How To Stop Holding The Toilet Handle Down So It Flushes Completely

Manderley Gate
by Manderley Gate
1 Material
A simple and inexpensive adjustment to your toilet so you don't have to hold the handle down for a complete flush.

Traditional flapper style flush valve

This helpful tip is for toilets which use the traditional flapper style flush valve. I'm assuming that your toilet is operating properly and that you just need a little more time for a complete flush. Refer to our article "I Hate My Low Flow Toilet" if not sure. Now there are 2 sizes of flapper flush valves, first check to see which size your toilet is using (this is the soft rubber flap the is connected to the handles chain). It will be either a 2 inch or a 3 inch size flapper. First turn the water supply to your toilet off. Then completely flush the toilet so as much water will exit the water tank.

3 inch universal "adjustable" flapper

Once you've verified the size of the flush valves flapper you will need to visit your local hardware or home improvement store and pick up one of these in either 2 inch or 3 inch size. There are several manufacturers, I happen to like Korky. It might be helpful to take a photo of your old flush valves flapper or take it with you to compare it to the new one in the store.

Old flapper in the open (flush) position

Here you see the old flapper unit we are going to replace with the new adjustable unit. You see two openings, one at the bottom of the flapper and the other is located at the top when the flapper is in the opened (flushed) position. In the closed position (not being flushed) air fills this area of the flapper. When you open (flush) the toilet the flapper raises up to let the air that is inside the flapper escape through the upper opening allowing water to enter causing the flapper to close. Once the flapper is closed the water drains out of the unit into the toilets bowl area. Starting the process all over again.

Rubber flapper removed

Follow the manufacturers instructions on how to remove the old flapper. Usually it just involves peeling the rubber hinge area off the flush valve. Be care not to crack or break the ears off the hard plastic flush valve. Here I removed the old rubber flapper and I am now ready to install the new adjustable flapper unit. NOTE: YOU DO NOT NEED TO REMOVE THE ENTIRE FLUSH VALVE (LIKE IN THE PHOTO) TO REPLACE JUST THE RUBBER FLAPPER!

New adjustable flapper unit installed

The new adjustable flapper unit is installed and is ready to be adjusted. As you can see this unit has 3 top openings and one bottom drain opening. The white/clear ring turns, allowing you to close off as many of the openings as you wish.

Flapper adjustment ring

See how much adjustment you have! The smaller the upper opening the longer it will take for the air to escape keeping the flapper open longer. This allows more water to enter into the bowl for a more complete flush. Turn the water supply back on and begin testing. It may take several flushes and adjustments to get this exactly where you want it. icon

Suggested materials:
  • 1 adjustable 2 inch or 3 inch toilet flush valve flapper unit   (Local hardware or home improvement store)
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 5 comments
  • Jay Jay on Mar 18, 2017

    I do not believe you need to replace any parts. Move the chain to the next hole to the right and adjust so there is just a little bit of slack in the chain. If that does not take care of the problem, move the chain to the last hole to the right and readjust the chain. NOTE: THEIR MUST BE SLACK IN THE CHAIN, OR THE WATER WILL LEAK OUT OF THE TANK. Please let me know if this took care of the problem.

    • Manderley Gate Manderley Gate on Mar 18, 2017
      Excellent point Jay. No matter what flapper you use the chain length between the flush handle and the flapper is critical . Too short and the flapper will not seal properly causing the toilet to "run". Too long the flapper will not open wide enough to allow enough water to flush. Most toilets will have this preset from the factory so be sure to make a mental note or better yet take a photo so you can set the new flappers chain at the same length and in the same flush handle rod opening as the previous flapper. Thanks Jay.
      comment photo
  • James Rabbitt James Rabbitt on Sep 02, 2022

    If you're good with the length of your chain and the handle is properly placed and securely tightened in position, check the bottom of your flapper. I found that mine had a hole adjustment which after setting to a larger size hole worked like a charm.

    Hope that helps and you're "good to GO"