Look under the lid of a toilet tank and you will most likely see a chain that is attached to a rubber flapper. When you flush, the chain lifts the flapper up and the water in the tank runs down into the toilet bowl, thereby flushing the toilet. Over time, the rubber of the toilet flapper deteriorates and water begins to seep past the flapper. When this happens, it is time to replace the flapper.
Step 1: Turn off the water supply to the toilet. This can usually be done by closing off the valve located near the stool.
Step 2: Flush the toilet to empty the tank and carefully remove the tank lid. Set the lid somewhere safe. The lid is very fragile and nearly impossible to replace, so don’t break it.
Step 3: Unhook the flapper chain from the end of the flush lever and remove the old flapper. Old flappers can be very gooey. Use rubber gloves or a cloth to remove the flapper. Take the old flapper with you when choosing an appropriate replacement. In today’s market there are lots of options available, but basically if it looks the same, it’s the right one. It is a good idea to spend a little more and purchase an upgraded longer-lasting flapper. These flappers are often red or green and are guaranteed to last five or more years.
Step 4: If the old flapper was attached to the side tabs on the overflow tube and the new flapper has an adapter ring between its two tabs, snip off the adapter ring before installing the new flapper. Install the new flapper in the same manner as the old one was removed. Center it over the drain hole and attach the chain to the flush lever.
Step 5: Turn the water back on and check for leaks around the flapper. Adjust the chain so the lever does not hit the tank lid when you flush, but the flapper stays up long enough for the toilet bowl to empty. This may take some time, but there is a happy medium, and once you find it you will more fully understand and appreciate the amazing dynamics of the modern flush toilet.
Step 6: Replace the tank lid, flush once more for good measure and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
— Have a question? Email Linda Cottin at firstname.lastname@example.org.