Although a toilet can appear like a complex household item to repair on your own and common question like; How to fix a toilet handle might swing you to call the plumber.
You’ll notice that the pieces that make the toilet operate aren’t all that complicated when you look at them.
One part of the toilet that seems simple enough yet can cause significant problems when it isn’t working correctly is the toilet handle.
If your toilet handle is stuck or loose, it can prevent your toilet from flushing or leave the toilet tank constantly refilling, causing your water bill to rise.
You should be able to repair your toilet handle within an hour or two. Remove the lid on the top tank to start.
How To Fix A Toilet Handle
When a toilet handle sticks after you press it down, it causes the flapper — the rubbery plug that goes up and down to open or block the hole in the top tank’s base—to stay upright.
With the flapper stuck open, water entering the top tank continually drains into the bowl, wasting a significant amount of water daily.
The handle connects to a rod inside the top tank. The rod connects to the flapper with a chain. As you press down on the handle, the chain rises upward, pulling the flapper out of the hole and allowing water to drain into the bowl.
Check The Mounting Nut
The handle slides in the hole in the toilet tank, secured in place with a mounting nut on the inside of the top tank. If the mounting nut is too tight, the handle could be stuck in the downward position.
When adjusting the tightness of the mounting nut, understand that it has reverse threading, so turn it clockwise to loosen it.
You may need to use a locking wrench to turn the nut slightly. The Crescent 10-Inch Locking Wrench works well for this task, allowing you to adjust the wrench’s opening to match the nut’s size. Another tool you can use would be a pair of channel pliers, such as the Irwin Vise-Grip Pliers.
Check The Chain And Flapper
Sometimes, a loose chain may wrap around the rod or the top of the flapper, causing the handle to stick in place. Fix this by detangling the chain.
How To Fix A Loose Toilet Handle
If any part of the toilet handle mechanism has a crack or bend, this issue may show up as a loose handle.
When the handle is too loose, the flapper may not seal properly, leaving the water in the top tank slowly leaking into the bowl, wasting water. A loose handle also may prevent the bowl from filling with water thoroughly, causing clogs.
Often, fixing the loose handle is as easy as tightening the mounting nut on the inside of the tank. It may take a few adjustments to reach the proper level of tightness. Test the handle after each change, watching the performance of the flapper.
How To Replace A Toilet Handle
If the handle, the mounting nut, or the rod connected to the handle inside the tank cracks or breaks, you will need to replace the handle. When you purchase a new handle, it will come with a mounting nut and rod.
The mounting nut with the handle is essential because it will match the threads perfectly. Your old mounting nut may not fit quite right.
How To Select A New Toilet Handle
When replacing the toilet handle, look for a universal fit handle, so it can fit in almost any hole location on the toilet’s upper tank. (Some toilet tanks have holes for the handles in different locations.)
The Fluidmaster 642 Universal Toilet Handle has an adjustable arm, which can be handy. For a side mount handle, the Qualihome Universal Side Mount Toilet Handle is a reasonably priced choice for quick repair.
You may need to replace the handle, the chain, and the flapper. If so, rather than buy a repair kit, a universal handle, flapper replacement, and chain set will save you a bit of money.
How To Mount A Toilet Handle
To remove the old handle, detach the chain from the far end of the rod attached to the current handle. Turn the mounting nut clockwise to loosen it, as it is reverse-threaded. Once the nut is no longer attached, you’ll have to slide it off the rod.
Gently wiggle the handle to loosen it from the hole in the tank. Pull the handle and rod out of the hole.
Insert the new handle and rod through the hole, sliding it forward until the handle rests in the hole in the tank. Slide the mounting nut on the rod inside the tank until it reaches the handle.
Attach it by turning it counterclockwise until it’s fully tightened. Attach the flapper chain to one hole at the end of the rod, leaving the chain with no slack.
Test the handle with multiple flushes while watching the flapper. If the handle sticks downward, the nut may be too tight. If the handle flops or feels loose, tighten the mounting nut. Ensure the chain length is correct, allowing the flapper to open and close properly.
How To Replace Other Toilet Parts
Fixing the toilet handle may solve your issue or show you another part that also needs repair; the malfunctioning handle was just a sign of a more significant issue.
Rather than replacing a single part inside the toilet tank, it’s easier to replace all the parts simultaneously, ensuring they work properly together.
The Fluidmaster All-in-One Toilet Repair Kit is a good choice for complete repair.
Keeping The Toilet Tank Clean
One way to avoid having to make toilet repairs frequently is to keep the water in the upper tank as clean as possible, removing lime scale and mineral residue that can affect the operation of the toilet. Use a drop-in bleach tablet in the top tank every few weeks to cleanse the water.