How to Replace a Toilet Flapper

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  • 01 of 05


    Replacement toilet flapper
    Aaron Stickley


    If you take the cover off the tank of your toilet and peer inside, you will see an unusual component down in the bottom--a kind of hinged flap valve made of plastic and soft rubber (usually black or red) that is attached on one side to pegs that extend out from the vertical overflow tube that's part of the flush valve unit. 

    If you depress the flush lever while looking down inside the tank, you will notice that a thin chain attached to this rubber flapper lifts the flap up as the handle...MORE is depressed, allowing the water to rush down into the toilet bowl, initiating the flush cycle 

    When a toilet continues to trickle and run after a flush cycle, the most common reason for the problem lies right here, with the flapper. When the flapper fails to seat itself properly back into the flush valve opening after a flush is complete, water can continue to trickle down into the toilet bowl and the water inlet valve will continue to run because the water level never reaches a height that will shut the valve off. 

    Since the flapper is made of soft rubber, in can harden over time, losing its resilience. Once this happens, it can no longer form a tight enough seal to stop the flow of water through the flush opening.

    Luckily, the flapper is an inexpensive part that can be easily replaced.

    Difficulty Level

    • Very easy

    Tools and Materials You will Need

    • New flapper
    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Turn Off the Water

    Turning off the water to the toilet
    Aaron Stickley
    1. First, turn off the water to the toilet by closing the shut-off valve located outside the toilet.
    2. Drain the toilet tank simply by flushing the toilet after the water is turned off.
    3. You can sponge out any remaining water if you want, but this is not strictly necessary.
    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Remove the Old Flapper

    Removing old toilet flapper
    Aaron Stickley

    Now you need to remove the old toilet flapper.

    1. First, disconnect the small chain attached to the top of the flapper from the handle arm running from the toilet handle. There is usually a small clip fitting at the top of the chain that is simply unclipped from the flush arm. 
    2. Next, disconnect the side ears on the flapper off the pegs extending from the sides of the flush valve tube. On flappers made of hard plastic, these ears will snap loose; on flappers made of soft rubber, it's a matter of...MORE sliding the ears off the pegs.
    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Prepare the New Flapper

    New toilet flapper with ring cut off
    Aaron Stickley

    The most common toilet configuration has the flapper attached to the pegs on the sides of the flush valve. If this is how your toilet is built, you will need to cut off the ring on the back of the new flapper; it won't be needed.

    If your flush valve doesn’t have the side pegs for the flapper,  you will need to use the ring to slide the flapper into place over the overflow tube.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Install the New Flapper

    New toilet flapper
    Aaron Stickley
    1. Put the new flapper into place and hook each ear of the flapper onto the pegs on the flush valve.
    2. Connect the flapper chain onto the toilet handle rod. Make any necessary adjustments to the chain. It needs to be long enough to allow the flapper to sit firmly in place but not so long that it gets caught under the flapper as the water rushes out. It can take some testing to get the length of the chain exactly right 
    3. Turn the water back on and test by flushing several times.