How to Troubleshoot the Toilet Flapper

How to Troubleshoot the Toilet Flapper | GeiselIn many common toilet dysfunctions, the toilet flapper valve is the usual suspect. Situated in the bottom of the tank, this large round rubber or plastic valve controls the flow of water from the tank into the bowl to initiate flushing. Problems that may be traced to the toilet flapper include weak or insufficient flushing function, a fill valve that “runs on” constantly, as well as the annoying phenomenon where fill water into the tank repeatedly turns on and off by itself at random intervals. Here’s how to determine what’s going on and why.

Weak Flushes

When the flush handle chain lifts the flapper valve, the valve should remain open until about 80 percent of the water in the tank has flushed into the bowl. If the chain isn’t the right length — either too slack or is tangled and too short — it may not open the valve far enough, or keep it open long enough, to release enough water for proper flushing. Also, if the flapper valve itself is old and “waterlogged” it may flop shut quickly, before sufficient tank water has been released.

Run-On Toilet

Remove the tank lid and observe the round overflow tube. Is water flowing into the overflow? If so, you’ve probably got a defective fill valve. If water isn’t flowing down the overflow tube, it’s probably flowing out through an open flapper. The valve may be inhibited by a tangled operating chain that holds it open constantly. If the chain is too slack, conversely, a segment of the chain may be interfering with proper flapper sealing.

On And Off Water Sounds

You may hear the tank fill valve actuate at intervals, run for a few seconds, then stop again. Pour a small amount of food coloring into the toilet tank. Wait about an hour, then check the water in the bowl. If traces of the tank coloring show up in the bowl, you’ve got a worn flapper valve that needs replacement by a qualified plumber.

If you suspect toilet flapper problems, call the pros at Geisel Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing for expert diagnosis and repair.

Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues. For more information about toilet flapper troubleshooting and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or give us a call at 440-345-8795.

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