Informational Guide

How To Replace Toilet Flapper & Valve

Have you ever had your toilet keep flushing long after it should be done? Fix the constant annoying flush with these tips & tricks.

by Matt Moran

Have you ever had your toilet keep flushing long after it should be done? If so, then the problem is likely your flapper or flush valve. When this piece is broken, you get a constant annoying flush. So let’s talk about how to fix it.

If you open up your toilet tank and look at the bottom in the center, you should see a large rubber disc. That is the toilet flapper. The flapper is basically a valve that controls when water is released into the tank and keeps water in the tank until the next flush. When you press down on the exterior lever, it pulls a chain that opens the valve so water can flush through the bowl.

So, when the flapper is broken, water keeps rushing into the bowl from the tank, which explains the continuous flushing.

bathroom

Three Different Types of Toilet Flappers Explained

There are three major types of toilet tank flappers:

  • Tank ball flappers are basically a half-sphere with a rubber attachment on the top that hooks to the pull chain. The ball falls down and seals the hole. These flappers are usually made of rubber and generally are very durable and sturdy. It is easy for the ball to not cover the entire hole, though.
  • Seat disk flappers are a flat rubber circle that lies on the bottom of the tank and snaps above the valve. These types of flappers are very small and thin. As such, they are prone to tearing and thinning out. Seat disk flappers are generally very inexpensive, though.
  • Rubber flappers are the most common type and generally resemble an upside-down hat. The top of the valve is attached to the pull chain, and the bottom fits over the hole. Rubber flappers have a small hole on the bottom that fills with water to weigh it down and cover the hole.

When Is It Time to Replace a Toilet Flapper?

The most obvious sign that your flapper needs to be replaced is if you hear a continuous flushing sound after the flush cycle is complete. That means that the flapper is not fully sealing the hole so that water can fill up the tank. If you hear a continuous flushing sound, then open your tank and visually inspect the flapper. Sometimes, it just needs to be readjusted to fit back over the hole. If you can see any cracks or holes in the flapper, then you may need to buy a new one.


Replacing Your Old Toilet Flapper: Do-It-Yourself Guide

Here is a quick step-by-step guide on how to replace your toilet flapper on your own.

  1. 1
    First, carefully remove the tank lid. You need to remove the lid to reach the flapper at the bottom of the tank. Place the tank lid a safe distance away, so it doesn’t fall over while you are working.
  2. 2
    Next, turn off the water supply. If you look to the bottom left behind your toilet, you should see a pipe with a know. Turn the knob clockwise to shut off the water supply to the tank. You need to shut the water off to empty the tank of water.
  3. 3
    Then, empty the toilet tank. Flush the toilet once or twice to remove as much water as possible. Use a cup or a towel to remove and mop up any water left in the bottom of the tank.
  4. 4
    The next step is to remove the damaged flap. Most of the time, you can reach down, disconnect the flapper from the pull chain, and just take it out. Depending on your toilet design, you might need a tool to take the chain off the flapper.
  5. 5
    After you have taken the flapper off, thoroughly clean the area around the seal area. If there is gunk or any build-up, it will prevent the flapper from completely covering the hole and let water leak through.
  6. 6
    You can then start to install the new flapper. Normally, you have to connect the hinge of the new flapper to the sides of the overflow tube. Usually, you can just snap these on. Then, connect the pull chain to the top of the new flapper.
  7. 7
    Connect the flapper chain to the lever arm. Usually, the chain connects to a lever arm with a simple hook mechanism. You can change the chain tension to adjust how hard you need to push on the flush lever.
  8. 8
    Once the new flapper is installed, turn the water supply back on. Let the tank and bowl refill with water. At this point, give the toilet a few flushes to make sure that the new flapper valve is working correctly.
  9. 9
    Once everything is determined to be in working order, you can replace the toilet tank lid. Inspect the flush handle to make sure it is the right tension. If not, remove the toilet again and adjust the length of the chain.
white toilet

How to Maintain a Flapper in Good Working Condition

Toilet flappers are generally made of a heavy-duty rubber material that is resistant to tears, rips, and holes. That being said, a flapper valve can degrade over time. The best way to ensure that your valve flapper will last for a while is to ensure that the seal ring is regularly clean. Build upon the top of the ring can cause abrasions on the bottom and cause the rubber layers to thin. You should also take the time to regularly inspect your flapper valve.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can you just replace the flapper in a toilet?

Yes, you can replace the toilet flapper without replacing any other parts.

How do you stop a toilet flapper from leaking?

Sometimes you can just adjust the flapper to make sure it fits. Other times, you may need to replace a broken valve.

Why won’t the flapper in the toilet close?

The flapper may not be closing because the chain is too short, or the top of the seal ring might have build-up.

Are toilet flappers universal?

Not quite. Most toilets use a 3 inch valve and a small handful use a 2 inch valve.

How much does it cost to replace a toilet flapper?

It is normally very cheap to replace the flapper, somewhere in the neighborhood of $15-$30.

How do you replace a Fluidmaster toilet fill flapper?

Turn the water valve off and remove the water from the tank. Then, take off the top plastic cap from the fill valve and lift the old valve seal. Then, replace the old one with the new one and replace the valve cap.

How often do toilet flappers need to be replaced?

In general, toilet flappers need to be replaced every 3-5 years.


Conclusion

A broken toilet valve means a broken toilet. So make sure your valve is up and running. Fortunately, toilet valves are easy to replace, so you can do it on your own.

Matt is a freelance writer, English graduate, & keen traveler from the UK. As a specialist plumbing expert, he enjoys writing about everything there has to do with at-home plumbing products & related problems. When he isn’t writing, he’s usually drinking coffee or planning his next adventure. In his spare time, he also runs his own blog all about digital nomad life.

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