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I have two Mansfield toilets in our house, both of which use the #40 flush lever. Over the 12 years that I've lived in this house, I'd estimate I've had to replace each one at least four times -- it seems like every 18 months or so one of them breaks. The break point is always the same: just below where the plastic arm meets the locknut (marked with a red arrow in the image below).

enter image description here

Today it happened again, so I am going to have to buy yet another one of these cheap plastic things.

  1. Is this normal?
  2. If it's not normal, is there some underlying reason why this keeps happening?
  3. Is there an all-metal version of this that I won't need to keep replacing? I've been unable to locate anything, but I thought the folks here might know better than me...

Edited to add: Several people have asked whether the flush lever, before breaking, seemed to require an unusually large amount of force, as this might indicate that the flush valve seal needs replacing, and would lead to us placing too much force on the lever. The answer is No. We have not noticed any stickiness or resistance when using the levers. Each time the lever broke, the pattern was the same: it was turning very easily and working just fine, and then suddenly it was broken. Sorry if that ruins the most likely theory.

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    Cheap low-quality plastic used at a high-stress point. They are probably making a fortune off of people having to routinely replace them. – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket 2 days ago
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    @J... see my edit to the question. – mweiss 2 days ago
  • Is the rod hitting the lid when you flush it? – Hannover Fist 2 days ago
  • @HannoverFist Nope. – mweiss 2 days ago
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I've replaced the same part several times. Is it "normal": yes in a world where cheap manufacturing results in increased profits, not consequences.

You could try buying a new one, drill an oversize hole through the body of the plastic, inject epoxy into the hole, then insert a metal rod.

Note the metal ones rust and get grungy, they are available. Ensure you're getting genuine parts, before blaming the company, perhaps you're dealing with big box store knockoffs.

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  • You may be able to mend the broken one the same way. Hold the broken parts together with tape and drill a small pilot hole through both.Enlarge appropriately on both pieces, fill with epoxy, insert a metal rod and tape back together until it sets. An appropriate sized screw with the head Dremmel'ed off might be a good "metal rod". – nigel222 yesterday
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  1. No, it's not normal (in general) - if you don't have somone who wails on the flush lever unusually hard, that leads to:
  2. Poor design, or planned obsolescence - a weak spot / stress concenration at that point, in a material that's weak to begin with.
  3. I would look at "generic" toilet tank parts and see if there might be a metal, or differently designed plastic lever that would work.

2a: you could try (without much expectation of success, but you don't know if you don't try) contacting the manufacturer about the recurring problem at exactly the same point.

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  • Yeah, these things are fairly universal. I'd get a different brand. – isherwood Jun 9 at 19:27
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    A Mansfield 40 is not fairly universal. ASAIK so-called "universal" levers do not work with this kind of toilet. – mweiss Jun 9 at 19:46
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    Re: 3... my 3rd question is literally "is there a metal version of this that would work", the response "see if you can find a metal version of this that would work" is not really answering the question. – mweiss Jun 9 at 19:54
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    @mweiss Even if the cost of the levers is small, if the cost of your time is high then replacing the whole toilet with something that doesn't suck may be more efficient. – user3067860 2 days ago
  • @mweiss - get a straight metal one and bend it at a 90 so it gives you your 2-1/2", and then also a slight offset. Bend it before you put it in. Do not use the tank as a vise. It will eventually wear out all three holes; start with the furthest one or it will snap in half before you get to use all three. – Mazura 2 days ago
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  1. Is this normal?

ANS: No, I have several toilets in my house for over 30 years, and none of the levers have ever broken.

  1. If it's not normal, is there some underlying reason why this keeps happening?

ANS: See my reasons below.

  1. Is there an all-metal version of this that I won't need to keep replacing? I've been unable to locate anything, but I thought the folks here might know better than me...

ANS: I have never seen an all metal one.

This would be opinion of why the lever is breaking so often:

  1. The position of the lever on the toilet and/or the chain that connect the lever to the flapper is not correctly installed.

The end of the lever where the chain is attached should be horizonal or slightly down from the horizonal position. If the lever is tilted up, there will not be enough space for the lever to move up and pull the chain. Pressing the lever against the top will create stress at the point where you are experiencing breakage.

The chain length should be adjusted where there is only a slight slack in the chain when connected to the flapper and lever. Pressing the lever handle should immediately start the process of the flapper breaking the seal and opening the flapper.

If too much slack in the chain, this will also require you to press hard on the handle (and against the top cover) for the flapper to open.

When the lever and chain is properly adjusted, you should be able to open the flapper before the lever touches the tank top

  1. How you flush the toilet If the chain is properly adjusted, you just need to push lightly on the lever for the flapper to pop up and slowly return to the “close” position as the water drains from the tank. On some toilet, a light push down and release will do a quick flush, and a press down and hold for a second will do a full flush. When flushing (pressing the lever), do not press hard on the lever. Pressing hard on the lever is creating the stress that is weaking the lever at your point of breakage by pressing the lever against the tank top or pulling on the flapper that has reached its maximum opening position.

Based on comments on Mansfield toilet not having the flapper. My answer on how to properly flush is still valid. You do not need to press hard for a long duration to activate the flushing. Just a light press on the handle will suffice. Pressing hard is putting stress at the elbow.

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    A Mansfield 40 lever does not attach to a chain. I think part of the problem here is that this is a specific type of lever, not the kind most people are familiar with, so the solutions people are offering may not be relevant. – mweiss Jun 9 at 19:45
  • See my edit to the question. We have not noticed any need to press hard on the handle prior to it breaking. – mweiss 2 days ago
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I have seen all metal version of similar/compatible ones. But I've broken those too!

I have found that in the times mine has broken that it was often that the flush valve was old, covered in rust/minerals, and sticking. Replacing the flush valve with a newer one which required much less force to flush not only prevented the lever from breaking, but made it easier to flush.

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    See my edit to the question. We have not noticed any stickiness or resistance, and did not need to use excessive force when flushing. – mweiss 2 days ago
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Reinforce it with a bit of epoxy.

Before you install it, add some epoxy all around the point where it typically breaks. Basically surround it with a pyramid shape. Scratch the parts, especially the "disk" beforehand to ensure a good grip.

That'll act as a poor man's "stress relief" and spread the torque over a larger area.

It's not a perfect solution and may not work, but in the comments you're asking for specific suggestions, and this is actionable.

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  • (I'm assuming everything is installed correctly and it's just a poorly designed part.) – Zach Mierzejewski 2 days ago

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