If your toilet handle feels loose, it may be slack or wiggle slightly when you try to use it. This can be annoying, but it can also affect how your toilet flushes even if you don’t have any underlying plumbing problems. Fixing a loose toilet handle is a very simple task; in many cases, it can be tightened, but in other cases, it may need to be replaced. In this article, we will explain how to tighten and replace a loose toilet flush handle.
7 Steps to Tighten a Loose Toilet Handle
Make sure the toilet seat cover is closed to avoid losing any loose parts in the toilet bowl.
Take off the toilet tank cover. This can be heavy, so use both hands to avoid losing your grip and causing an injury or damage. Set the toilet tank cover aside on a flat surface to ensure that it cannot fall over and crack.
Locate the water shut-off valve for your toilet. This is typically allocated near the base of the toilet or above it on the wall. Then turn the water shut-off valve to the off position to prevent the toilet tank from re-filling after flushing. Press the toilet flush handle to empty the water storage tank, and you can now work without getting your hands wet.
Take a look inside the toilet tank for a metal nut that should be located next to the flushing handle. The typical location is on the opposing side of the tank from the handle. This metal nut is the usual cause of a loose flushing handle, and this is the part that we need to tighten up.
Take a small adjustable wrench and use it to turn the nut in a clockwise direction until it feels snug and tight. But, please be careful, do not over tighten the nut, or you could easily crack the side of the porcelain tank. This can lead to a far larger problem that could cost a great deal of money. Err on the side of caution and only tighten the nut until it starts to feel tighter, and this should suffice.
It’s time to test the toilet flush level to make sure it feels tight enough. It should feel much better to use, but if there is still a problem, you can tighten it a little more. If the toilet flush handle still feels bad, it may need to be replaced, and we will cover this in detail below.
If the toilet handle is working well, you can restore the water supply, place the tank cover back in place, and you’re done!
10 Steps to Replace a Loose Toilet Handle
It will be necessary to do some research to work out the hardware that you need. Look up your toilet model online, search by brand, make, and model. This will help you to find the exact type of toilet handles to fit your existing toilet. If you shop around, you will notice that many hardware stores sell universal toilet handles that may work well. If you’re in any doubt, take your existing handle and compare it to the handle that you’re interested in and ask an in-store expert for advice.
Once you have the toilet handle, follow the steps detailed above to turn off the water supply, and remove the toilet tank cover.
Take a look inside the toilet tank and located the chain that attaches the toilet flush handle to the flushing lever. This is a small chain that connects the flapper to the handle, and it can be detached easily.
Now it’s time to remove the mounting nut, which is the same nut that you needed to tighten if the handle was simply loose as detailed above. This is easy to remove with a pair of pliers, simply turn the nut clockwise and remove it.
Now that the mounting nut and chain have been removed, you should be able to remove the handle easily. It may be necessary to move the handle to a few different angles to pull it free, but this is typical. Once you’re happy with your new toilet handle, you can simply throw the old one in the trash.
Remove the new handle from the packaging, unscrew the attached mounting nut and keep it somewhere safe. This nut could be plastic or metal, both are fine, but you cannot screw and unscrew a plastic nut using a pair of pliers. If you have a plastic mounting nut, use an adjustable wrench when installing your new toilet handle.
Place the new handle in the tank in the same way that you got the old handle out. When the handle fits flush with the side of the toilet tank, you have found the right position.
Make the new toilet handle secure with the supplied mounting nut, and don’t forget to turn the turn counter-clockwise. Again, please avoid over tightening to prevent damage to the side of your porcelain toilet tank.
Now take the chain and attach it to the holes located in the lever. There are a few holes to select, and you need some slack in the chain to get an efficient flush. It may be necessary to try out a few different holes to find the exact chain length to meet your needs.
Now it’s time to test the new handle, restore the water supply, flush the toilet, and it should work. If you experience any lack of performance or a rattling sound, adjust the chain length. If the handle feels loose, you need to tighten the mounting nut a little to make the new toilet handle more secure. If everything is working well, you’re done.
Following these two sets of instructions should allow most people to tighten or change a loose toilet handle. But, if you’re not confident using tools or working on plumbing fixtures, it’s time to contact a local certified plumber. They can carry out this task easily, and you can get other plumbing maintenance work carried out at the same time.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.