Step-by-step instructions – with pictures – for installing a new toilet tank lever!
The tank lever (handle) on a toilet is held in place by a locknut, which is made out of plastic. Over time the plastic threads securing the locknut can wear down, causing the tank lever to loosen. Eventually this can make flushing the toilet difficult.
Fortunately, replacing the tank lever is an easy DIY plumbing project and can be wrapped up in under 10 minutes! All you’ll need is a new tank lever, which costs around $15. I’m using this Fluidmaster Perfect Fit Premium Toilet Lever, which comes in three colors (Brushed Nickel, Chrome, and Oil-Rubbed Bronze):
Step 1: Shut off water to the toilet
Locate the water shutoff valve – typically located behind and toward the bottom of the toilet. Turn the valve clockwise (until you can’t turn it anymore) to stop the flow of water to the toilet:
Step 2: Empty all of the water from the toilet tank
Replacing a tank lever requires unhooking the chain that runs from the flapper to the tank lever. This is easiest to do if all of the water has been drained from the toilet tank. The best way to do this is to flush the toilet after shutting off water to it, which will quickly empty most of the water from the tank. A little water might still be in the bottom of the tank after flushing – that’s perfectly fine! We don’t need all of the water out of the tank.
Step 3: Unhook the chain that runs from the flapper to the tank lever
Inside the toilet tank, the existing tank lever (white arrow) is connected to the flapper (magenta arrow) by a chain (blue arrow). You’ll need to unhook this chain so you can remove the lever:
Step 4: Unscrew and remove the existing tank lever
The toilet handle/flusher is on the outside of the toilet tank. Directly opposite of it (inside the tank) is a locknut (blue arrow in the below picture) that secures the lever and handle/flusher to the tank. Unscrew this locknut to remove the existing tank lever:
Note that this locknut might have been forcefully (and probably excessively) fastened to the tank, so it can sometimes be difficult to remove. If this is the case for you, simply use a pair of pliers to loosen the locknut.
Step 5: Insert the new lever mount and hand-tighten with the new locknut
The Fluidmaster Perfect Fit Premium Toilet Lever has a component called a lever mount (blue arrow in the below picture). This gets inserted into the hole in the tank where the previous handle/flusher used to be. Then screw the new locknut (white arrow in the below picture) onto the lever mount to secure the lever mount to the toilet tank. The locknut is meant to be hand-tightened – you don’t need to use pliers for this otherwise you might strip or break the locknut (which is made out of plastic).
Step 6: Insert the lever arm into the lever mount
Rotate and adjust the new lever arm (magenta arrow in the below picture) until it fits into the lever mount. Note that you want to angle the lever arm downward slightly (toward the flapper/bottom of the tank). When the handle/flusher is used to flush the toilet, the lever arm will rotate upward to lift the chain running to the flapper. If you don’t angle the lever arm downward slightly, the arm will hit against the tank lid when you flush the toilet.
Once the lever arm is in a good position, click the arm into the lever mount to lock the lever arm in place.
Step 7: Add the trim and handle/flusher
Place the trim over the lever mount, then insert the handle/flusher into the trim. Click to lock the handle/trim in place.
Step 8: Reattach the chain from the flapper to the new tank lever
Take the chain that’s attached to the flapper and hook it onto a slot in the new tank lever arm. It’s recommended to leave approximately 1/2 inch slack in the chain. There’s a bit of trial-and-error involved until you find an appropriate length for the chain. Use the handle/flusher to “flush” the toilet to check if the chain length is sufficient.
Step 9: Turn on water to the toilet
With the new tank lever installed, you’re almost done! You just need to turn the water back on and make sure the tank flushes with water properly. Return to the water shutoff valve and turn the valve counter-clockwise (until you can’t turn it anymore) to restore the flow of water to the toilet.
After the tank has refilled with water, flush the toilet once or twice more to make sure the new tank lever is working. If everything looks good, replace the toilet tank lid and you’re all done!
Did you replace the tank lever? Was this guide useful? Let me know in the comments below!
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