hot to Fix a Leaking Toilet Handle4 min read

A leaking toilet handle is a common problem owners may see with their toilets, and it’s one you should get fixed quickly. Leaking toilet handles can cause water damage and result in high water bills that could become a major problem.

A leaky toilet handle can be caused by a worn-out toilet float, loose handle, or tangled chain. You can fix these issues yourself by checking the water level, ensuring the water float isn’t old or damaged, and tightening the handle. If that doesn’t work, call a professional plumber for help.

Let’s take a closer look at leaking toilet handles, including all the reasons it may happen, what you can do to fix it yourself, and when it’s time to call in the professionals.

Reasons Your Toilet Handle Is Leaking

There are several reasons why your toilet handle may be leaking, and the first step to getting a repair done is to diagnose the issue. Here are some possible causes of a leaky toilet handle.

Worn-Out Toilet Float

Over time, the toilet float in the fill valve that seals the toilet tank can become worn or damaged. This can cause water to leak out of the tank and into the bowl, leading to a running toilet. If the toilet float is cracked or broken, this can also be the issue.

Loose Handle

If the handle is loose, it might cause water to leak out of the tank and into the bowl. The handle needs to be tightened to solve this problem.

Corroded Lift Arm

The lift arm is the metal rod that connects the toilet handle to the fill valve. If the lift arm is corroded, it may not be able to properly lift the valve, causing water to leak into the bowl.

Broken Chain

The chain that connects the handle to the toilet float can become tangled or kinked, preventing the flapper valve from sealing properly.

Supplies You’ll Need for Repair

There are the supplies you may need for repair:

  • A plunger (on Amazon) to clear any blockages in the toilet before you start
  • Adjustable pliers (on Amazon) to remove and tighten the nuts that hold the handle in place
  • A screwdriver (on Amazon) to remove screws that hold the handle and its components in place
  • Replacement parts (which could involve the float, chain, or something else)
  • Rags or paper towels to clean up any spillage

You should note that the exact supplies you’ll need depend on the cause of the issue, which is why you need to diagnose the problem before attempting to fix it.

How to Adjust the Water Fill Level

One important thing before going ahead is to check the water fill level because if it’s too high or too low, this can cause problems—like leaks. You can follow these steps to do it.

1. Locate the Shut Off Valve

Locate the shut-off valve near the base of the toilet and turn it clockwise to turn off the water supply.

Toilet Shut Off Valve
My toilet shut-off valve is located to the back left of the toilet.

2. Flush the Toilet

You need to flush the toilet next. This will empty the tank so you can easily see the water level.

3. Find the Toilet Float

The toilet float in the fill valve is part of the toilet that controls the water flow into the tank. It’s usually located at the back of the toilet tank.

Toilet Float Valve

4. Adjust the Water Level

There’s usually a screw or lever on the fill valve that allows you to adjust the water level. Turning the screw or lever clockwise will lower the water level while turning it counterclockwise will raise it. Adjust the water level until it’s about an inch below the top of the overflow pipe.

After that, you can turn the water supply back on and test the toilet by flushing again.

How to Check the Float

You need to check the float for damage to ensure that isn’t the cause of your leak. Here’s how to do it.

Start by turning off the water supply and flushing the toilet just like the steps above, then locate the fill valve before starting the steps below.

Look for a Ball or Cylinder

The float is usually a ball or a cylinder that is attached to the fill valve with a rod or a chain. It should be floating freely on the surface of the water in the tank. If the float is stuck or damaged, it might not be able to control the water level properly.

Toilet Float

Check the Chain

Make sure the rod or chain that connects the float to the fill valve is not kinked or tangled. If it is, it may prevent the float from moving freely and cause the water level to be too high or too low.

If you don’t see any damage, you can turn the water back on and test it by flushing the toilet.

Other Ways to Repair

Another way to repair the toilet is to tighten a loose water handle (I also wrote an article on how to fix a toilet handle that’s stuck). Follow these steps to do that, but first, make sure you turn off the water and flush before doing anything else. 

Then, find the handle. It’s usually located on the outside of the toilet tank, near the top, on most toilets, and shouldn’t be too difficult to locate. It should be held in place by two nuts that are located on the inside of the tank.

Toilet Handle Nut

Use an adjustable wrench or pliers to tighten the nuts if they are loose. Make sure you don’t over-tighten the nuts, as this can damage the handle or the tank. You can then turn the water back on and flush it several times to ensure it’s repaired

When to Hire a Plumber

There are a few reasons it might be a good idea to hire a plumber rather than do the job yourself.

The first is when you’ve tried all of the fixes above, and it’s still leaking. A leaking toilet handle could be caused by a deeper issue, and it’s critical to get it fixed because it can cause water damage if it leaks through the floor. Don’t delay when calling a plumber in for a fix.

The second reason it’s a good time to call a plumber is if you aren’t confident handling these fixes on your own.

While it is certainly possible to DIY fix your toilet, you don’t have to do it if you’re worried you may not do the best job, and a professional plumber should be happy to diagnose, assess, and repair the situation for you.

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Hi, I'm Ed, and I run BuildFanatic! I enjoy providing the best possible information on a range of home improvement topics.

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