Broken toilet flush lever.
Toilet Won't Flush:

Fixing A Broken
Toilet Flush Lever


In This Article:

The broken toilet flush lever is unscrewed and replaced. The flush valve chain is attached to the new lever, keeping slack to a minimum.

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Skill Level: 1-2 (Basic) Time Taken: 15 minutes

By , Editor


I knew something was wrong when I flushed the toilet and the handle fell away. I could feel something "let go". Toilet handle broken, pointing straight down.


Plastic flush lever had snapped when toilet was flushed. I removed the tank lid and looked inside.

The plastic flush lever had broken.


A Temporary Fix:

For a temporary repair, I ran a plastic cable tie (or "zip tie") through one of the holes in the broken plastic lever and made a big loop.

Then I placed a wooden spoon through the zip tie and laid it across the toilet tank.

Temporary fix for broken toilet handle.


Simply lift the wooden stick to the toilet. REDNECK! To flush the toilet, I simply grabbed the stick and picked it up to lift up the flush valve, which is also called a "flapper valve".

After a couple of days of living with this redneck toilet, I finally found the time to make this simple repair.

I removed the plastic nut from the back of the handle.

This is a left-hand thread, so it's backwards from normal screw threads.

Removing nut on broken toilet handle.


Metal Threads:

Older toilets often have a metal nut and shaft on the toilet handle. On metal threads it may be necessary to use a wrench to remove the nut. Since this is a backwards (left-handed) thread and you are visualizing the fastener from inside the tank, it's easy to get mixed up. When looking at the handle from outside the tank, you would turn the nut counter-clockwise to loosen it.

Be careful... if you turn the wrong way and tighten the nut too much, it's possible to crack the vitreous china toilet tank. Replacing a tank (or entire toilet) is much more expensive than this simple repair.


Note square part of plastic handle, this fits in square tank hole. The flush handle has a square piece that fits into the square hole in the tank.


I bought this new flush lever for $7 at my local plumbing supply shop. New toilet flush lever with metal shaft.


This metal hook came with the lever, but I didn't need it because the flush valve chain had a perfectly good hook.


I simply inserted the lever through the hole in the tank. Inserting new flush lever into hole in toilet tank.


Installing left-hand-thread nut on toilet handle. Then I installed the left-hand thread nut on the back.

I only made this finger tight. Over tightening will break the plastic.


The metal lever interfered with the ball float... Flush lever interfered with float ball.


Bending metal flush lever. I bent the metal a slightly until it no longer came close to the float.


I drained the tank for these pictures, but draining the tank isn't necessary.

I removed the chain from the old plastic flush lever.

I removed the chain from the broken flush lever.


Installing chain hook in new flush lever. I hooked the chain into one of the holes in the metal lever. I chose the second-last hole.


There was a lot of slack in the chain, so I removed the hook and placed it on the chain so there was just a slight amount of slack. This left a couple of inches of excess chain (red arrow).

Note: When the chain has too much slack, it will often lay underneath the flapper valve as the flapper falls back into place. When this happens the water will continue to flow into the bowl forever, or until someone "flicks" the handle.

Keep chain slack to a minimum, leaving excess chain.


Loose Ends:

I looped the excess chain onto the hook.

I didn't just leave the extra chain dangling.

I connected the end of the dangling section of chain onto the metal hook, which created a small loop of chain (red arrow) that should stay out of the way.

Sometimes this loop of chain gets tangled with the main part of the chain. When that happens I have made a double loop, which results in a clump of chain just below the hook, and that seems to solve the problem.


Chain Length and Position May Be Important:

It's best to attach the chain so it pulls the flapper straight up, if possible. If the chain tends to pull the flapper sideways, the flexible runner may break eventually.

If the chain is hooked to the end-most hole in the lever, the lever might hit the tank lid before the chain is able to lift up the flapper.

When I repair the lever or flapper valve, I always do a few test flushes to make sure the linkage is working properly and the chain is not interfering with the closing of the flapper.


By The Way...

Since there was no stop valve in the supply line serving this toilet, I rigged up this easy way to turn off the water. I just laid that wooden spoon across the top of the tank and used a zip tie (cable tie) to keep the float arm up.

When I flushed the toilet, the ball stayed up as though the tank was full of water, and the tank didn't fill up again.

Easy way to shut off toilet water supply when there is no water shutoff valve.


Normal toilet operation.

During normal toilet operation, the flapper valve falls down when it can no longer stay afloat.

On many 1.6 gallon-per-flush toilets, more water can be forced into the bowl by simply holding the handle up while the toilet flushes.

As soon as the water level drops, the float (the round black ball) falls down and the fill valve opens, letting water into the tank.


Job done.

Note how the tank has a curvature to the front. This curvature places the flush lever on an angle, and that's why I had to bend the metal lever.

This is a good example of why a metal flush lever is better than a plastic lever.

Inside the toilet tank.


More Info:

Tools Used:

  • Pliers or Wrench (optional)

Materials Used:

  • Toilet Flush Lever, Metal
  • Cable Ties (Optional)
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Written February 6, 2008