How to Repair a Toilet with Lift Wire Problems

The most common signs that you have a defective lift wire in your toilet are that the tank will not fill and the water keeps running.

A defective lift wire can cause your electric bill to increase. For homes with a well water supply, letting the water run could seriously decrease the water level in the well and even dry it out. A quietly-running toilet can waste up to 75 gallons a day, and if you can hear the water running, that could translate to up to 300 gallons a day and up to 80,000 gallons a year. For all of these reasons, you must repair or replace the lift wire right away when you start experiencing problems. Luckily, repairing a toilet with lift wire problems is easy. After completing each of the steps, turn the water on and check for proper operation before moving on to the next step.

Remove the cover from the toilet tank. Try to flush the toilet and observe all the moving parts. If the flapper stays open and does not sit properly on the valve located at the bottom of the tank, turn the water off.

Locate the lift wire and clear any kinks or bends in the wire. Sometimes the lift wire gets kinks in it, which cause the wire to shorten and prevent the flapper from lowering properly, shutting off the water flow to the tank.

Check for corrosion on the lift wire. If any is present, disconnect the retaining clips on both ends of the lift wire using the needle nose pliers. Use steel wool to clean the rust off the wire and clean the clips. The corrosion can weaken a lift wire, causing it to bind in a bent shape and shorten the travel of the flapper.

Check the guide arm and make sure that the inside part of the guide, where the lift wire is located, is clean and does not cause friction or block the lift wire from moving freely. Check that the retaining clips on each end of the lift wire are not corroded and move freely.

Check that the lift wire is not wrapped around the flush valve float. This can also cause the wire to become too short and stop the flapper from resting on the valve properly.

Replace the lift wire and connectors with new parts if they're too corroded. Be sure to take the old part with you to the store so you can get the exact part you will need for your toilet.

Things You Will Need

  • Steel wool
  • Needle nose pliers
  • New lift wire


  • Take a look inside the toilet tank and perform a visual inspection while flushing the toilet. Look for loose connections, corrosion and that all parts move freely as intended. Check that the tank mounting bolts are not corroded and that the gaskets are in good shape.


  • When you work on parts inside of the tank, try not to disturb the float ball arm. If the float ball arm gets bent upwards, it could prevent the water from shutting off at the proper level, overflowing the toilet.