The handle that flushes our toilet broke.
I’ve chronicled before how I am reluctant to call a plumber ever since we had a particularly ridiculous and pricey plumber visit. Replacing the toilet flusher seemed like a quite-possible DIY project. Mark went to the local hardware store with the broken flusher pieces and bought a “Universal Cut to Fit Tank Lever” for $3.43.
Do you remember the game show that ran in the 1980s called Press Your Luck? The one where contestants watched a lighted box move around a big animated board depicting various amounts of cash and types of prizes and had to depress this big sort of plunger thing to stop the lighted box moving? Wherever the box stopped, the contestant won that prize. But the drama in the game was to avoid the “Whammies” — bad boxes on the board that made a contestant lose. Anyhow, what I remember is that the contestants played the big board by repeatedly yelling “NO WHAMMIES, NO WHAMMIES,” as they waited to depress the plunger, followed by a spirited, “YAY!” once they’d safely avoided the whammies. This is how I felt about repairing my toilet’s flusher — “NO PLUMBER, NO PLUMBER!”
So here’s what I did to replace the tank lever:
Step 1: Turn off the water to the toilet. Open the flapper located at the bottom of the toilet to let all the water drain out. I promise this is the only time you’ll have to put your hand in the toilet tank water.
Step 2: Remove the broken lever. Our tank’s old lever was on pretty tightly, so I grabbed an adjustable wrench which may not really be an adjustable wrench but that’s what it looks like to me, and unscrewed the shank nut located immediately behind the lever.
Step 3: Thread the new tank lever through the flusher hole in the toilet tank (starting from the front of the tank). You’ll need to take off the shank nut first by pulling it down off the lever arm (it took me way too long to figure that out).
Step 4: Put the shank nut back on the lever arm and bring it back up to the top of the flusher apparatus.
Step 5: Hand tighten the shank nut by turning it clockwise. Don’t tighten it too much — the flusher handle might end up sticking or you could do damage to the toilet tank.
Step 6: Connect the flapper chain to the lever arm, paying attention to how much slack you need in the chain in order for it to flush properly.
Step 7: Turn the water back on to the toilet. Flush the toilet to make the tank fill back up with water.
That’s it. Inexpensive, easy, and quick (except for the several minutes I spent trying to figure out how to get the shank nut off the lever arm, but since now I’ve told you what to do, it should take you mere seconds).
And the best part about the whole repair was NO PLUMBER, NO PLUMBER, NO PLUMBER, YAY!