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If you own a home, you know just how many things can go wrong with your plumbing. However, while most things require a professional’s knowledge, experience, and tools to fix properly, there are certain things which are routine, simple, expected, and can quickly and easily be fixed by just about anyone. One such repair is fixing a leaking flapper in your toilet.

The flapper is a small, simple part that you’ll find at the bottom of your toilet tank, usually made of either rubber or plastic. The purpose of the flapper is to block the drain that drains the tank into the bowl of water, which commences the flushing action. When you turn the handle, the flapper lifts, allowing the water to flow, and the toilet to flush away. However, over time a flapper will eventually corrode, crack, and start to leak. A leaking flapper allows water to leak into the bowl of your toilet, which is wasteful, and can waste hundreds of gallons of water per year if not fixed.

Fixing a damaged or worn-out flapper is a job that just about anyone can do, and we strongly encourage homeowners to do this repair on their own. It’s far more economically-advantageous to do so, and it happens every year or two, so it’s best if you simply do it yourself to save yourself the most money. Fortunately, this fix is extremely simple—it requires no tools, and a replacement flapper part can be purchased at your local home improvement warehouse or hardware store for just a few dollars.

Here’s how you do it.

Step 1: Prepare the Toilet

The first thing you need to do is prepare your toilet for the repair. Start by shutting off the water feed to your toilet. This is usually found along the floor or on the wall immediately behind the toilet in your bathroom. Rotate the handle clockwise and eventually you’ll feel it tighten. When it’s tight, the water is turned off. Then, flush the toilet to drain the tank and leave it empty. From there, remove the lid on your tank to expose the inner workings of your commode.

Step 2: Remove the Old Flapper

Next, you’ll have to remove the old flapper. First, disconnect it from the handle. The two are usually connected by a chain that’s clamped near the top of your tank, where it ideally stays out of water the majority of the time. Once this is disconnected, pop it loose from the hinge it swivels on down at the bottom of your tank. Once this is done, the flapper should come right out of your tank. You can feel free to throw it away in your normal trash.

Step 3: Install the New Flapper

Next, open the new flapper and place it in position at the bottom of the tank. Make sure it creates a tight seal over the drain, and then re-connect the hinge at the bottom of the tank. Then, connect the new chain to your toilet’s flush handle, and turn it a few times to make sure that the flapper comes up when you twist it. You may find that you have to adjust the chain a little bit to get it to work properly.

Step 4: Restart Your Toilet

Once you’re confident the flapper is in place and working well, turn the water to your toilet back on. Turn the water tap that feeds your toilet back on by twisting it counter-clockwise until the water flows freely. You should notice that the bowl and your toilet tank start filling up. Wait a minute and let the tank fill up, then listen closely. If you don’t hear any leaking or dripping sounds, congratulations! The job is done. If there is a leaking sound still, then you may have to flush the toilet to drain the tank and try to re-seat the flapper again, as it’s not completely sealing off the tank drain.

That’s it! You’re done. Four simple steps, and five to ten minutes of your time, and your toilet is sealed and working properly again.

If you’re experiencing a serious plumbing issue and need help from a professional, call Donmar Heating, Cooling & Plumbing at (703) 457-8676 to request an appointment!
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