How to Fix a Toilet Handle
If jiggling the handle doesn't solve the problem, one of these simple fixes probably will.
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An hour or less
IntroductionA toilet handle is a simple mechanism — only a few things can malfunction. The fix is easier than you think.
- Slip joint pliers
- Teflon plumber's tape
Troubleshooting The Problem
- Start by lifting the lid off the top of the toilet tank and peeking inside.
- The nut that holds the handle onto the tank could be loose or too tight. See Step 1.
- The threads on the nut or the handle housing could be stripped. See Step 2.
- The handle arm could be cracked or broken off. See Step 3.
- The chain from the handle arm to the flapper could be disconnected or broken. See Step 4.
Project step-by-step (4)
- If the handle is loose, tighten the nut and washer on the inside of the tank with a pair of pliers. Do not overtighten the nut. You could strip the threads or, worse, crack the porcelain tank.
- If the handle is stuck down in the flush position, it may not be installed properly. Loosen the nut washer, reposition the handle so it is parallel with the top edge of the tank and re-tighten the nut.
- If the nut doesn’t tighten or keeps coming loose, the threads may be stripped.
- For a quick fix, wrap the threads on the handle bolt with white plumber’s tape or electrician’s tape. Then slip the washer and nut back on and tighten the nut.
- The best fix is to replace the toilet handle.
- Inspect the handle arm for defects, cracks or breaks.
- If there are defects, replace the complete handle and arm assembly.
- If the handle seems to be operating properly but the toilet still doesn’t flush, the chain connecting the handle arm to the flapper could be disconnected or broken.
- Before working on the chain, empty the tank. To do this, shut off the water supply valve and pull up on the flapper, letting the water drain.
- If the chain is disconnected from the handle arm, reconnect the chain from the flapper into the holes on the handle arm, using the chain hook. Leave a little slack in the chain.
- If the chain is disconnected from the flapper, reconnect the chain to the flapper.
- If the chain or the flapper is defective, replace it.