How to Change a Damaged Toilet Flapper

A toilet bowl

Have you ever noticed your toilet has unexpectedly turned on and started refilling, even though nobody has flushed it in quite some time? No this isn’t a serious problem or a sign that your home is haunted. What it actually means is that your toilet tank is leaking, and the most common source of a toilet tank leak is your flapper. As flappers age, they corrode, crack, and become brittle, leading to small leaks that allow water to trickle or drip through.

Your flapper’s job is to act as a drain plug, keeping the water in your tank ready to go until you flush. When you flush, the flapper lifts, allowing the water to drain out. The water then rushes into the bowl below, pushing the waste down the drain and leaving the bowl with fresh and clean water in it. When the flapper leaks this water slowly flows through the flapper, and the water level in the bowl sinks. When the water level sinks, the float dips, and when then float dips low enough, the fill valve opens, allowing your tank to refill. The worse off your flapper is, the more often this will happen, and the more water you’ll waste.

Changing a flapper is not a major service, however. In fact, it’s one we’re confident any homeowner can do themselves with nothing more than a few minutes of their time and a simple replacement part you can buy at home improvement or hardware stores. Not sure how? Here are some step by step instructions on how to change your toilet flapper.

How to Replace a Toilet Flapper

Step 1: Pull Out the Old Flapper

Removing your old flapper is easy. First, shut off the water to your toilet tank at your toilet’s connection to your main plumbing lines. Turn the handle on this valve clockwise until it stops. The next time you flush your toilet, the tank shouldn’t refill. Remove the lid from your tank to make sure this happens.

Once your tank is empty, you can remove the old flapper. Slide the hinges off the plastic nubs they’re hooked onto and the flapper should pull right out of your tank. Disconnect the chain from your toilet’s flush handle, and toss the old flapper in the trash.

Step 2: Install the New Flapper

Installation is nearly as easy as removal. Open your new flapper and check it to make sure it seats properly over your tank drain. Most flappers are universal, so this shouldn’t be an issue unless you’re on of the rare few who have a unique, proprietary toilet with a specialized flapper. However, we’d say the odds of this being the case are extremely low.

So long as the flapper seats properly and creates a total seal over your toilet drain, you’re good to go. Slide the hinge loops back on to the plastic hooks located on the base of your toilet’s overflow tube and the flapper should easily pull up when you tug on the chain. Check one more time to make sure that the flapper forms a complete seal when you place the flapper back down. As long as this works, take the chain on the top of your flapper and connect it to your toilet handle. You want a small amount of tension on the chain when the flapper is sitting fully closed, but not enough to actually lift the flapper out of place. Too much tension and flapper won’t close properly, too little and your flapper won’t open all the way when you flush, plus you’ll have a ton of loose play in your flush handle.

Step 3: Test the New Flapper and Make Adjustments If Needed

Once the new flapper is hooked up, give the handle a few test presses to make sure the flapper lifts properly. If it’s not lifting all the way or isn’t lifting at all, you may need to adjust the connection chain until it does. The small latch on the chain should make this extremely easy.

Once the flapper opens and closes properly, you’re free to turn the water back on and allow your tank to fill. Give it a minute or two to let it do this. Once the tank is filled and the valve has shut off, carefully listen for any sounds of dripping or leaking. While a few dripping sounds at the end of a flush cycle are normal, they shouldn’t last longer than just a few seconds. If you still hear the sound of leaking going down into your bowl, you may need to readjust your flapper again because it’s probably not sitting right.

If you’ve got a problem with your toilet you need fixed, call Carter Quality Plumbing at (803) 998-2270 today!