Home » 3 Common Issues with Toilet Handles

3 Common Issues with Toilet Handles

At Sacramento Plumbing Solutions, we understand that a toilet handle/toilet tank is one of the most essential parts of your home. It provides sanitary, hygienic and efficient waste disposal for your family. However, when there is any issue with the toilet handle, it’s almost impossible to use the toilet. If you have a porcelain tank, your old handle/tank lever and chain clip are pretty easy to locate and repair/replace yourself.

3 Common problems with a toilet handle

Three common issues for handles on most toilets are below:

  1. Handle is loose or jiggling
  2. Handle sticks (stays down) when flushing
  3. Handle needs to be held down to flush

When repairing your toilet handle, close the toilet lid, remove the tank lid, drain fully, spread out towel on the top of it then set all of your parts and adjustable wrench on top. Always remember to not over tighten your new parts and keep your chain straight. If your tank is constantly flowing, you may also want to turn off the water supply shut off valve so the water supply pipe is empty. A dry working area is always more functional, safe and clean. Plus, it’s hard to grip anything with your hands wet.

Fixing a toilet handle that’s loose or jiggling

Installing a replacement handle is very easy. To start the process, try this out- flush your toilet and remove the screws underneath the toilet tank lid with a screwdriver. Look for screws that hold down the inner workings of the flusher. Remove them too. Next you need to undo the nuts that connect the flush mechanism with the tank’s base. Now pull out the handle, disconnect it and replace it with a new mounting nut with a crescent wrench twisting in the reverse direction/opposite direction as when you started. Replace all previously removed screws/nuts and make sure your toilet is working properly now. You may need to remove all of the following parts before installing a new handle:

  1. Lift chain
  2. Mounting nut
  3. Flush arm/long arm
  4. Handle nut
  5. Chain hook

Fixing a toilet handle that sticks when you flush

Sometimes the simplest method is the best solution to fixing your toilet handle. To start the process of elimination, try bending or straightening the arm that lifts the flush valve, if that does not work properly try replacing the handle and assembly. The chain could also be entangled with the metal rod which is connected to the flusher. Unhook it and situate it properly so that you can gain access to the flusher. You might also need to replace the entire rod as it might be damaged or broken. If the toilet handle is stuck it can be fixed by lubricating it with WD-40 or any other kind of household oil, covering the metal rod threads and then rotating the handle. Your toilet handle might be broken within the tank and it isn’t moving as smoothly as it should. You need to examine how much you can move the handle, if only a small amount of movement is possible then this means that there is something stuck inside the tank which needs to cleaned up. If your toilet handle has seen better days then try replacing it.

Fixing a toilet handle that only flushes when you hold it down

If you hold the handle in the down position to flush then your chain might be tangled or broken. There could also be little slack/not enough slack. Do not panic, your toilet is still usable and the problem can be fixed without spending much money. Don’t forget to inspect the flush valve while you are at it. Unhooking a chain from a toilet handle is easy- grab it with some pliers and pull on it while twisting it slightly to get it off. Put on a new one and you’re good to go. If this doesn’t work you might need to replace the handle too, chains usually aren’t sold separately so buying a new one is your only option.

Can you replace a toilet handle on your own?

Some people might think that they cannot fix a toilet handle on their own and will need to call a plumber, but this is not always the case. The first steps can be done without any help and afterwards it’s just a matter of replacing the handle/chain with a new one. Replacing a toilet handle is an easy process which doesn’t require any special skills. However, if you are unsure about any of the steps then it’s best to call a plumber or buy a new handle that comes with all the parts together. Also, only attempt to replace your toilet handle if it is broken beyond repair.

When to call a professional plumber to fix a toilet handle

If it is your first time replacing a toilet handle then you might need to call a plumber before you go to the hardware store or if the process seems too complicated. If anything goes wrong and you can’t make any progress or you didn’t take off a certain screw or nut, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber to fix your toilet. Call a licensed plumber if:

  • You cannot undo a nut or a screw
  • You are unsure how to fix toilet handle
  • You have tried to fix your toilet handle but it is still not working properly after replacing the chain/handle
  • There is something seriously wrong with your toilet such as the flusher getting stuck inside the tank and you can’t remove it.
Mike Grijalva

Mike Grijalva

Owner & Lead Plumber

I’ve been a journeyman plumber for over 15 years and opened my own plumbing company in 2011. I’m highly qualified and offer the best prices in the Sacramento area. I’ve done plumbing in every aspect possible, inlcluding new construction, service and repair, commercial, sprinkler service, and custom homes. I take great pride in my work.  You can feel comfortable trusting someone highly skilled with integrity for all your plumbing needs.

CSLB License #963048

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