Do It Yourself: Replacing A Toilet Handle

A jiggling toilet flush handle can drive a person crazy if it goes unchecked for any length of time. Here are some tips for replacing it.

Do you have a toilet handle that jiggles all the time? Although the noise can drive you crazy, maybe you can't afford a plumber to make it stop. This could be an easy home repair job when you follow a few simple instructions.

The tools you will need for this job are an adjustable wrench, a flat tip screwdriver, lubricating spray, and a hacksaw. Assemble the tools on a towel or newspaper in the bathroom. The first thing to do is turn off the water to the toilet. Often there is a shut off valve behind the toilet near the bottom of the base. If you don't have one there, you will have to turn off the water in the basement at the main shut off valve.

To adjust the toilet handle, you will need to remove the top of the tank and set it out of the way so you will have plenty of room to work. On the other side of the handle inside the tank, you will need to check to see how tight the nut is. You can tighten it by taking the adjustable wrench and turning it counterclockwise. Don't over-tighten the nut or you will crack or break part of the toilet, or even strip the nut.

Some toilets have a lift chain. To adjust the chain, remove it from the hook and move it down further. Just make sure you leave a little slack. If you have a lift wire, you can adjust it with a screwdriver until the guide arm moves freely. Or you will need to lift the tank ball higher by bending the wire. If none of that works, you may need to replace the toilet handle by getting a new one. Get rid of most water in the tank by flushing the toilet two or three times. Next, lift the wire or chain from the trip lever. Now take your adjustable wrench and loosen the nut on the inside part of the handle by turning clockwise and then remove the handle and trip lever.

When you go to buy a new trip lever, try to get one the same size. If you can't find one that is the same as the old one, use your hacksaw to cut the old one the same length. Now put the new handle and trip lever back together, but don't tighten the nut tight yet. Connect the wire or chain to the trip lever and leave a little slack. Take your adjustable wrench and finish tightening the nut. Don't over-tighten it. Replace the top on the tank. Now you can turn the water back on and flush the toilet to be sure the handle works properly.

If the handle no longer jiggles, your efforts were successful. Put away the tools and breathe a sigh of relief. But if the jiggling still occurs, you may need to consult a plumber after all. Keep both old and new handles to show the plumber, since maybe one of them can be adjusted for a better fit.

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