the chain, which then lifts the rubber flapper and flushing the toilet.
If the flapper doesn’t lift enough, you may need to adjust where the chain’s clip is by moving it up or down on the chain. There, now you’ve fixed your toilet handle problem!