How to fix a broken toilet flapper valve and lift chain by replacing the broken items with new parts.

“Dad! The toilet handle is broken and it won’t flush!” Probably an easy fix I thought to myself. Better check it out to be sure.

I removed the cover from the toilet tank and saw that the lift chain connecting the handle to the flapper valve had broken. It was 5 years old and not surprising. A new flapper valve and lift chain costs about $5 and installs in minutes.

Broken Toilet Handle Lift Chain

The broken plastic lift chain is obvious in the following photo. Don’t worry about the brown sediment on the bottom of the tank, it’s minerals that have precipitated out of the water over the years. The toilet tank contains clean uncontaminated water.

Broken Toilet Flush Lift Chain

Broken Toilet Flush Lift Chain

How to Fix a Broken Toilet Flapper Valve and Lift chain

My toilet has ballcock (or float-ball) toilet fill valves, which are really old technology. Also see How to Replace a Toilet Fill Valve to replace the old ballcock fill valve with a new Fluidmaster Whisper Valve.

Materials and Tools

  • Korky Flapper Valve which includes the lift chain. It’s widely available at hardware and home improvement stores.
  • Pliers

Install the Toilet Handle Lift Chain

The Korky installation manual is available here in addition to the following photos and tips.

The new flapper valve and chain for a 1.6 gallon per flush toilet.

New Korky Flapper Valve

New Korky Flapper Valve

Step 1: Shutoff the water supply valve to the toilet.

Water Supply Valve

Water Supply Valve

Step 2: Remove the old flapper valve by slipping it off the mounting arms. Remove what’s left of the broken lift chain from the lift arm.

Old Flapper Valve and Lift Chain

Old Flapper Valve and Lift Chain

Step 3: Adjust the lift chain by moving the metal clip to take out the slack when the lift arm is down with flapper valve is closed. I adjust the clip such that there is one extra link of slack. This avoids leaks and provides for a positive flushing action. Too much slack will allow the chain to kink and interfere with the flapper valve.

Adjust New Lift Chain

Adjust New Lift Chain

Step 4: Open the water valve to fill the tank. Flush the toilet to check for correct operation. If needed, readjust the lift chain by moving the metal clip up or down a couple of links. When you’re satisfied, cut off the excess lift chain to prevent it from getting tangled. I like to leave an extra 3 links in case a later adjustment is needed. Replace the tank cover.

Cut off Excess Lift Chain

Cut off Excess Lift Chain

Hope this helps.

Bob Jackson

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