How to Fix a Stuck Toilet Handle
Have you ever visited someone’s house, like your grandparents, and as you were entering the bathroom, they yelled, “Don’t forget to jiggle the handle,” or “make sure to hold the handle down!” These phrases are often used when a toilet handle is presumed to be stuck and needs a little extra encouragement to do its job.
The toilet handle is probably not stuck. In fact, the toilet handle has very little to do with the problem. Unless a nut in the toilet handle is loose and has become separated, or the lever inside has become corroded and therefore won’t budge – the problem lies elsewhere.
The best way to figure out what is going on with the handle is to take the lid off the tank and look inside. Flush the toilet, like you normally would, without the jiggle, and watch what happens. You will discover that the need to jiggle or hold down the handle usually indicates that you need to adjust the chain inside the toilet tank.
The chain connects the lever, also known as the flush arm, to the flapper. When you push the toilet handle down, it lifts the lever, which lifts the chain, which lifts the flapper and allows the water to exit the tank. However, when the chain is too loose, the flapper doesn’t get lifted high enough to allow the toilet to flush. Holding the handle down would keep the flapper upright, therefore solving the problem. The same is true for jiggling the handle. Jiggling the handle also jiggles the flapper up and down, increasing the chances that it would be raised high enough to allow the toilet to flush.
Another reason people jiggle the handle is to stop a running toilet. When the chain is too loose or too long, it can get caught between the flapper and the valve. This will cause the toilet to continuously run. This means the tank is continuously leaking into the toilet bowl.
To solve both of these problems, you need to adjust the chain. Good news! Adjusting the chain is super easy and something you can do yourself.
How to Adjust The Toilet Chain:
- Turn the water off . . . or don’t: In order to adjust the toilet chain, you are obviously going to need to get your hands into the tank and manipulate the toilet chain. If you don’t want to stick your hands into the tank water, then you will need to drain the tank. In order to do that, you will need to first turn off the water supply to the toilet tank. To do this, locate the shutoff valve. The shut-off valve is usually where the water supply pipe comes up through the floor or out of the wall. Once you have turned off the water supply, flush the toilet, and the tank will drain. If you can’t locate the shutoff valve, then you need to prepare to get your hands wet. Most people are grossed out by the idea of sticking their hands in the tank water, but this is kind of ridiculous. The water in the tank is fresh water. It is the same water that comes out of your sink or shower head. However, if you put cleaners in the tank, then you may really want to find that shut-off valve.
- Measure the chain: A hook or clip connects the chain to the lever/flush arm. Unhook the chain from the flush arm and place the arm in the down position (like you were pushing the toilet handle down). With the flush arm down and the flapper down, pull the chain straight up, with no slack, and align the chain with the nearest hole in the flush arm. Make note of the hole and the link that is right below that hole. You can do this by pinching the link with your fingers.
- Hook the chain: Move the hook or clip to the pinched link, and then hook the chain to the flush arm.
- Check slack: The hook/clip should have provided enough slack to allow the flapper to sit firmly over the flush valve. However, it should also be taught enough that when you push down the toilet handle, you no longer need to jiggle or hold the handle. Lastly, make sure that the chain hanging from the other side of the hook isn’t too long, with the potential of getting stuck between the flapper and the valve. If it is, you will need to cut the chain or be creative and hook it elsewhere on the lever (think paper clips).
- Check the job: To make sure that everything is now operating correctly, first turn the water back on at the shut-off valve. Let the tank fill, and flush the toilet. If you still need to hold the handle down to get a full flush, then move the hook down one link in the chain to remove slack and try again.
It may take a couple of tries to get it right, but when you are done, you will have fixed a really annoying problem and potentially overcome your fear of toilet tank water! If this still didn’t solve the problem, maybe there really is something wrong with your toilet handle – or your toilet. If you need help with this DIY project, feel free to give us a call – we can probably help you over the phone. If you think the problem isn’t the chain, then schedule an appointment with one of our expert technicians at Liberty Plumbing. Whether your toilet needs a replacement part or you need a new toilet, we have the right tools and know-how to get the job done.
How to Avoid Frequent Toilet Problems
Because plumbing problems can cause a lot of damage, it is important to prevent them from happening as often as possible. The main way you can do this is by properly maintaining your toilet. A few tips for avoiding continuous toilet problems are:
Schedule Regular Maintenance
This means that you should keep up with regular maintenance for your toilet. Make sure to check the chain, flapper, and other parts of the toilet on a monthly basis. If any of the parts are not working correctly or need to be replaced, do so as soon as possible. You should also have a licensed plumber inspect your toilet and the rest of your plumbing system at least once a year.
Clean Your Toilet
It is important to clean your toilet regularly and make sure that it is free of any buildup or debris. Additionally, inspect your toilet for mold, mildew, and corrosion. These can be an indication of a larger plumbing issue that needs to be addressed by a professional.
Avoid Flushing Non-flushable Items
Try not to flush anything other than human waste and toilet paper down the toilet as this can cause clogs or other plumbing issues. This is one of the most common causes of toilet problems and should be avoided. Here’s a list of some of the items people assume can be flushed down the toilet.
Diapers: You may think it’s okay to flush a diaper down the toilet, but it is not. Diapers will swell up and cause clogs in your sewer lines.
Condoms: Many people are under the misconception that condoms can be flushed down the toilet. They cannot, as they will cause clogs in your pipes and could damage your septic system.
Grease: Grease is a liquid when it’s hot, but it quickly cools off and hardens in your pipes, causing major clogs.
Baby Wipes: Even if they say “flushable” on the packaging, baby wipes should not be flushed down the toilet. They do not dissolve properly and can cause major clogs in your plumbing system.
Medication: While it may be an easy way to flush expired or unused medication down the toilet, you should never do this at home or anywhere else for that matter. Not only can this cause clogs in your pipes, but it can also lead to water contamination and other environmental issues.
Following these tips can help avoid frequent toilet problems and keep your home’s plumbing running smoothly. If you are having any issues with your toilet or plumbing system, contact Liberty Plumbing Heating And Air Conditioning for reliable and professional service. Our team of experts is here to help!
Do You Need Help With Any Plumbing Issues?
If you need help with your toilet handle or any other plumbing issue, Liberty Plumbing Heating And Air Conditioning is ready to help – whenever and wherever you are. We offer 24/7 emergency service and same-day appointments, so don’t hesitate to call us as soon as you notice a problem. Our technicians have the knowledge and experience to diagnose and fix all types of plumbing problems quickly and efficiently. Call us now at (951) 760-4215 to schedule an appointment and get your plumbing working right in no time! We look forward to helping you with all of your plumbing needs.