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Handyman 101: Replacing a Toilet Handle

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A good thing to learn is how to replace a toilet handle.

Whether it is busted, rusted, cracked, or you just want to put a new one on, here are a few do-it-yourself tips.

Fortunately, replacing a toilet handle is fairly inexpensive and easy to do.

Remove the Tank Lid

toilet tank diagram with handle

The first thing you’ll need to do is clean anything off the back of the toilet and remove the lid.

It’s best if you spread out a towel and place it on there – somewhere out of the way.

Lids are made of porcelain, so be careful not to drop it, or knock into it, when you’re working.

Inside the tank there will be a model name and number. Jot it down.

This could save you some time when you go into the store to purchase the handle.

Unhook the lift chain

There will be a long arm inside the tank.

On the end of it, there will be a chain attached that lifts the flush valve. Unhook the chain from the hole.

Just remember which hole you unhooked the chain from so you can reattach it to the same one when you’re done.

Remove the old handle

You’ll want to go grab your crescent wrench to remove the nut inside the tank that’s holding the handle sturdy.

In many cases, this nut will turn clockwise as you loosen it – the opposite of most other nuts.

Be gentle not to slip and bang the wrench into the porcelain. It can crack easily.

Once the nut is loosened, slide the arm through the hole.

Buy the replacement handle

Technically, the part you want to buy is called a “toilet trip lever,” which includes the handle and swing arm inside of the package.

For typical models, this won’t cost more than $20.

Go to the plumbing section of most any hardware store with your toilet’s brand name and model number, and look for the matching handle.

To save time if there are any problems, you can bring your old handle to the store in case you need to look at it.

Put on the new handle

Before putting the new handle on, it’s advised to clean any excess residue, mildew, or rust stains off the porcelain around the handle hole.

There will be a nut on the new handle. Remove this.

Insert the arm into the hole, and then slide the nut back over the arm.

At first, use your hand to turn it until it’s time to use the crescent wrench to snug it up tight. Do not over-tighten or the porcelain could crack.

Reattach the chain

Find the same hole the chain was attached to, and reattach it to the arm.

It’s best to do some test flushes, and make sure the flush mechanism opens and closes fully each time.

If the chain is hooked to the wrong hole, making it too loose, the tank won’t drain properly. If it’s too tight, the flush valve will leak.

Adjust the chain up or down a link or two until the flush works properly again.

Once you’re happy, gently place the tank lid back on. Good luck!


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