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What is a Lift Rod?

By Morgan H.
Updated May 16, 2024
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A lift rod is a piece of a plumbing fixture that allows a drain or a flapper to open or close. Lift rods are most commonly found as part of a toilet or a faucet. A broken or improperly installed lift rod may interfere with the function of the plumbing fixture, but problems are usually easy to identify and simple to repair.

A toilet lift rod is a vertical piece inside the toilet tank. It connects to the flush lever on the outside of the tank by a horizontal arm that raises and lowers the rod. When the lever is depressed, the lift rod raises the flapper or stop in the tank, allowing the water from the tank to move to the bowl. In some toilets, the rod may be replaced by a chain or wire that serves the same function.

When a toilet lift rod is broken or misaligned, the toilet may not flush at all. As the flush lever is depressed, there may not be any resistance, or there may be a scraping noise along the side of the tank. This problem is easily identified visually by removing the lid of the tank and examining the parts therein. If the rod is broken, replacements are usually available at hardware or plumbing supply stores. Should the rod be misaligned, it may be possible to move it back into place manually by pressing or bending the rod into alignment, then depressing the toilet tank lever to check the function of the toilet.

In sinks, a faucet lift rod is usually present behind the spout. It is an exposed piece that will usually have a knob or finial on the end that matches the style of the faucet. The rod connects to a bar, called the pivot rod, below the faucet that pulls the pop-up drain in the sink basin closed as the rod is lifted, or open as the rod is pressed down.

If the faucet lift rod is not connected properly, the pop-up drain in the sink may become stuck in place. Should this happen, it may be fixed by inspecting underneath the faucet. Most of the time, the rod may have just slipped out of place. On some faucets, the lift rod may be secured by a nut that may need to be repaired or replaced. Repair kits and replacement faucet lift rods are readily available in many hardware stores.

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Discussion Comments

By Perdido — On Oct 16, 2011

I was washing dishes one day when the lift rod on my sink stopped working. I was trying to drain the soapy water out of the sink, but I couldn’t get the drain to open.

The dishwater looked pretty disgusting. I had made brownies and washed the bowl in it, so the water was a rich brown with little chunks floating in it. I had company coming, so I draped a towel over the sink to hide the mess.

I called my husband, and he knew what was wrong without even looking at it. He picked up a new lift rod on the way home, and he had the drain working within a couple of minutes.

By orangey03 — On Oct 15, 2011

When I lived with my parents, the lift rod on one of our toilets broke. I believe it had lasted for over twenty-five years, which is pretty amazing. My dad had to special order a new lift rod, because this kind was hard to find.

The broken toilet was in the bathroom that I went to in the middle of the night. It was hard to remember not to use it when I woke up all groggy. I ended up shutting the lid and taping a piece of paper across it, on which I wrote “out of order.”

It’s crazy how much a little thing like a lift rod can inconvenience you when it stops working. I was so glad when that part finally arrived.

By Oceana — On Oct 15, 2011

I think a lot of older toilets have issues with their lift rods. I have known of several flush levers that became quirky when the attachment to their lift rods got off by just a little bit.

I used to work in an old building with a toilet that had not been replaced in decades. If I didn’t hold down the flush lever until all the water had disappeared from the bowl, then the lift rod would get stuck, and the toilet would make gurgling noises until someone came in and jiggled the lever.

Often, people would forget about this quirk, and the toilet would make noise for a long time. Since my cubicle was within earshot, I would always be the one to go in there and jiggle the lever. The noise got on my nerves after awhile, and I seemed to be the only one near enough to hear it and fix it.

By StarJo — On Oct 14, 2011

@SarahSon - I had the same issue with the toilet lift rod. I could not figure out why on earth the flush lever was not making the toilet flush. It was way too easy to push downward, as though nothing were holding it up.

My dad was there at the time, so he lifted the tank lid and showed me the problem. He pulled the rod up with his finger, and it snapped back into place. Suddenly, the flush lever was working again.

It seemed like something that should have been so easy to figure out. However, I’m just not mechanically minded. I’m glad my dad was there, or I would have had to pay a plumber for something really simple!

By SarahSon — On Oct 14, 2011

I usually rely on my husband to take care of things around the house that need to be fixed or repaired.

Sometimes he isn't always around and I have to figure out how to do it myself. This was the case with one of our toilets and a broken lift rod.

Once I took the tank lid off, it was easy to see what the problem was. The employees at the local hardware store were also very helpful, and I was able to get it fixed and running again in a short time.

Before this I would not have even known what a lift rod was without having someone explain it to me.

I am just glad that was an easy fix and there were other toilets to use in the mean time. A lift rod is one of those things that you don't give any thought to - until it stops working properly.

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