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Repairing A Leaking Toilet Flapper Valve
Between flushes, my toilet makes a noise like water is running into it. What is happening and how do I fix it?
The most likely problem is that water is leaking around the flapper in the bottom of
the toilet tank. When the water in the tank drops to a certain level, the intake valve
thinks "Duh... somebody musta flushed, so I better turn on and fill da tank!"
The valve turns on, but since the water level has only dropped a few inches at most, it
only stays on for a few seconds, till the level is back up to normal.
Before you replace the flapper, lift it up and run your finger around the flapper seat.
Are there any bits of stuff stuck to the seat? If so, dislodge them and see if that solved
the problem. If your hands became blackened from handling the seat or the flapper, then
you have found your answer... the flapper is dissolving and must be replaced.
Chlorine or acids in the water cause rubber flappers to
deteriorate. In-the-tank automatic toilet cleaners generally contain
so much chlorine that they will destroy the flapper (and all other seals and
gaskets), making it twist and distort. This causes a poor seal leading
to intermittent and eventually constant leakage.
DO NOT USE IN-THE-TANK
TOILET BOWL CLEANERS
THAT CONTAIN CHLORINE... YOU WILL BE SORRY!!
The flapper is a little rubber workhorse., and replacement of a flapper is one of
plumbing's easiest jobs. But, in deference to Murphy's Law, exercise some caution in
removing the old flapper and installing the new one. If you break any plastic parts, you
may be in for a more extensive repair than you bargained for!! The skinny of flapper
repair is to simply pull the flapper off of the mounting 'ears', or unscrew or unsnap it
from its mount. Put the replacement back in the same place. The chain of the new flapper
should connect in the same place as the old one. Of course, life isn't always that simple.
There are a few types of flappers, and each one requires a slightly different installation
Types of flappers and their installation...
It is a good idea to turn the water off to the toilet before replacing the flapper,
though you can replace some styles in under a minute! Just one less distraction from doing
the best job you can.
This is by far the most common type
of flapper, available from many manufacturers in various styles and appearances. Some are
made entirely out of rubber, and some, such as the Bulls Eye® flapper from Fluidmaster®
, use a solid plastic framework with an integral rubber seal. Both types of flappers clip
onto little ears at the base of the overflow pipe.
When you attach the flapper chain to the flush arm, it should be just slightly loose,
so the flapper closes completely. If the chain is TOO loose, the flapper will not be
lifted high enough to "float", and will not stay open without you holding down
the flush handle.
One peculiarity with flappers is that on some toilets, one style of flapper might work
while another one will not. So if you replace the flapper, adjust it correctly, clean the
seat, and it still doesn't seal... don't cry, just purchase another brand or style of
flapper and try again!
a ball-shaped rubber flapper that moves
vertically when flushed, pulled by a threaded lift wire attached to the trip arm. To
replace, unscrew the ball from the lift wire and replace with a new one. Unlike the other
flappers discussed here, this one can go out of adjustment. There is a guide arm through
which the lift wire travels, and it must be directly centered over the flapper seat or the
flapper may leak.
Is your seat disk snap-on or threaded?
This is an older
style American Standard flapper... a circular disk about 3 inches across. It is attached
to a fairly large plastic assembly, hinged at the base of the overflow tube. Attached to
it is a small cylindrical reservoir or cup which is filled with water. When the toilet in
flushed, the entire framework tips back, lifting the attached flapper disk. The reservoir
acts as a counterbalance to the flapper disk, and holds the flapper open. The reservoir
begins to empty itself through small holes in its base. Once it is sufficiently empty, the
plastic framework falls back to its closed position, firmly seating the flapper disk in
the seat. by this time, the toilet tank has drained and is ready to refill.
The seat disk flapper comes in two styles, threaded
or snap-on. The biggest problem working with either of
these is that you don't have much room in the toilet to work. Since you risk of breaking
the entire enchilada if you try to remove the assembly from the tank, it's usually best to
do the repair in the tank, and be careful!
Use a flashlight, with a small inspection mirror if necessary, to see how the old disk
is mounted. If you can see a small threaded bolt holding the disk on, grab the top of the
bolt with a pair of small pliers. Spin the disk off counterclockwise. Looking from the
top, counterclockwise LOOKS clockwise. Then you can screw on the new disk.
The snap-on type can be a little tricky if the flapper has hardened from years of
chemical assault from chlorine. Twist the flapper on the base to loosen it from the knob,
then rock and wiggle it to soften it up. After working it for a minute, you can start
trying to ease it off of the knob it has been pressed onto. Just be patient and keep
working at it.
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Written by Jerry Alonzy
Jerry Alonzy, a.k.a. the Natural Handyman, has been an active handyman for over 30 years with experience in most areas of home repair and renovation.
As a do-it-yourself author and web developer since 1995, he has been featured in USA Today, the Today Show and on radio shows, magazines, newspapers and websites. His material appears widely on the web, but primarily on his website... The Natural Handyman. You can also find him on Google+.