{diy with style} Getting Playful with a New Toilet Lever

Who's a fan of Shark Week?!  My husband definitely is, and I have a sneaking suspicion that in a couple of years our sons will be as well.  We were watching sharks around the clock in our house a couple of weeks ago, and since this year's Shark Week coincided closely with my husband's birthday, I decided to make his birthday shark themed.

I started seeing a lot of sharkey decor popping up all over the internet, but I couldn't see myself hanging shark artwork in our living room, or entertaining guests on shark appetizer plates.  But then a shiny shark toilet flush lever caught my eye - fun and whimsical, but not too over the top.  I knew it would be perfect for our boys' bathroom.  What a fun way for my husband to share his love of sharks with his sons!

Replace a toilet tank lever with a shark lever

Normally I would stay miles away from any project that even remotely involves plumbing, but after reading the installation instructions for the new toilet lever it seemed simple enough. I decided to tackle the project while Scott was at work on his birthday so that I could surprise him with it.

Here's my step-by-step photo tutorial for swapping out a toilet lever:

Prepare for the Installation:  You'll be lifting up on the toilet flapper during the installation, so turn off the water to the toilet before beginning to avoid wasting water.  Then remove the toilet tank lid.  With the lid removed, you'll see something similar to this:

How to replace a toilet tank lever

Disconnect the Chain:  On the inside of the toilet tank, the flush lever has a long arm that is connected to the chain that lifts the flapper/toilet valve.  Or in the case of my toilet, there is a rubber strap in place of a traditional chain. In either event, the process is the same.  Disconnect the chain or strap from the lever arm.

Remove the Old Lever:  Remove the nut inside the tank that holds the lever in place. Note that most of these nuts have left-handed threads, meaning they'll turn in the opposite direction that you'd expect.  Don't apply too much pressure until you are sure which direction will loosen the nut or you run the risk of cracking the porcelain tank.  Once the nut is loose, remove it by hand and slide the lever arm through the hole to fully remove the old flush lever.

Insert the New Lever:  Remove the nut from the new lever and place the lever arm through the hole.  Slide the nut back over the arm and tighten it down by hand, remembering again that it's likely a left-handed thread.  Finish tightening with a wrench or pliers, being careful not to tighten too much so as to not crack the porcelain tank.

Reconnect the Chain:  Reconnect the chain or rubber strap.  If you have a chain, make sure to connect the chain using the same hole as on the old arm, or if you have a strap, make sure to pull the strap through to the same spot.  You need the flapper mechanism to be able to fully open and close.  If the chain or strap is too loose, the tank won't fully drain, and if it's too tight, the flapper may not seal fully, causing the toilet to run continuously.

Test the New Lever:  Turn the water supply to the toilet back on, wait for the tank to refill, and, with the tank lid still removed, flush the toilet and observe whether the flapper is able to fully open and close.  If not, adjust the length of the chain/strap and test flush again.  Once you have determined that the chain/strap is adjusted properly you can replace the tank lid and admire your new toilet lever.

Replace toilet tank lever with shark lever

The original white lever never bothered me before, but now that I see our shiny new shark lever I realize how much more personality our toilet can have.  It's like jewelry for the loo! Wow, there's a statement I never thought I'd make... ;)

Replace toilet lever with shark lever

Now, I don't suspect that everyone wants a shark toilet lever, but there are plenty of other options out there - ranging from playful to traditional to modern.  And now that I realize it's such a simple project, I think the other toilets in our house may be getting some dressing with something more like this one made by Danze:

But for a bathroom that will be shared by two little boys, I think the shark is just right.  And it's also fittingly placed right below all the photos for my semester spent studying abroad in Australia where I got to snorkel and scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef (with Reef Sharks).

We also got Scott some other birthday gifts that were just for him, but the most fun of his presents was surely the shark toilet lever to allow him share his love of sharks with his boys.  Since it wasn't a gift that we could wrap, I wrote a little poem in his birthday card to lead him in the right direction and put a big bow on the front of the toilet tank.
Daddy is the best,
Coolest guy we've ever met
Our present to you,
We think it's safe to bet, 
You will never guess,
Take a look at our toilet

And then we rounded out his shark themed birthday celebration with a special Shark Week ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery!

While most people have to wait 50 more weeks before Shark Week 2014, it's now Shark Week year round in our boys' bathroom!  I just hope our sons don't end up having nightmares about sharks in their toilet or I'll be re-installing that boring white toilet lever! :)

Was anyone else inspired by Shark Week to incorporate some sharkey decor into your home?  Or anyone swapping out their toilet levers for something shiny and pretty?

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