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HANDYMAN Q&A

New Lift Chain May Make Toilet Flush With Success

May 14, 2000|From Popular Mechanics

Question: My toilet suddenly started acting up. I either have to hold down the handle for three seconds before it flushes or quickly snap it to flush. Otherwise too little water flows to flush. What can I do?

Answer: There is probably too much slack in the lift chain. When you flip the handle, the rubber flapper lifts only slightly off the flush valve seat. The pressure of the water on the flapper causes it to reseat on the flush valve, stopping water flow.

By holding the handle for three seconds, you are holding the flapper off the valve seat so that the water will flow into the bowl. The water rushing past the flapper holds it up after you release the handle. It also flushes when you snap the handle quickly because the jerky action forces the flapper up to a point where water flowing into the flush valve holds the flapper open after you release the handle.

There are several causes for a slack lift chain. The chain may be slightly rusted, the hook connecting the chain to the trip lever may have stretched or the flapper may be deteriorating.

Regardless of the cause, the correction is simple: Eliminate the excessive slack in the chain. Do this by moving the chain hook to a different hole on the trip lever or replacing the lift chain. Replace the flapper valve if it shows signs of wear or the rubber feels soft or it looks deteriorated.

Repair kits carried by most home centers and hardware stores should solve these and other flushing problems. The kits are inexpensive and come with complete installation instructions.

Light Tap Should Loosen Faucet Handle

Q: To change a washer on a bathtub faucet, I must first remove the handle. The screw comes out with no problem, but the handle is stuck tight to the valve. How can I remove it without breaking either the handle or damaging the valve stem?

A: Usually a light tap with a wooden hammer handle or firm wiggling by hand breaks loose the faucet handle where it has become stuck by dried soap and corrosion. If this doesn't work, try penetrating oil or even a cola drink. A few drops of cola is an old-timer's specific remedy for a number of household and automotive problems.

To submit a question, write to Popular Mechanics, Reader Service Bureau, 224 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019. The most interesting questions will be considered for future columns.

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