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Know Your Toilet: How the Flapper Works and When to Replace It

Toilet Flapper

You may not give your toilet flapper much thought, but this little component is essential for keeping your toilet working the way it should. Knowing when and how to replace it will help you avoid trouble with your toilet. Knowing when and how to replace it will help you avoid trouble with your toilet.

Your Toilet Flapper’s Job

The toilet flapper is the component inside your toilet tank that lets water flow out of the tank and into the bowl when you flush. This round, rubber disc is attached to the bottom of the overflow tube, usually by mounting arms that hook onto ears on either side of the overflow tube. Pull the chain attached to the flapper and the flapper rises up to let water out of the tank.

Replacing a Worn-Out Toilet Flapper

Over time, toilet flappers harden or warp, which prevents them from creating a seal and stopping water from entering the bowl after a flush. A constantly running toilet is one sign of a worn-out flapper. To test your flapper’s performance, put a few drops of food coloring into the tank water. Don’t flush the toilet. If after 30 minutes you find colored water in the toilet bowl, replace the flapper yourself or call a plumber to do the job for you.

To replace the flapper, first shut off the water supply to your toilet and flush to drain the tank. Unhook the chain from the flush lever. Remove the flapper from the overflow tube either by sliding it off or by unhooking the mounting arms from the overflow tube’s side ears, depending on the flapper’s design.

Your new flapper most likely has a ring in the back. If your old flapper was attached to the overflow tube by side ears, cut the ring off the new flapper so the mounting arms can be hooked into place. If there are no ears on the overflow tube, the flapper should be slid into place using the ring.

If you could use some help with home plumbing repairs, contact us at Reliance Home Services in the Los Angeles area.

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