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DIY Tip: How to Replace a Worn-Out Toilet Flapper

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Do you have a toilet which constantly makes a trickling or dripping sound for hours on end? Does it turn on and run randomly even though nobody has used it for hours? This is a sign of perhaps one of the most common toilet problems you can encounter: a worn-out flapper.

Your flapper is a piece of rubber which acts as a drain plug that prevents water from draining from your tank down into the bowl. When you flush your toilet, the handle lifts this plug, allowing the water to pour down into the bowl, flushing away the waste and cycling in new, fresh water. The flapper then resets back in place, plugging the drain, and allowing the tank to refill for the next flush.

Flappers will eventually develop leaks over time because they are usually manufactured from a material like rubber or malleable plastic. These materials work best because they are slightly flexible, impervious to water, and can form a complete seal over your tank drain. But the soft nature of these materials mean water and time eventually cause them to corrode, resulting in cracks, leaks, and running toilets.

Fortunately, replacing a flapper is extremely simple. Just about anyone can do it, even if you have no tools or previous plumbing experience. And all it will cost is just a few dollars at your local home improvement warehouse. Here are some step by step instructions on how to do it.

What You Need

Before you begin, you’ll need to make a trip to your local home improvement warehouse or hardware store to pick up a replacement flapper. These are usually no more than just a few dollars, and are usually available on the same aisle where you’d find the toilets themselves. If you’re having any trouble, just ask an associate working there and they should be able to guide you in the right direction.

The overwhelming majority of the time, flappers are universal, meaning one type of flapper will fit almost any toilet. Unless you have a unique, proprietary commode which uses something different, odds are strongly in favor of just about any replacement flapper being the right thing for your needs.

Step 1: Remove the Old Flapper

To start, you’ll want to shut off the water to your toilet and drain the tank. Find your toilet’s water connection, usually located on the wall immediately behind the commode, and twist it clockwise to shut off the water. Once the handle stops turning, the water should be shut off. Flush your toilet and the water in the tank should drain out but it shouldn’t refill.

Once the water is off and the tank is empty, remove the lid from your tank. Down at the bottom of your tank in the middle should be your toilet flapper—a small piece of rubber that lifts up and down when you press the toilet flush handle. Removing it is simple—just slide the small hinges off the plastic flanges which attach it to the overflow tube (they’re flexible and should bend without much effort). Once this is done, find the clasp which connects the flapper to your toilet’s handle (usually on the last link of the chain which connects the handle to the flapper) and remove it. Take the old flapper and toss it in the trash (or recycling, if it’s a recyclable material).

Step 2: Install the New Flapper

Now all you have to do is reverse the steps with the new flapper. Place the new one in the tank and make sure it seats nicely with the drain at the bottom of the tank. If it does, loop both of the hinges back onto the overflow pipe flanges in your tank. The flapper should still seal your drain completely. Lift up on the chain a couple of times to make sure it still seals properly when set back in place. As long as it does, then connect the new chain on your flapper to your handle using the clasp. Make sure the flapper sits perfectly in place over the drain when the handle isn’t pressed, but lifts as far as possible when you do press it.

Once this is all in place, turn the water back on and let your toilet tank fill up. Once the fill cycle stops, listen close for the sounds of dripping water. If you don’t hear any water dripping or leaking sounds after a minute or so, then you’re done! Your toilet flapper is replaced and your toilet should work properly. Give it a test flush to make sure it functions properly. If your handle suddenly stops lifting the flapper at any point, check the connection between your handle and the flapper—it may have come loose if you didn’t latch the clasp properly.

If your toilet needs serviced, pick up the phone and call the experts at Moe Plumbing at (818) 396-8002 to schedule an appointment now!

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