How to Fix a Toilet Flapper Leak

Do you know how to fix a home toilet that won’t stop running? If water continuously runs into your toilet tank after flushing – you probably have a leak. Many toilet leaks in your home will happen if the round rubber seal at the bottom of your toilet tank that stops water from draining out (flapper) is damaged. This round rubber is what we call the Toilet Flapper.

How Does the Flapper Work?

For the quality home toilets, the flapper will comes attached to a chain and inside the toilet’s water tank. You should easily identify it when you look inside an empty toilet water tank before installing your flush toilet.

The chain is subsequently attaches to the toilet’s handle so that when you flush your toilet  after use, the chain pulls the flapper up to release the water from the tank and into the bowl and at the same time create more room for fresh water to flow into the toilet bowl.

The water that runs into the toilet bowl when the flapper is released is what creates the flush that cleans the waste. Once you are done flushing, the flapper goes back to its original position and gives a complete seal to the toilet tank drain.

It gives the outlet a tight seal (airtight seal) and prevents continuous flow of water into the toilet bowl. This tight seal is maintained until you flush your toilet again. Without that tight seal your toilet won’t stop running and you will incur huge water loss and high water bills too.

What Causes Flapper Leaks?

There are two major causes of flapper leaks. First the flapper can either be out of position. If it is then it won’t provide the optimal seal that your toilet’s outlet requires to keep the water from passing through.

Secondly the flapper could be damaged. Too much overuse can cause wear and tear to your toilet’s flapper. This could tear it, poke holes in it, or weaken the originally tight seal thus letting water through.

The third but rather uncommon cause is when a smaller flapper is fitted into a big outlet. This will cause leakage. The best thing is to make sure that the toilet flapper is actually a perfect fit for the outlet in question.

How Do You Fix Flapper Toilet Leak?

First inspect your toilet to make sure that it is the flapper that’s leaking. Sometimes your toilet leak might be caused by other things other than the flapper. It could be the faulty float, low inlet valve, or broken bullock.

To make sure that it is your toilet flapper that’s leaking, it is important that you test the flapper. Testing a toilet’s flapper for leakage is really simple. Here is what you should do.

  • Turn off the main water supply to the toilet (keep the shutoff valve off).
  • Wait for about 15 min to see if the water levels in the toilet tank drop.
  • If the level drops, there is problem (either the flapper chain is too tight or flapper damaged).

Nonetheless, you must make sure that the tank is not cracked in any way. If the chain is too tight it will prevent the flapper from dropping tightly into the toilet seat. If the flapper is damaged, it might leak.

Replace the Flapper

Replacing your toilet’s flapper is no brainer too. All you need to do is to follow up these simple tips.

  • Turn off the shutoff valve (main water supply).
  • Drain water from the toilet tank/ flush your toilet (hold down your toilet’s handle)
  • Sponge the remaining water with a cloth.
  • Wipe the flapper seat (use a clean cloth).
  • Make sure there is no debris or dirt.
  • Inspect the seat for cracks or splits.
  • Inspect the flapper (make sure it fits tightly/ it’s not torn)
  • Pull it loose if damaged or worn and replace with new one
  • Use a matching flapper (tightly wrap it onto the hinges)

Hinges are never easy to spot. You should check the base of the overflow tube to find hinges and neatly wrap your flapper. If you are doing it yourself, you should use the toilet’s user manual to make your work easy.

Minimizing Toilet Flapper Leaks

In order to minimize your toilet flapper from leaking, there are some tips that could easily help you. They include the following.

  • Make sure that you replace the flapper after a few years.
  • Carry out routine toilet flapper check to find out if the flapper is okay.
  • When buying the flapper use your old flapper as sample in the hardware shop.
  • Use your toilet appropriately – many damages come from misuse of the toilets.
  • In case of the toilet leak always identify the cause before running to the flapper.

Irrespective of all these, toilets can also leak due to wear and tear. Most flush toilets will have a lifespan of ten years plus. If they have exceeded such a lifespan, the best thing to do is to make sure that you install a new toilet or replace the internal accessories.

Running toilets are generally expensive. In fact the latest research states that over 60% of water wastage in the US comes from fault and leaky toilets. This should show you how much dangerous a leaky toilet can be. You should therefore make sure that you keep your toilet in shape always.

Work closely with the nice toilet reviews. You should also have an expert toilet plumber on the sides and if possible take a short course on plumbing. Reading flush toilets and plumbing articles is however my favorite way of getting the best knowledge about toilets without spending so much. You must identify expert websites first.


There are many ways of skinning a cat. So if you have inspected your toilet leak and found out it’s the flapper causing you problems, you can follow this simple procedure from toilerated experts and fix it. You don’t have to spend a dollar more on a plumber.

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