6 Easy Steps to Remove and Replace a Hard Plastic Toilet Flapper

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It could not only be one of the most annoying sounds coming from your toilet, but it is also costing you a lot of money that is literally being flushed down the toilet. It’s hard to believe that something as simple as a hard plastic toilet flapper could cause so many problems, but it does.

In this blog post, we will show you what a toilet flapper is and how to remove and replace a hard plastic toilet flapper in 6 easy steps. We will also talk about when you should remove it and what to do if your toilet doesn’t have a flapper.

how to remove a hard plastic toilet flapper

1 . Stop The Water Flow

The first step is to stop the water flow to your toilet. You can do this by turning off the water supply valve which is usually located behind the toilet.

If you are unsure how to turn off your water supply valve, you can find instructions on how to do this in your toilet’s owner’s manual. If you can’t find your owner’s manual, you can also contact your local plumber for assistance. Alternatively, you can turn off the main water supply.

2 . Empty The Toilet Tank

Once the water supply has been shut off, the toilet tank will not refill, so now is the time to flush the water in the tank allowing you to work on the toilet flapper. Ensure that there is no more water remaining in the tank by holding the flush handle down for a few seconds.

3 . Remove the Toilet Tank Lid

You will need to remove the toilet tank lid to access the toilet flapper. Usually, you can remove the lid by simply just lifting it off the lid, but if it is difficult, you can use a sharp object to wedge in between the seal.

4 . Disconnect Chain

A chain connects the flapper to the flush handle so that when you push the handle, the flapper lifts, allowing water to run down the valve into the tank. This chain needs to be removed from the flush handle side.

5 . Removing a Hard Plastic Toilet Flapper

Toilet flappers are generally held in place by arms that clip onto a small piece of plastic attached to the tank.

Open Loop Arms

These looped arms are, as the name suggests, open. You can pull on the chain while simultaneously pulling on the arms, and they should come away from the tank.

Closed Loop Arms

Closed-looped arms are actually easier to remove as they just slide off the post that they are attached to with relative ease. Simply lift the flapper and slide the hook off the post.

Difficult To Remove

If a flapper has been in the tank for a long time, it can harden and be difficult to remove. In cases like this, do not attempt to pull too hard otherwise, you may damage other parts of the flush system. With some sharp pliers or a blade, simply cut the arms and remove the flapper from its position.

6 . Connect A New Flapper

When replacing your flapper, make sure to purchase the exact same one as they come in different sizes. You can take the flapper you have removed to the hardware store to be sure.

Take the new flapper and place it over the overflow valve and attach the arms in place and connect the chain to the flush handle.

If you notice that your tank has hard water build-up, then this is the perfect opportunity to clean the toilet tank and extend the life of all the components in the tank. This article will take you through the different ways to clean your toilet tank.

How To Adjust A Toilet Flapper

Fluidmaster 504 2-Inch Universal Chlorine Resistant, Long Lasting Flexible Frame Toilet Flapper , Red

In certain cases, the toilet flapper chain may be the culprit, causing a leak; however, you could avoid replacing the toilet flapper with a simple adjustment.

Follow steps 1,2, and 3 above.

  1. Stop the water flow
  2. Empty the toilet tank
  3. Remove the toilet tank lid
  4. Disconnect the chain from the flush handle and reconnect it 2 or 3 links further up, making the chain a little longer, ensuring there is about 1/2 inch slack in the chain

This will solve the problem if that is your issue, to begin with; however, if your toilet is experiencing a leak, then you will probably have to replace your toilet flapper.

What Tools Do I Need to Replace a Toilet Flapper

You will have most of these items in your home already. You will be working in a tight space with delicate parts, so make sure to be careful:

  • Protective rubber gloves
  • Small bucket
  • 2 to 3 towels to absorb water in the toilet tank
  • A blade to cut the arms of any jammed flappers

What Is A Toilet Flapper, And What Does It Do?

Korky 54BP Toilet Tank Flapper - Easy to Install - Made in USA,Black

A toilet flapper is essentially a small device made out of rubber or silicone that sits over the drain pipe, stopping the water from going through to the toilet bowl.

When the flush handle is pulled, a chain pulls the flapper out of its resting position allowing the water to flow into the bowl, eliminating the waste down the drain.

Seated Disk Tank Flapper

The seat disk flapper is a round, flat disk that sits on top of the overflow pipe at the base of the tank. Preventing water from running into the bowl till you pull the flush handle, releasing the flapper and allowing the water to run into the bowl. These types of flappers are no longer used in new toilets.

Tank Ball Flapper

This flapper is also no longer used and technically not a flapper, but it does the same job.

A ball is connected via a wire, rod, or chain to the flush handle, which, when pulled, releases the water into the bowl.

Rubber Toilet Flapper

A rubber toilet flapper is the standard system used in toilets today due to its availability and reliability. A rubber disk sits over the drain creating a seal. Once the flush handle is pushed, it pulls on the chain that moves the flapper up, allowing the water to flow into the toilet bowl.

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Remove a Hard Plastic Toilet Flapper?

Should you replace your toilet flapper? Toilet flappers are made out of rubber which over time loses its flexibility, causing it to harden and crack, allowing the water to continuously leak into the toilet bowl. You can lose up to 10 gallons of water a day which will drive your water bill very high, not to mention the effect it is having on the environment.

The following are good indications that its time to replace the flapper:

  • The water is constantly trying to fill up the tank
  • The flush is not as powerful
  • There is a consistent water leak into the toilet bowl

Are Toilet Flappers Universal

The quick and easy answer is, no toilet flappers are not universal. There is no one size fits all. The setup is almost identical; however certain factors vary, like the size and shape of the flapper.

Typically when it says ‘Universal’ on the package of a toilet flapper, they are not saying that it will work with all toilets but that it is compatible with different brands of toilets.

This can get quite confusing, so we suggest measuring the flapper you have to ensure you get the correct model to fit your toilet, or simply remove the damaged flapper and take that with you to the hardware store for a replacement.

If you know the make and model of your toilet will also determine the toilet flapper that you need to get.

Also read: Toilet Flapper Sizes

How Do You Fix A Toilet Without a Flapper

Korky 100BP Ultra High Performance Flapper Fits Most Toilets - Long Lasting Rubber - Easy to Install - Made in USA, Small, Red

We have looked at issues with toilet flappers in this article. However, there are some toilets that do not have a flapper at all. If your toilet is leaking, and you have identified that it does not have a flapper, then it could be because of the following reasons.

  • Faulty fill valve
  • Faulty lower flush valve seat
  • Deteriorated tower seal

Replace Faulty Fill Valve

When replacing the fill valve, you will need to work in the tank, so shutting the water off should be the first port of call, as it generally is with most jobs in the toilet. Flush the toilet to empty the tank, and then proceed to detach the water supply hose.

Determine whether you need to replace just the fill valve or the entire unit.

Only Fill Valve Replacement

If the base of your fill valve is in good condition, then you will only need to replace the fill valve. Separate the fill hose from the overflow tube and reach down to the base of the fill valve and pull up the lock ring and slide the fill valve off the base.

Install the new fill valve by sliding the new fill valve over the base and snapping the lock ring back into position. Reattach the refill tube to the overflow tube and readjust the new fill valve to the ideal water level setting.

Replacing Entire Unit

If the fill valve base is not in good condition or is damaged, then it is a good idea to replace the entire unit. At this point, your toilet tank should not have any water.

Proceed by unscrewing the water fill hose situated under the tank with an adjustable pair of pliers, and unscrew the lock nut that holds the entire assembly. Detach the fill hose from the overflow tube and slide the whole unit out, including the base.

Once the old unit has been removed, adjust the height of the new unit to match the height of the toilet tank, usually around 1 inch below the edge of the tank. Place the tube in the hole where the old tube was removed from and thread the lock nut back while holding the unit straight, using a wrench to tighten it into position, creating a seal.

Reattach the water hose supply pipe over the lock nut. Now reattach the fill valve’s refill hose to the overflow tube. Ensure that the refill hose does not go past the water line; otherwise, the water will constantly be trying to fill up the tank while simultaneously filling up. If you do have an angle adapter, then install it to avoid having this problem. Follow any instructions that you get with the kit.

Replace the Faulty Lower Flush Valve Seat

Generally, there is a seal on top of the valve that fails and needs replacing, which is quite simple to change. Naturally, if the valve itself has cracked, then it will have to be replaced. You can purchase kits that have the seal and a flapper all in one. Just follow along with the steps outlined below:

  • Empty The Tank: You will need to access the valve under the flapper so draining the water and shutting off the water supply is imperative. Flush your toilet a couple of times to eliminate all the water from the tank, and using some old towels, soak up the remaining water.
  • Disconnect the Old Valve Seat: Lift the flapper off by gently releasing the arms and pulling it out of its sitting position. Simply pull the valve off and check for any residual matter left behind on the surface, as well as any cracks.
  • Clean The Surface: Before attaching the new seal, you will need to clean the surface to ensure it sticks to the surface properly. Use fine sandpaper to rub away any residue and clean with a rag making sure the area is completely dry.
  • Attaching New Seal: If your repair kit has a silicone liquid seal, then put it under the seal valve and push it down on the surface and leave it to dry for 15-30 minutes.
  • Place Flapper Back: Reattach the flapper by hooking the arms or ears back in position and turning the water supply back on. Wait for the tank to fill up and listen for any water leaks. Alternatively, you can add some food coloring to the tank and see if any of the colored water leaks into the toilet bowl.

Replacing Deteriorated Tower Seal

A tower seal or canister is commonly substituted for the average toilet flapper. A cylinder tube allows the water to drain by lifting the seal vertically and dropping it down to close the seal off.

These types of seals tend to be better in functionality; however, even these seals deteriorate over time.

  • Empty The Tank: Ensure you shut off the water supply before flushing the toilet. After a couple of flushes, dry the inside of the tank with a sponge or some old towels.
  • Removing The Fill Hose: This tube is responsible for filling up the tank, and you will need to remove it to be able to access the seal.
  • Remove The Seal: The seal sits around the tower. Pull the tower out of position and pull the seal from its housing, and slide over the tower.
  • Installing A New Tower Seal: Place the new seal over the tower and gently slide it down until it sits in the housing.
  • Put It All Back Together: Place the tower back into its position and reattach the fill hose to the overflow tube and restart the water. Flush the toilet a couple of times and check that the tower is no longer leaking.

FAQ’s Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my toilet constantly running?

This is generally due to a faulty toilet flapper. Once the integrity of the seal is compromised, then water will constantly leak into the bowl. Replacing the flapper is the only way to rectify this problem.

Where is the fill tube in a toilet?

The fill tube is where fresh water comes into the tank and is generally located under the toilet tank on the left-hand side. A tube will run from this hole to the water shutoff valve.

How much does a plumber charge to replace a toilet fill valve?

This can vary from state to state; however, it will generally take a plumber an hour to replace the fill valve. Depending on the hourly rate, we estimate anything from $60 to $150 to complete this job.

What happens if you leave the toilet running?

By allowing the water to run continuously, depending on the size of the leak, you would waste around 600 to 1000 gallons of water per day.

This will drive your water bill up by a considerable amount. Shut the water to the toilet off immediately and make it a priority to fix the leak.

Why does my toilet flapper not stay up?

This could be due to a number of reasons. If the water level is too low, then the flapper will not be able to open properly.

If you have a float ball check that it is not let water in; otherwise, try to readjust the level of the ball to allow more water into the tank. It could also be a faulty flapper or a clogged drain.

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