The Best Way To Fix A Stuck Handle On A Toilet

The toilet is easily one of — if not the single most important appliance in your home. So much so, that you'll likely spend as much as a year and a half of your life on it, according to Immerse. Since your toilet is such an important appliance, it's vital to do all you can to maintain and upkeep it. This includes routine maintenance and frequent cleaning.

Still, despite your best efforts, things can still go wrong. Unlike a leaky faucet or faulty air conditioner, though, it can be very frustrating if your toilet stops working. The handle getting stuck, for example, is nothing to write off. As Greatist warns, not flushing your toilet can lead to hard-to-clean mineral deposits, as well as potentially spreading bacteria around the bathroom. While you still may be able to flush the toilet without your handle working, it's more difficult, and you may cause additional problems or even damage the porcelain.

How toilets work

Before diving into repairs, it's a good idea to know how a toilet actually works. Having a layout of what part of the toilet does what can do wonders, not only in helping you fix your stuck handle but also in troubleshooting future problems, too. The process of flushing, of course, starts with the handle, making it one of the most important pieces of the puzzle.

According to Landmark Home Warranty, the handle is attached to a lever. When you push the handle down, it lifts the lever and subsequently lifts an attached chain. This chain leads to something known as the flapper, which is a rubber stopper that prevents water from exiting or entering the toilet tank. When the handle is pushed down, this flapper lifts, flushing the bowl below with clean water. The tank then fills back up, allowing the process to be repeated. If the handle isn't working, and you need to flush the toilet in an emergency, simply remove the tank lid and pull up the chain and flapper.

Fixing the handle

According to Home Depot, one possible cause of your handle being stuck is the mounting handle nut being too tight. If this is the case, turn off the water supply valve, remove the lid, and grab an adjustable wrench to loosen it a little bit. Check to see if the handle now moves — ideally, simply loosening this nut should do the trick.

If not, the issue is probably in the handle itself, in which case you'll need to replace it. This process is also incredibly simple — the most complicated part is ensuring you purchase the correct handle. Home Depot advises that you check to make sure your new handle can be used on the correct side of the toilet, and isn't left- or right-exclusive. Also, check to make sure it's a compatible design.

While you have the tank lid off, simply loosen the nut all the way, remove the lift chain from the lever (you may want to drain your tank for this,) and slot the new handle where the old one was, tightening it into place. Then, reattach the chain, and try flushing it a few times to make sure the chain doesn't have too much or too little slack.