Do you have one of those toilets that just doesn’t want to flush? You flip the handle and nothing happens. You try it a few more times with the same result, and then you either give up and take the lid off the toilet to see what is the matter or you call the plumber. It can all be very frustrating.
But you don’t need to get flustered. It may be something very simple, such as a broken flush lever. This is a very simple fix. We are going to discuss how to diagnose it and how to fix it. It can be your first simple plumbing project.
First, let’s take a look at the toilet. The flush handle is usually on the right (if you are sitting on the seat) since most people are right-handed. On the toilet pictured below, the handle is white. When activated, it moves but nothing happens. In order to discover the problem, you will need to remove the tank lid. It should just lift off. Set it to the side where the porcelain will not get dropped and broken.
Now that the lid is off, you can see the lever. It attaches to the flapper at the bottom of the tank. Lifting the flapper upward allows water to flow out of the tank and into the bowl, flushing the contents of the bowl down the drain. The flapper is the red and black object located under the lever. It usually attaches to the lever with an adjustable chain.
The lever is held in place with a nut that screws onto the back of the handle assembly. This picture shows the nut on the inside of the tank.
In this picture, you will see that the lever is cracked, so that when the handle is operated the lever just flops around and does not lift the flapper. The handle and lever will need to be replaced.
This is another picture illustrating the break.
This is the new lever that we are going to install. New levers are inexpensive, generally less than $20.00. This will be a simple and inexpensive repair.
This shows a pair of “426” Channel lock adjustable pliers. This pair has seen some use but will certainly get the job done.
Since the lid is already off, you will have access to the lever and the nut. Disconnect the flapper from the lever. Using your pliers, grasp the nut that is holding the lever to the tank. Rotate the pliers clockwise, turning the nut to remove it. After the nut has been removed, the lever will slip through the face of the tank. You will pull the handle toward you. It may be necessary to rotate the lever a little to remove it.
This is the lever and nut that have been removed.
Now you can take the new lever and slip it into position. Hold the handle at the angle that you would like to have it sit. Tighten the nut, turning counter-clockwise this time. Another way to think of the direction that you will turn the nut is that right turns tighten and left turns loosen. The nut is only plastic, so be careful not to over tighten it.
The next step is to re-attach the chain to the lever. This chain has a hook on it that makes it easy to slip into the notches provided on the lever. Test the handle to make sure that when it is operated, the lever lifts the flapper, letting the water into the bowl. After the water is out of tank, the flapper should fall back into place, sealing the tank and allowing the tank to fill again.
The handle has now been repaired. All that remains is to replace the lid, and your project is complete! Now, wasn’t that simple?