A broken toilet handle or lever is a fairly common plumbing problem. Toilet handles get tons of use and, like everything, they can eventually break and need replacement.
There are various types of toilet handles to pick from, so like with any other plumbing part purchase it is a good idea to be prepared when going to the hardware or home improvement store. The best bet is to remove the old handle and bring all the parts with you. Even though you might have a front-mount handle, for example, you... may need a model that has a certain length of arm, one with an arm that swings at a particular angle.
When replacing a handle, you're not always limited to installing exactly the same type. There are many designer handles in certain stores and available online. To see if a particular handle will work for your toilet, you can call the customer service number and give them the toilet name and model number and ask them to check compatibility.
There are also universal handles that will fit almost any toilet, no matter what type of toilet tank lever you currently have. With universal toilet handles, there are sometimes adjustments that have to be done to the handle to make them fit.
Another way to get the type of handle you need is to get one from the manufacturer of the toilet you bought. They should even have some finish options for you. Just give them the model number of toilet you have and they can give you some choices.
When removing a toilet handle, keep in mind that the nut holding the handle in place from the inside of the tank is threaded in reverse, opposite of the way you're used to. Loosening the nut means rotating it clockwise.
Here are some brief descriptions of different types of toilet handles that might help you identify which type you have.
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This is the most common type of handle. A front-mount handle is in the very front of the toilet tank, usually off to the top left-hand corner. Typically, you can spot a front-mount handle because the flush rod that fits inside the tank move parallel to the direction of the handle lever itself.
Note that just because front-mount toilet handles are the most common type does not mean that any front-mount handle will work on all toilets. When replacing a front-mount handle, measure the lever or for best results bring the old handle to the store with you to match it.
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A side-mount handle comes out at the side of the toilet tank. So, if the handle comes out perpendicular to the wall behind the toilet then you have a side mount handle. If you examine a side-mount handle, you will notice that the flush rod fitting inside the tank has a 90-degree bend in it that allows the rod to pivot up and down when the handle lever is operated.
Side mount toilet handles are less common than front-mount handles, but you should still be able to go to any hardware or home improvement store and match it up easily.
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When a toilet tank is not rectangular in shape, but instead has a little more rounded shape to it, you have what is called an angle-mount toilet handle. The angles of angle mount-toilet handles can vary, so this type of handle can be the hardest to match up.
Some replacement handles have an adjustable flush rod, allowing you to change the angle of the rod to accommodate wherever the handle is attached along the curvature of the tank. To get a replacement for this type of handle, bring the old handle with you into the store, call the manufacturer and order one from them or get a universal handle that says it covers angle-mount handles.