The flapper, a piece of rubber or plastic found in the tank of most toilets, is responsible for controlling the flow of water down the bowl during flushing. A flushing toilet works by raising the flapper, which releases water into the bowl at high pressure to flush out waste. To stop water from coming back into the bowl after flushing, the flapper shuts to seal the tank. To put it simply, the flapper controls the water flow and functioning of the flushing system. However, just like most things in life, the more you use the toilet, the more wear and tear the flapper endures. Over time, the flapper may not work properly. When this happens, it’s helpful to know the signs to look for and how to fix the problem.

Signs of a Bad Toilet Flapper

Signs of a bad toilet flapper include continuous running water in the toilet tank, weak or incomplete flushing and phantom flushes, which is when the toilet spontaneously flushes without anyone using it. Additionally, if the toilet tank doesn’t refill properly after flushing or if there are visible signs of deterioration or damage to the flapper, such as warping or discoloration, the flapper may need replacement.

Causes of a Bad Toilet Flapper

Minerals in the water can certainly cause a toilet flapper to corrode or harden over time, causing it to eventually fail. Wear and strain on the flapper’s rubber or plastic parts, brought on by continuous usage, may also lead to rips or cracks. Extra wear and malfunctions sometimes occur as the result of a poorly executed installation or modification. When taken as a whole, these issues reduce the flapper’s sealing power, which, in turn, leads to water leaking out and ineffective flushing of the toilet.

How To Fix a Bad Toilet Flapper

Look for cracks or abnormalities on the flapper — indicators of wear and tear — to confirm the problem. Adding a few drops of food colorant to the tank water is a quick way to check the flapper seal. If the colored water drips into the bowl without flushing, it’s a red flag. To repair a malfunctioning flapper, have a plumber disconnect the water supply, remove the old flapper and replace it with a new one. Make sure the new one seals properly to avoid leaks and return it to its ideal flushing state.

Other Toilet Repair Warning Signs and Fixes

Bad toilet flappers aren’t the only toilet problem that homeowners in Idaho have to deal with. If your toilet shows any of the following warning signs, it’s best to contact a plumber right away.

Toilet Keeps Running

Several things, like a broken flapper valve, fill valve or float adjustment, can cause a toilet to run constantly. This not only wastes water but can also lead to higher water bills and potential water damage. Plumbers typically inspect the internal parts to find the problem and then fix it by cleaning mineral deposits, adjusting the float arm or replacing parts, like the flapper or fill valve. Fixing it quickly not only saves water but also prevents further damage to the toilet and nearby areas.

Water Pooling Around the Base

A toilet that slowly leaks around the base may have a damaged wax ring or a loose toilet flange, allowing water to seep out. This can lead to water damage to the floor and subfloor, as well as mold and mildew growth. Plumbers typically fix this issue by replacing the wax ring and ensuring the toilet flange is secure. They may also inspect the toilet’s bolts and gaskets for any damage and make necessary repairs to ensure a proper seal, thus preventing future leaks.

Won’t Flush

When a toilet won’t flush, a plumber will check for blockages in the drain, broken flappers or problems with the chain or lever that controls the flushing process. Either there’s a loose component, a clogged drain or a part that needs replacing. Plumbers have industry-specific knowledge and access to special tools that provide long-lasting, cost-effective solutions.

Phantom Flushes

Phantom flushing happens when a toilet flushes on its own, without anyone using it or touching the handle. This can occur due to mineral deposits blocking the flushing mechanism, a faulty fill valve or a leaking flapper. When addressing this issue, a plumber typically starts by inspecting the fill valve and flapper for signs of damage or wear. The easiest fix involves nothing more than cleaning a dirty valve or flapper. More complex repairs may be necessary if the problem persists, such as adjusting the flush handle or replacing worn-out parts.

Low Flushing Power

Does the toilet have low water pressure when you flush it? There are several possible causes, including clogged drain pipes, a broken fill valve or a poor water supply. When the pressure gets extremely low, the toilet will hardly flush at all and may even clog. This can lead to inadequate waste removal, which is a major frustration as well as a health risk. To fix the issue, a plumber will inspect the flapper, fill valve and drain pipes. A clog somewhere else in the home’s plumbing might be to blame. If this is the case, a major plumbing repair might be in your future. Fortunately, expert plumbers know how to pinpoint the exact cause and provide the most cost-effective solution possible.

Unpleasant Odors

Toilets can emit unpleasant scents if they have a broken wax ring, a leaking seal or clogged vent pipes. These odors can range from musty to sewage-like. A plumber will inspect the toilet’s wax ring and seals for leaks or blockages in the vent pipe. Repairs may include fixing leaks, clearing vent pipe blockages or replacing the wax ring. It’s crucial to address these odors promptly to prevent further damage and maintain a clean bathroom.

Loose Toilet Handle

Toilet handles become loose as the lift chain, lever and flush valve assembly wear out over time. Loose mounting bolts are another common cause. To determine the source, a plumber will check the mechanism of the handle. Changing the mounting bolts or tightening them usually fixes the issue. If the flush valve assembly has severe damage, a plumber might suggest replacing the whole thing.

Trickling Water After You Flush

Water shouldn’t trickle into the bowl after the toilet flushes. When this happens, it usually hints at the presence of a broken flapper valve that can’t provide a tight seal. This constant dripping signifies water wastage and potential spikes in water bills. To address the issue, plumbers typically inspect the flapper for dirt or damage that might be hindering its sealing ability. Often, a simple fix involves cleaning or adjusting the flapper. However, to ensure effective sealing and halt ongoing water trickling, replacing the flapper may be necessary.

When your home experiences plumbing problems, Access Heating & Air Conditioning is here to help. We work on HVAC systems of all types and offer plumbing repairs, duct replacement, AC refrigeration services and more. If you need a toilet repaired, call us right away to access a licensed plumber in Meridian, ID.


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