DIY Tip: How to Replace a Leaking Toilet Flapper

For most homeowners, there is a sense of pride that comes from fixing something and getting your home working again. When that repair also helps you save money on your water bill, that sense of pride also includes a sense of relief. That’s exactly what plumbing repairs can do, and some of them are remarkably easy if you know how. A leaking flapper is one of these simple repairs that almost anybody can do. The job takes no added tools, no special skills, and the proper replacement part is generally available for only a few dollars at virtually every hardware store or home improvement warehouse.

If you are sick of that trickling or constantly running toilet, then here is the three-step process for how to fix it by replacing your old, cracked toilet stopper.

Step 1: Drain the Toilet Tank

In order to change out the flapper, you’ll need to drain the tank. The tank is automatically filled by the flush valve inside the tank, which opens when the water in the tank recedes to a certain point. In order to properly drain the tank, you’ll need to shut off the fill valve so the water supply is stopped. Shutting this off is fairly simple: look behind your toilet for a small hose that’s connected to a valve along your wall. This valve is what supplies your toilet with the water it needs, and it can easily be closed through a knob on top. Simply turn this knob clockwise to close the valve and then flush your toilet. If the valve has been shut off properly, the toilet’s tank will not refill. You’re ready to remove the old stopper.

Step 2: Remove the Old Stopper

Toilet stoppers are attached at three points: two pivot points that are attached to the overflow tube, and one at a string or chain that connects the stopper to the flush handle. First, disconnect the stopper from the handle at the small hook located somewhere along the chain. This hook may have rusted slightly over time, so you should use caution when handling this. However, by simply applying a small amount of pressure to the clasp, you should be able to separate the chain from the handle rather easily.

Then slide the flapper off of the two hooks holding it to the overflow valve. The flapper or stopper is flexible, so you should be able to do this by just bending the attachment legs on the stopper. Once these have both been removed, you should be able to remove the stopper easily. Stoppers are made from rubber, so they can easily be disposed of in your regular garbage.

Step 3: Install the New Stopper

Finally, the time has come to install your new stopper. First, remove it from the packaging and make sure your new chain is properly attached. Then attach the new connection legs to the hooks on the overflow pole to create the hinge that your stopper relies on. With your hand, make sure the new stopper will easily move both up and down on its seat without resistance.

Next, attach the stopper to the handle using the new hook attached to the new stopper chain. Once this is firmly attached, press the handle on your toilet a few times to make sure the stopper lifts and closes without any snags or hang-ups.

You may need to make a few adjustments to ensure the new stopper is seated properly. A properly-seated stopper should leave no gaps for water to leak down into the bowl below, should return to this position after being lifted by the handle, and likewise should lift effortlessly when the flush lever is pressed or pulled. This may involve changing the length of the chain (most chains can be adjusted by simply moving the attachment hook to a different link) or repositioning the stopper to allow it to close and open easily.

Once the flapper appears to be properly seated, turn your toilet’s water supply back on at the valve behind the toilet once again and allow the tank to fill. As long as you have done everything right, the trickling should be gone, and your toilet shouldn’t run without being flushed anymore!

If your toilet is experiencing a more complex problem that you need help with, call Dial One Johnson Plumbing Cooling & Heating at (972) 362-9797 to request a service appointment today.