How to fix a Toilet Handle that Stays Down, Doesn’t Spring Back

A properly working toilet works like magic. The moment you flush, water is released into the toilet bowl through the flapper valve as the ballcock valve opens to allow more water to refill the tank. Simultaneously, the handle should slowly get back into its upright position ready for another flush. But wait, it won’t spring back up after flushing.

More often than not, if the handle isn’t working as it is supposed to work, it means any of the toilet tank’s interior components is faulty. For instance, it could mean the chain is loose, disconnected, or too long. Basic inspection of the tank can lead you to where the issue is.

Often, these issues are very minor and can be dealt with right from home without the need to call in a plumber. Here are ideas to help you find out why the handle won’t spring back with ideas to fix it at home.

Possible Causes & How to Fix

Some of the reasons your  toilet tank handle stays down and never springs back include;

  •  A stuck handle that doesn’t easily glide back up after a flush.
  • A disconnected chain that doesn’t pull back the lever which in turn should raise the handle back.
  • A failing flapper that causes the water not to refill to its maximum capacity, therefore unable to revert to an upright position.
  • Some faults that maybe connected to the lift arm.

There could be numerous issues wrong the handle and the only way to find out what’s the problem is by looking inside the toilet tank. Here are some components to check and quick fixes.

Toilet handle problems and fixes
Toilet handle

Handle

  1. Take the cover off the toilet tank and locate the mounting nut of the handle. It should be directly opposite the handle from inside the porcelain.
  2. Take an adjustable wrench and begin removing the handle by turning the nut clockwise. You should have unhooked the chain from the arm lever by now.
  3. Remove the handle and set it aside. You can choose to return the same handle or replace the entire handle when done with the rest of the steps.
  4. Begin cleaning the inside of the tank especially where the handle was to get rid of the gummed up residue. If the handle is sticky it means after the flush, the handle cant return smoothly as it’s gummed up.
  5. Remove every speck of dirt you see.
  6. Reconnect the handle and tighten the mounting nut by turning it counterclockwise. Don’t exert too much force.

Lift Arm

  1. While still inside the tank, check the arm lever to see if it’s bent or needs some other kind of fixing. The arm should be straight measuring about 1 inch from the handle.
  2. Examine it to see that it’s not too long as it won’t be able to pull enough weight to lift the arm. If it’s long, adjust it to the right length.
  3. Check to see that it’s working well by gently twisting the handle. You may notice that some levers operate best at a horizontal angle, trimmed down, or bent. Don’t try to change that. If it’s wrongly bent, use the adjustable wrench or pliers to straighten it out.
  4. Check how the lever/ arm affects the flapper beneath. It should be slightly slack and begin to rise the moment the handle is bent downwards.
  5. The flapper should rise by now, if not, move to the next component.

The Chain

The length of the chain can significantly affect how the flush cycle occurs. A simple disconnection means the handle won’t revert to its usual state but remain down.

  1. Begin by verifying that there’s no disconnection between the lever and flapper. If there’s a disconnection, simply hook it back using the loop connector on the end.
  2. Ensure the chain is kinked and working properly.
  3. Check for any bent out shapes from the connecting chain. In case of a bend, adjust again using needle-nose pliers.
  4. Check the holes where the hook has been kept. You can adjust between the angled holes to find the right one. The distance may be half an inch or 1.27 cm of slack.
  5. If the flapper chain has a flapper chain float, make sure it’s attached to the chain by the circle clips on either side of it. Again, adjust it as close as you can. This will increase the flush cycle.

The Flapper

Lastly, check the flapper that releases water to the toilet bowl once a flush has been initiated. This will be the last course of action before you call for plumbing services. The flapper will mostly affect the speed of the refill, chain inability move, or the flush size. If the water never reaches the level it should, then the handle can get to the position it should.

Therefore, check the flapper at the base of the toilet for any leaks. This is mainly indicated when the water level in the tank is too low. Also, if the refill time is extremely long. In such a case, the flapper may need replacement as more often than not the problem will persist.

For all the components above, if you need a replacement be it the flapper or handle, make sure you get compatible and authentic toilet parts. There may be parts that classify as ‘OEM’, standing for ‘Original Equipment Manufacturer’ and ‘will-fit’.

An OEM part may fit your brand toilet regardless if it’s different, however, if it is will-fit, the company of that brand made that product specifically for that brand of toilet.

So make an informed decision and choose the right part for your toilet.

Tips to Prevent Handle Problems

Most of the toilet problems are one-off issues where you can only fix when you see it, otherwise, it’s not predictable. However, to prevent having to deal with so much plumbing work, here are a few tips to aid prevent this in the future.

  • Repair any faulty toilet part as soon as you notice they have become faulty.
  • Replace old and worn-out toilet components to avoid overworking other parts.
  • Ensure you regularly clean the inside of the toilet tank to prevent debris from sticking on it too much.
  • Don’t exert too much force as this may bend or break the chain connecting the lever and flapper.

Further Reading

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