How to Fix a Stuck Toilet Handle

  • 01 of 05


    Steve Hallo

    "You have to hold the handle down." How many times have we all heard that while visiting someone's home? The "stuck" toilet handle is something that occurs for no obvious reason, although the cause is remarkably simple. It's a common toilet problem that's easy to fix.

    You may be able to understand what is happening if you simply remove the lid from the toilet and watch the parts in action as you depress the toilet handle. Under proper operating circumstances, the flush...MORE arm pulls on a lift chain that lifts the flapper up away from the flush valve to initiate the flush.

    But when there is too much slack in the chain, the flush arm cannot lift the flapper high enough to start the flush cycle--unless you hold the handle down. If you don't hold the handle, the flapper drops back into the flush valve and the flush cycle never really gets underway. This creates the sensation that the handle is "stuck," though this is not exactly what is happening. 

    As plumbing problems go, this is one of the very easiest to fix.

    Difficulty Level

    • Very easy

    Tools and Materials You Will Need

    • Nothing but your hands
    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Turn Off the Water

    Steve Hallo

    Turn off the water at the fixture shut-off valve, which is usually located near the left side of the toilet tank, where the water supply pipe comes up through the floor or out from the wall. If you don't have a shut-off valve near the toilet, don't worry about it: you can easily fix this problem without shutting the water off at all, though you will get your hands wet while doing it. 

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Unhook the Chain and Measure for Repositioning

    Steve Hallo

    Flush the toilet to empty the tank of water.  Unhook the chain from the flush arm. There is a small clip that holds the chain to the flush arm. 

    With the flush arm in the down position, pull the chain taut against the arm, but make sure the flapper is still seated in the flush valve. With the chain lined up against the holes in the flush arm, mark the link closest to the hole directly above the flush valve. 

    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Move the Hook

    Steve Hallo

    Place the chain hook into this link on the flush chain. It is best to have just a little slack to ensure that the flapper will seat firmly into the flush valve. 

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Check the Slack

    Steve Hallo

    With the hook back on the arm, check the slack in the chain when you operate the toilet handle. When the handle is depressed, the flapper should lift into a nearly vertical position so you can see the bottom of the flapper. When you release the handle, the flapper should settle down into the flush valve, with just a small amount of slack in the chain.

    Turn the water back on (if you turned it off). Let the tank fill back up and test your work. If the handle is still sticking, you can take more...MORE slack out of the chain. Don't worry if it takes a little trial and error to find just the right amount of slack.