How to Install a Toilet Flapper

When water in your toilet seems to trickle through the bowl even long after you have flushed it, the problem is most likely that you have a worn-out rubber flapper, which is located at the bottom of the tank. This component works by lifting when you flush the toilet, letting the water flow into the bowl. As the tank is emptied, the flapper will sink to block the opening, allowing the tank to refill. Since this part is made of rubber it can harden and then break down over time, though it is designed to be durable.

When this happens, it will no longer provide a perfect seal that is tight enough to stop the flow of water as it should. As a result, there will emerge an audible trickle that is punctuated by occasional surges of water topping off the tank. While you can first jiggle the handle to try to stop the trickle, this trick is just a temporary solution that will eventually stop working. A worn-out flapper can drive up water costs, and if the supply line also transports warm water to prevent condensation, your heating bill will also go up.

Fortunately for you, a flapper is just an inexpensive component of your toilet that you can easily replace. If you have narrowed down you running toilet problem to this component, you can quickly fix it. With the necessary tools—pair of pliers and screwdriver—at hand, just follow these steps:

1. Cut The Water Supply To The Tank.

Changing your old flapper for a new one is just a quick job that starts by cutting the water supply to the tank, which is usually located below the tank or behind the bowl. Flush the toilet after turning off the water supply to drain the tank. If you notice that the supply valve is weak or corroded, it is recommended to turn the water supply off at the main source. You can dry out the remaining water by using a sponge if you want, though this is not really necessary.

2. Note The Length Of The Chain.

After flushing the water in the tank, note the length of the chain that connects the flapper to the flush handle. This will save you time when you are about to install the new flapper.

3. Remove The Old Flapper.

To remove the old toilet flapper, unhinge first the chain connecting it to the toilet handle rod. Then, pull out the rear or each side of the flapper to unhook it from the flush valve. If such a component is connected by a circular ring around the tube, you can remove the refill tube from the overflow pipe. After removing the chain, you can now remove the old flapper by sliding it up and off of the overflow pipe. Another way to do this is unhooking the flapper ears from the overflow pipe. If your toilet has plastic flush valves, you might need to bend the flapper ears out and off the pins that are attached to the flush valve.

4. Get The Essential Information Needed For Buying The New Flapper.

After removing the old flapper, take note of the toilet model number and the toilet manufacturer. You can usually find the model number on the inside at the back of the tank and the name of the manufacturer stamped outside of the bowl near the seat hinges. Take the information you have noted and your old flapper to the hardware, home improvement or plumbing supply store near you to obtain the right replacement flapper for your toilet tank. Most likely, the store should have information on the right replacement flapper and settings for an adjustable one. Before you leave, do not forget to get a beaded metal chain replacement for the flapper.

5. Prepare The New Flapper.

For the most common toilet configuration, it has the flapper attached by the ears located on the sides of the flush valve. If this is how your toilet unit is made, then you should cut off the ring on the back of the flapper. If you are having a fill valve that does not have side hooks for the flapper, you need to use the ring to slide such a component into place.

6. Install The New Flapper.

To install the new flapper, slide it down and over the overflow pipe until the ring touches the tank’s bottom, with the flapper bulb centered on the valve opening. Put the new component into place, hooking each of its ears onto the flush valve. Then, the chain onto the toilet handle rod and make adjustments if necessary. Take note that the chain needs to be long enough to allow the flapper to sit firmly in place, but not exceedingly long that it would get caught under the flapper when the water rushes out.

7. Perform The Final Steps.

Turn the water back on and do the necessary tests, which include flushing a couple of times or more.

More Useful Tips and Warnings

If you are not sure if the replacement flapper was a correct one to begin with, you can seek professional advice or check out your toilet’s manual or the manufacturer’s website to ensure you will be getting the right one. Usually, you can find toilet flapper replacement kits in any hardware store, coming with complete and easy-to-follow instructions.

While you see that the water inside the tank looks grungy, it is clean water, so there is no reason to be afraid of putting your hands inside. You should also take note of the common installation mistakes and how to avoid them, including the failure to remove unnecessary parts from universal replacement flappers and the improper adjustments of the flush chain. Moreover, be careful not to crack the ceramic lid of the tank when addressing a flapper problem.

A toilet that is constantly running or not flush well can be annoying, not to mention that it can waste water. The good news is, a flapper problem is just easy to fix, given the right steps.

Skip to content