A Stuck Flush Valve

Written by john walker
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A Stuck Flush Valve
Modern toilets with advanced hardware still follow traditional engineering for their flush valves. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The plumbing inside the tank of a toilet is basic. The handle, when pressed, lifts a lever that pulls up the stopper that blocks the flush valve. Most stoppers close when the water is low, allowing the tank to fill back up. Some of these stopper valves are pressure sensitive; they require adjustment. A stopper can stick open if the handle retaining bolt or stopper bolt is too tight. The stopper can also remain open if the connecting chain becomes tangled. Repairing a stuck flush valve is a simple process that you can accomplish with very few tools ... if you know what you're doing.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Screwdriver

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Remove the lid from the back of the toilet. Loosen the retaining nut holding the handle in place if the cause of the flush valve being stuck open is a stiff handle. The nut connects to the handle on the inside of the tank and is normally reverse-threaded. Loosen the nut by twisting it counterclockwise.

  2. 2

    Adjust the chain length that connects the handle to the stopper. The chain, or plastic tie, should have a little slack when the stopper is down and the handle is up, but not so much slack that the links can bind or the tie can catch on other hardware. Pry loose the clip that holds the chain or plastic tie to the handle with needle-nose pliers. Adjust the length of the chain so that only a little bit of slack remains, which will help to keep the chain from getting tangled.

  3. 3

    Press the stopper back into place. The stopper can be lifted too high, allowing it to topple backward somewhat. The flow of water will usually pull it back into place, but the stopper can become stuck in an erect position.

  4. 4

    Adjust the sensitivity of the valve with a screwdriver for pressure-sensitive valves, which are identified by a screw along the joint of the stopper.

Tips and warnings

  • If the stopper has become damaged or disengaged from the valve, it will have to be replaced, which requires removing the tank. The stopper-and-valve assembly is held in place with a retaining nut on the bottom side of the tank between the tank and bowl. Installing a new one is a simple matter of inserting it into the hole in the tank and tightening the bolt down from beneath.

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