How to fix a broken toilet flush

A broken toilet is less than ideal in any household, especially during lockdown when we are spending more time at home than ever. There are many reasons why your toilet is not flushing, but two of the most common problems are a broken cistern inlet valve or a broken flush handle. has put together this guide on how to replace a cistern inlet valve and how to fix a broken flush handle so you don’t get caught short.

Firstly, you need to identify what type of toilet you have.

In a traditional toilet, the flushing mechanism is visible in the cistern.

It is attached to a metal link that’s connected by a trip lever to the flush handle.

In a syphon toilet, there is a diaphragm located inside the syphon.

To check if this is the problem you’ll need to inspect it; on some models you can simply remove the locator pin and pull up the top section of the siphon.


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Fixing a flushing mechanism

You will need:

  • A flat head screwdriver
  • A sponge and bucket
  • A replacement flushing mechanism or diaphragm

Take the lid off the toilet cistern and turn off the isolation valve to shut off the water.

The isolation valve is located on the water pipe that leads into the cistern.

Use a flat head screwdriver to turn the screw a quarter turn clockwise.

Drain the water tank. To do this, siphon any water from the tank and then mop up any remaining water using a sponge and bucket.

Disconnect the link from the trip lever (the rod that connects to the flush handle).

The mechanism will be attached via a large plastic nut under the base of the cistern, this will need to be removed to remove the flushing mechanism.

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Take the flushing mechanism to a DIY store and buy yourself a new one, making sure it is the same size as the one that was previously in the toilet.

Put your new flushing mechanism in place, and hook the end of the chain to a trip lever.

Check that the tension feels just right by working the handle or button a few times – not too slack and not too tight.

Turn the isolation valve back on and replace the cistern lid.

Broken flush handle

A faulty or broken flush handle is probably the easiest toilet problem to diagnose, simply because the handle becomes either too loose or too tight, which stops it from connecting with the link and flushing mechanism.

Sometimes, it can be fixed by simply tightening the mounting nut at the back of the handle.

The handle may also have become stiff due to a build-up of limescale, in which case it will need a good soak in limescale remover and wiped down.

If it is broken, take the handle to a DIY store to get a new one – be sure to take your old flush handle with you to the DIY store when purchasing a replacement so you can be confident you are buying the right size.

But if the handle is completely broken it will need to be replaced. Here’s how:

You will need:

  • An adjustable wrench
  • A replacement flush handle


Take the lid off the toilet cistern and unhook and remove the trip lever. This is the bit that connects the handle to the other parts inside the cistern.

Unscrew the nut that holds the handle in place. It can be tricky as it’s reverse threaded, meaning you need to turn it clockwise to undo it.

Slot the new handle into position, then slide on the nut and screw it on firmly.

Tighten it with an adjustable wrench but be careful not to overtighten, which can crack the handle.

Slide the trip lever onto the end of the handle and re-hook it. It may take a few tries getting the handle into the right position, so flush the toilet to check it works and adjust the position if you need to.

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