A flapper is an important component of your toilet as it helps to keep the water in the tank from draining out. When you flush the toilet, the flapper lifts up and allows water to flow from the tank into the bowl. Over time, toilet flappers can become brittle and cracked, which can cause leaks causing your toilet to run constantly or even overflow. In this blog, we will show you how to replace the toilet flapper so that your toilet can function properly again.
Major Types of Toilet Flappers
There are three major types of toilet flappers: tank ball, seat disk, and rubber.
Seat Disk Flappers
Seat disk flappers are the most common type of toilet flapper. They are made of a flexible disk that sits on top of the flush valve seat. When you flush the toilet, the disk lifts up and allows water to flow from the tank into the bowl. Seat disk flappers are generally very durable and can last for many years.
Tank Ball Flappers
Tank ball flappers are similar to seat disk flappers but with one key difference: they have a float attached to them. The float is connected to the tank ball via a rod. As the water level in the tank decreases, the float begins to rise. This causes the rod to lift the tank ball off of the seat, allowing water to flow into the bowl. Tank ball flappers are often used in toilets with low-water volume tanks.
Rubber flappers are made entirely of rubber and are attached to the flush valve seat with a metal or plastic ring. They create a seal around the toilet flapper valve when they are not in use, and they open up when you flush the toilet so that water can flow through. Rubber flappers often last for many years but may need to be replaced more frequently than seat disks or tank ball flappers.
What You Will Need To Replace Toilet Flapper?
Before you get started, you will need to gather the following materials:
– A new toilet flapper
– A screwdriver
– Adjustable pliers
– A flashlight (optional)
Step 1: Turn Off the Water Supply
The first thing you need to do is turn off the water supply to your toilet. Locate the shutoff valve on the wall behind your toilet and turn it clockwise to close it. Then, flush your toilet to empty the tank. Once the tank is empty, you can remove the old flapper.
Step 2: Remove the Old Flapper
If there is any water remaining in the tank, use a sponge or rag to remove it so that you can access the flapper more easily. Then, use a screwdriver to remove the screws that are holding the flapper in place. If your flapper is held in place with a ring, you can use adjustable pliers to remove it. Once the old flapper is removed, Inspect the seat and clean it if necessary. Make sure that there are no cracks or chips in the seat as this could cause leaks.
Step 3: Attach the New Flapper
To attach the new flapper, line up the holes in the flapper with those in the seat. Once aligned, insert the screws and tighten them by hand. DO NOT overtighten as this could damage the flapper or material around it such as porcelain which could lead to leaks. If your new flapper came with a ring, secure it in place by hand as well. Now would be a good time to check for leaks by turning on the water supply and testing the flush lever several times. Make any adjustments if necessary by loosening or tightening screws or rings until the desired effect is achieved and there are no leaks coming from around the new flapper where it has been installed.
How do I know if I need to Replace Toilet Flapper?
If your toilet is leaking or not flushing properly, it might be time to replace your flapper. But how can you tell if it’s the flapper or something else? Here are some tips:
1. Check for Leaks
A leaky flapper is one of the most common causes of a running toilet. To check for leaks, remove the lid from your toilet tank and see if there are any drips or drops coming from around the base of the flapper. If there are, then chances are you need toilet flapper replacement.
2. Check the Chain
Another common cause of a running toilet is a loose or broken chain. The chain should be securely attached to both the handle and the flapper, with just enough slack to allow the flapper to seal properly. If the chain is too long, it will keep the flapper from sealing properly and cause your toilet to leak; if it’s too short, it will prevent the flapper from opening fully and cause your toilet to run.
3. Check for Wear and Tear
Over time, even with proper care, rubber and plastic parts will degrade and wear out. If your toilet has been in use for many years, it’s possible that the materials in your flapper have simply reached the end of their lifespan and need to be replaced.
4. Check for Mineral Build-up
Hard water can leave mineral deposits on all sorts of surfaces in your bathroom, including your toilet bowl, tank, and valves. These deposits can slowly build up over time and prevent your valves from working properly—including your flush valve and fill valve (aka ballcock).
To check for mineral build-up, remove your tank lid and take a look inside—if you see any white scale on either valve (they’re usually located at opposite ends of your tank), then you might need to descale or replace those parts as well.
You can also check for mineral build-up by feeling around inside your tank—if everything feels smooth, then you’re probably in good shape; if there are any rough spots or small bumps, then there might be some mineral build-up that needs to be addressed.
How Can You Clean The Toilet Flapper?
It is important to keep your flapper clean because a dirty flapper can cause your toilet to leak. Also, a clean flapper will help prevent odors from coming from your toilet. Here are some tips on how you can clean your toilet flapper.
What You Will Need:
- Rubber gloves
- Toilet brush
- White vinegar
- Old toothbrush (optional)
Step One: Put on Your Gloves
This may seem like an obvious step, but it is important to protect your hands from any harmful bacteria that may be on the flapper. If you have sensitive skin, you may also want to wear long sleeves to protect your arms.
Step Two: Remove the Flapper
To remove the flapper, simply unscrew the retaining clip or lift up on the float ball arm. The flapper should come right off. If it does not, do not force it as you may damage the flush valve. Once the flapper is off, take a look inside the flush valve to see if there is any debris or buildup. If so, use a toilet brush or an old toothbrush to clean it out.
Step Three: Clean the Flapper
Fill up a bucket or sink with hot water and white vinegar. Soak the flapper in this solution for about 15 minutes to remove any dirt, grime, or bacteria. You can also use mild soap if you do not have vinegar on hand. After soaking, scrub the flapper with a toilet brush or old toothbrush to make sure it is clean. Rinse it off with hot water and set it aside to dry.
Once your flapper is clean and dry, reattach it to the chain and place it back onto the hole at the bottom of the tank. Make sure that the chain is not too tight or too loose—it should have some slack, but not so much that it prevents the flapper from sealing tightly. Test your repair by giving the handle a flush.
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Some Last Words
A leaking toilet flapper can not only waste water but also drive up your water bill each month needlessly. Thankfully, replacing a toilet flapper is a relatively easy do-it-yourself project that most homeowners can complete in an hour or less with just a few tools. In this article, we showed you how to replace a toilet flapper step-by-step so you can save money and keep your toilet working properly for years to come!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Are toilet flappers universal?
No, toilet flappers are not universal. There are different types and sizes, so you will need to know what type of toilet you have in order to select the right flapper. For example, if you use a Gerber toilet, then you may have to buy only the Gerber toilet flapper.
Q2. Can you replace just the flapper in the toilet?
Most of the time, yes! Replacing just the flapper is an easy repair that anyone can do. If your toilet is still slow after replacing the flapper, there may be another issue, such as a clogged air vent or drainage pipe. In that case, you may need to call a professional plumber for help.
Q3. How often should I replace my flapper?
Toilet flappers generally last for about 3-5 years before they need to be replaced. However, depending on how much your toilet is used, your flapper may need to be replaced sooner. Pay attention to how well your toilet is flushed and if there are any leaks from the tank so you can replace your flapper as needed.
Q4. What are some tips for replacing my flapper?
Here are some helpful tips for replacing your toilet flapper:
- Make sure you turn off the water supply to your toilet before starting any repairs.
- Use pliers or an adjustable wrench to loosen old nuts and bolts—do not use excessive force as you could damage the components.
- When attaching new parts, hand-tighten them before using any tools so you don’t over-tighten and damage them.
- Give yourself plenty of room to work by removing any rugs or mats from around the toilet area.