Introduction: Replacing a Broken Toilet Flapper
The back of the toilet is called the tank. Within the tank there are many parts: the handle, handle arm, chain, flapper, flush valve, overflow tube, fill tube, fill valve, and a floater. When you flush your toilet you are making use of the handle, handle arm, chain, and flapper. You push down the handle, which is part of a lever-like system with the handle arm. The handle arm then rises pulling on the chain and raising the flapper. Similar to a water stopper in a bathtub, a flapper is the piece that stops the flow of water down the flush valve once the tank is drained as well as holds the water in the tank when the toilet is not in active use. The toilet measures its water level using a floater. The floater can either be a balloon-like structure extending from the fill valve or attached to the fill valve itself. When the water level is low more water comes in; this happens when you flush. If the flapper is damaged or malfunctioned, there will be a constant draining of water in the tank. This makes an audible and continuous "filling" noise, which is the first sign you have an issue with the "guts" of your toilet. All pieces necessary for replacing your flapper can be purchased at any local hardware store. There are no tools necessary for replacing the flapper. Learning how to replace a flapper on your own can save anywhere from $80-$100 or more depending on the plumber. The whole process takes less than 20 minutes.
Step 1: Turn Off the Water
The first step to replacing a toilet flapper is to turn off the water. The valve stem is located on either the bottom left or bottom right of the toilet. This toilet in particular has the valve stem rising from the floor and heading directly into the tank. The valve stem can occasionally be coming out of the wall or the toilet itself. Turning off the water is not an essential part of the installation of a flapper, but it can be hard and uncomfortable to work while your hands are submerged in water. If you are replacing both the flapper and the fill valve as we are speaking of in this instruction set, it is extremely necessary to turn off the water. The constant draining and re-filling sound and process can also be difficult to work with. Once the valve is turned off, simply flushing the toilet will dispose any water remaining in the tank.
Step 2: Remove the Chain From the Handle Arm
Once the water has been drained, one can remove the lid to the tank and find the flapper chain. The chain is exactly as it sounds. There is small clip that attaches the chain to the handle arm. The chain and handle arm are both almost always attached to the left of the toilet. While chains are generally similar it is still important to know what brand of toilet you have. The workings of the toilet can vary with brand or manufacturer. Some bigger brands are Kholer, American Standard, Toto, and Saniflo. The brand is generally listed right at the base of the bowl.
Step 3: Remove the Fill Valve
To remove the fill valve, you want to start by unscrewing the supply line. The supply line is attached at the bottom of the tank. Then you can unscrew the fill valve using the nut at the bottom of the valve structure. This step is where you will see a lot of water leakage. The water level in the tank is controlled by the fill valve. The float is attached to fill valve which measures water level. When the water level falls too low, the fill valve opens up and allows the pressurized water to come through and re-fill the tank.
Step 4: Remove the Old Flapper
As mentioned earlier the flush valve is essentially the hole that the water drains from in your toilet. Pull up to remove the flapper. The old flapper can be trashed or recycled. Most all flappers are rubber. It is important to examine the flapper before disposal. Being as all of the pieces function together it can occasionally be hard to figure out which piece is the issue. A misshapen flapper would generally mean that you can proceed with the replacement. If the flapper is carries an ideal form and does not show any degradation signs from occurrences such as overly-acidic water or age then you should look elsewhere for the problem.
Step 5: Replace the Fill Valve
First to replace the fill valve, the black grommet should then be stuck down in the hole and the new the new fill valve should be stuck through the grommet threads first. The white nut should be screwed on from the bottom as tight as your hands can get it to seal the structure and prevent the tank from leaking.
Step 6: Replace the Flapper
Remove the flapper from the package. There are two hinges on the back of the flush valve. Place the flapper on the flush valve and connect the hinges. Lastly reattach the chain to the handle arm. At this point it will become obvious if you have the correct flapper and chain for your toilet.
Step 7: Turn the Water Back On
Going back to the valve stem, turn the water back on. It will take some time for the bowl to re-fill, but it should not take much longer than the average re-fill time when flushing your toilet. If your toilet is taking longer than expected to re-fill this is a sign that either the replacement was done incorrectly, the new flapper is faulty, or the issue is elsewhere within the system. Most likely you will be able to determine if the replacement was done incorrectly prior to reaching this step. Signs of an incorrect replacement or product can include the hinges not lining up, the flapper not fitting tightly into the flush valve, or a damaged product/package. If an outside problem has arisen, before calling the plumber one can check the overflow tube, fill tube, fill valve, or floater.
Step 8: Flush the Toilet and Check for Leaks
The final step is to flush your toilet. Flushing your toilet allows you to check that everything is in working condition. If you flush your toilet and it does not re-fill you may want to double check that you turned on the water correctly.
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