Toilets are one of the most used items in your home, and it's important they work effectively. Even the best toilets can develop faults over time, and often it’s the handle that goes. Once a handle becomes loose or starts to hang down, then you won't be able to flush the toilet properly.
This guide will not only take you through all the things you need to look out for when it comes to resolving toilet handle issues but also how to replace toilet handle easily.
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How Toilet Handles Work (Why Are They Important?)
The average person uses the toilet 5 to 7 times a day, but not many people actually understand how a toilet works. The toilet handle is a key part of the mechanism, and without it, your toilet won't operate as you need it to.
When you press the toilet handle, it operates a lever inside your cistern. This is connected to a valve, called a flapper, and the water drains down through a siphon into the toilet bowl. The water pressure gets the waste to flow down the s-bend of the toilet and out into your plumbing.
Why Doesn’t My Toilet Handle Work? (Causes + Signs They Need Replacing)
Toilet handles see a lot of use, and there are many different reasons they can stop working. Understanding the issue can help you solve the problem, and these are the main causes:
To prevent your toilet handle from breaking, you need to act early. Look out for these telltale signs that might indicate a problem with your toilet handle:
Steps By Step Guide For Replacing & Installing A Toilet Handle
How To Install A New Toilet Flush Handle
- 1Choose Your Handle
First, you need to find a handle that matches your toilet and your bathroom.
- 2Open The Tank
Lay a clean towel on the floor. Carefully lift the porcelain top from the cistern and place it down.
- 3Disconnect The Chain
A metal arm inside your toilet will be attached to a chain attached to the toilet handle. Carefully disconnect the handle and be sure to note which holes it's fitted into.
- 4Remove The Old Toilet Handle
You should now be able to remove the toilet handle by undoing the nuts that hold it in place. This will be located on the inside of the cistern near the top of the toilet. Make sure you turn it the right way and don't push too hard, or you can crack the porcelain. Once removed, make sure you clean around the hole with soap and water.
- 5Attach The New Handle
Now you should attach your new handle. Slide the arm through the hole and use the O-ring, washer, and nut to attach it securely. Use a wrench to get this as tight as possible, but be careful not to crack the porcelain.
- 6Reattach The Chain
Finally, reattach the chain inside the cistern so it can flush. Replace the lid on top of the toilet and test the handle to ensure the toilet flushes as it should.
How To Replace A Toilet Handle And Flapper
- 1Turn Off The Water Supply
Use the lever on the back of the toilet to turn off the water supply. You can then flush the toilet, so it's completely empty. Lift off the top and set it down carefully on the floor.
- 2Get A New Flapper
You can find these at most hardware stores. There is a standard size, but make sure you measure up first before buying because there is quite a bit of choice.
- 3Replace The Old Flapper
Disconnect the chain within the cistern and remove the old flapper. Carefully put your new flapper in and make sure it fits securely over the hole.
- 4Reconnect The Chain
Carefully reconnect the chain to the flapper, making sure there is enough tension in the chain so the flush will operate.
- 5Follow The Steps Above
Replace the toilet handle and ensure it’s all connected to the new flapper.
- 6Turn On The Water Supply
Replace the lid on top of the toilet and turn the water supply back on. Once the cistern has refilled, test the flush and make sure it’s all working as it should.
How To Replace Toilet Handle & Arm
If your toilet handle stays down, then you might have an issue with the arm. The lever arm connects the chain to the flapper valve, and often it will need to be replaced at the same time as the handle. This is how to fix and replace a toilet handle that stays down:
- 1Shut Off The Water
Shut off the water supply and flush the toilet to empty it. Carefully lift the porcelain lid from the toilet so you can access the mechanism.
- 2Disconnect The Chain
Disconnect the chain from the arm and disconnect the arm from the flapper valve. This should be easy enough to do by hand.
- 3Select Your New Arm
Find a replacement arm. These are available in most hardware stores but be sure to find the right size. These should be long enough to reach the chain but not so long that there isn’t enough tension in the chain to flush the toilet.
- 4Attach The New Arm
Attach the new arm to the chain and the flapper.
- 5Replace The Handle
Follow the steps further up in the guide to replace the handle.
- 6Turn On The Water
Turn the water supply back on and let the toilet fill up. Test the flush to make sure all the parts are functioning correctly. Carefully replace the toilet lid when you’re satisfied.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
What is the handle on a toilet called by a plumber?
Toilet handles are often referred to as levers or a cistern lever; however, many plumbers will just call them toilet handles.
Can you buy just a toilet handle by itself?
Yes, there’s a wide selection of toilet handles available online and in hardware stores to match any design or style.
What are some of the top-rated toilet handle brands on the market?
How long does it take to replace a toilet handle?
Toilet handles are easy to replace and can be done in under 15 minutes.
How much does it cost to replace a toilet handle?
If you're replacing the toilet handle yourself, you only need to pay for parts. Typically this will cost between $20 and $50 depending on the make and model you go for. If you ask a plumber to install it, then it will cost you more.
Are toilet handles universal?
The majority of toilet handles are universal and will work on any toilet. You should look for a style and design that matches your toilet, though.
Toilet handles are essential for a working toilet and can become damaged more easily than you might think. Thankfully, it's easy and inexpensive to replace a toilet handle yourself, and hopefully, this article has given you everything you need to do this with confidence.
Holly Curell is the editor extraordinaire for Plumbing Lab. Having grown up in Michigan, Holly has spent time living in New York, Virginia, & currently North Carolina, where she lives with her husband & family. Holly loves DIY & has years of experience with at-home plumbing problems that arise from having 3 kids & living in colder climates. When she’s not writing about her plumbing knowledge, Holly enjoys reading, hiking & relaxing with family.