The toilet flapper? The stopper? The whatchamacallit? Whatever name you use for that contraption that makes the tank refill with water after you flush the toilet, you need to become familiar with it. Why? Because it will need to be replaced every two to five years. And a home goddess doesn’t need to waste the $50-$100 by calling a plumber (I have friends who do) when you can do it yourself. Yes, even a diy home goddess can do this, easy peasy.
Why do you need to change the toilet flapper? There are two reasons to change a toilet flapper (the handyman official name for it):
- If you have a chain, the chain broke. It’s metal, it can happen. You can’t flush the toilet at all.
- The rubber no longer seals the hole where the water escapes. The water never stops running, because the water keeps leaving the tank; it never gets full.
My Story – “Tanks A Lot!”
When was my first time? I had used the toilet before I headed to work one morning. The toilet would not flush. I opened the tank, and saw the chain was broken and spread around the base. I lifted the metal bar for a manual flush and rushed off to work.
On my lunch hour, I poured the internet for what to do. I didn’t know what brand toilet I had, so I researched for generic replacements. Fluidmaster got the best reviews. A good seal. Easy replacement. A good fit. A good price. People said they were plumbers and had been using that brand for decades.
After work I headed to my local Hope Depot and grabbed one. If I had been smart, I would have grabbed two. Always keep an extra on hand. But at least I didn’t stand in the aisle looking at them for 30 minutes trying to decide; I had already done my homework. Research, my dear home goddesses!
I got home and got ready to get my hands dirty. I took a good look at the mess, laughing and cursing at the same time. My ex-husband had used a bread tie and a plastic coated paper clip to hold the already broken chain together! Who knows how log that had been jerry-rigged!
I replaced the flapper, moving the hook on different chain lines to get the right tension for a correct result. It flushed! I was amazed; I had done it with no help. I had done a plumbing repair by myself, not giving a professional my hard earned money.
As a side note, I went down to my work area later that evening, and there was spare on in the parts basket! WTF! We had one and my ex had jerry-rigged it? What a lazy bozo!
What Do I Need?
- A new flapper
- Paper towels or old rags
- A screw driver (for stubborn pieces)
- A level head filled with a little knowledge and a LOT of patience (I tend to curse at the bloody things when they don’t cooperate).
How Do I Find The Right Toilet Flapper?
This sounds odd, but the first place to look is inside the toilet tank. There may be something written inside. You can find the bank, the model and the type of flappers and sizes that are compatible.
Use our good friend Google to find the manufacturer’s website.
Here are the most common toilet brands:
Here are the most common toilet flapper brands:
- Your toilet manufacturer
- Fluidmaster – this site also gives good information on figuring out what is wrong with the darn thing.
Steps for Replacing a Toilet Flapper
- Get the right flapper for your toilet at a home improvement store. Under 10 bucks!
- Turn off the water by turning the knob by the pipe that is below the toilet.
- Flush the remaining water out of the tank
- Remove the lid of the toilet tank.
- Use rags or paper towels to sop any excess water from the tank.
- Remove the old toilet flapper. You may be able to just pull it up and off, or you may have to twist it off of the plastic arm (this looks like a U). Don’t break the plastic arm, or you will have to call a plumber!
- Put the new toilet flapper on, following the instructions on the package.
- Attach the clip to the metal arm in the furthers hole form the end.
- Adjust the chain length to have about 1/2 inch of slack.
- Turn the water back on.
- Flush toilet. if your flapper has adjusting numbers, start at the highest number and flush. Move down one number and flush again. Repeat until the toilet does not flush properly, and move it back up one number.
- Replace lid.
- You are done!
And now you can do a simple plumbing repair on the cheap!