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Toilet Doesn't Flush When Lever Is Pushed!

When I press on the handle to flush the toilet, nothing happens!!

This indicates that the trip lever is disconnected from the flapper. Look inside the bowl for a wire or chain that leads from the flapper up to the trip lever. The chain may have just disconnected from the lever, from the flapper, or the lever or chain may have broken.

If there is a break, you can check to be sure everything else is all right by physically raising the flapper. Flappers rise and float when pulled from the seat they rest in, so if you yank it up, it should do the rest of the work for you. If you get a proper flush, then you must:

  • Replacing or repair the chain, or the clip that attaches the chain to the trip lever.
  • Replace or repair the flush lever (the flush handle + trip lever = flush lever... sorry... I didn't invent this terminological jungle!).

If the flush lever is broken and you shop for a replacement, bring the old one with you!

There are three concerns you need to be aware of:

  • The inside nut on flush levers are mostly left-hand threaded, meaning that you remove the nut by turning it clockwise!
  • The body of the toilet has a molded square cutout that the handle sets into. These cutouts are not a standard size for all toilets. If the cutout is too large for the replacement handle you buy, the handle will not be stable and will turn in the opening, regardless of how tight you make the nut.
  • The length of the trip lever (the part of the flush lever that extends into the tank that the flapper chain is attached to) must be at least as long as the one you are replacing. I prefer to use the flush levers with the longest trip levers (macho thing). If at some future date you replace the flapper with another style, the longer arm may work better (see, there was a logical reason). Be sure there are no good reasons for a shorter one, such as obstructions in the tank! Then again, if you get one that is too long, you can always bite the bullet, cut it shorter, and drill out a new hole for the flapper chain (ouch!).

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