What to do if your toilet won’t finish its flush

Submitted by Steve Cloninger, owner of Get It Done Home Repairs & Maintenance

Many homeowners have likely dealt with a problem toilet – one where you have to hold down the lever to make a complete flush. This can be a source of frustration, especially when nothing appears to be wrong. There are a couple of possibilities, however, and the fix might be an easy one.

Inside the toilet there is a chain that connects the flushing handle to the flapper – the covering which is usually at the bottom of the tank where the water drains out. Sometimes, the chain has too much play in it. It should only have a small amount of slack. If it has too much slack, the flapper may not raise up all the way when the handle is pushed. If it doesn't have any slack, it may not let the flapper rest all the way completely down.

Try adjusting it. First, turn the water off to the toilet by closing the shut-off valve, which is located under the toilet tank where the water comes out of the wall. Turn the valve clockwise to stop the water flow. Then unhook the pin at the end of the handle bar.

Put the pin down a few links in the chain towards the flapper, making it slightly shorter in length. Reinstall the hook or pin onto the end of the handle. You'll then need to turn your toilet shut-off valve back on, let the tank fill up and see if this did the trick. If not, you may need to adjust it a little more.

If the chain adjustment doesn’t completely fix the problem, there is one more thing to check. Look at how the flapper is attached to the tank. It should have either ears or a ring attachment. The ears will be on either side of a tube which stands in the toilet – it’s the tube where the water goes down when the toilet is filling up. These ears are small pieces that stick out slightly and the collar of the flapper fits into the ears.

A different way of attaching the flapper to this tube is by a ring on the flapper which goes over the tube and rests on the bottom. Both the ears and the ring are designed to keep the flapper in place. You should have one or the other. If you have both, the flapper gets into a bind and won’t operate freely. If that is the case, remove the ring and use only the ears.

Cloninger is the owner and founder of Get It Done Home Repairs and Maintenance, which is in its 16th year of business. They have received the Angie’s List Super Service award each year since 2004. Cloninger is a regular contributor to the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” newspaper.

As of Aug. 3, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.

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