How to repair a broken toilet handle

Written by christopher john
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A malfunctioning toilet handle will need to either be adjusted so that it works properly, or replaced altogether. Either scenario is an easy fix for most every homeowner and will involve using common household items. If you need a replacement handle, you can easily find one at a local plumbing supply, hardware or home improvement store.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Penetrating oil
  • Vinegar
  • Old toothbrush
  • Replacement handle

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  1. 1

    Turn the shut-off valve completely clockwise in order to shut off the water to the toilet. Lift and remove the tank lid. Examine the handle. Tighten the locknut behind the handle, using a wrench, if the handle is merely loose. Remember that this is a left-handed thread, which is backwards from normal screw threads. From your perspective, facing the tank, turn the locknut clockwise to tighten it. If the locknut won't budge, apply penetrating oil, such as WD-40, and let it set before attempting to turn the nut.

  2. 2

    Turn the nut behind the handle counter-clockwise, from your perspective in front of the tank, to loosen the nut. Unhook the flapper chain from the trip lever, noting which hole in the lever to which the chain was attached. Slide the trip lever, which is attached to the handle, out of the hole in the front of the tank. If the handle was malfunctioning because it was simply loose, soak the handle threads for approximately an hour in vinegar to remove mineral deposits, then scrub the threads clean, using an old toothbrush. If the handle or lever is broken beyond being used again, obtain a replacement handle, which will have the lever attached to it.

  3. 3

    Insert the lever attached to the new handle through the hole in the tank. Install and tighten the left-hand thread nut onto the lever and the back of the handle. Install the chain on the trip lever, making certain that the chain is not too tight, which will hold the flapper up from its seat, and does not have too much slack, which will not allow the toilet to flush properly and may cause the chain to get caught beneath the flapper after flushing.

  4. 4

    Flush the toilet to make certain that the handle works properly, and that the chain is properly attached to the lever. Make certain also that the lever does not interfere with the ball float. Gently bend the lever slightly so that it does not come near the ball float, if necessary. Place the lid on the tank and turn on the water supply to the toilet.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not over tighten the nut behind the handle to avoid breaking the plastic.

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