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How to Replace a Toilet Flapper

Your toilet may look perfectly functional, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. For instance, a broken toilet flapper means your toilet won’t flush properly. Fortunately, with the right tools and a bit of time, you can replace the toilet flapper yourself.

What You’ll Need

You need to put in some work to get your toilet to work, but don’t fret — all it takes to get the job done is some patience, a few tools, and the step-by-step instructions listed below.


Here are the part and pieces you’ll need to get the job done right:

  • Toilet flapper


  • Towel or rag

  • Paper towels

  • Pump pliers

  • Adjustable wrench

  • Flashlight

  • Wire cutters

  • Needle nose pliers

  • Rubber gloves

DIY Toilet Flapper Replacement

Once you’ve gathered all your tools, you’re ready to replace your toilet flapper. Follow these step-by step instructions to get your toilet up and running in no time.

Think you’ll need a helping hand? Connect with a Remote Assist expert who can walk you through the job over a phone call or video chat.

  • On the left side of the toilet under the tank you’ll find the toilet supply shut-off valve. Turn this valve handle clockwise (or towards the right) until it can no longer turn. Some valves are quarter-turn valves, so you only have to turn the handle a quarter turn to shut off. Other valves use compression, where you spin the handle until it squeezes tight.

    If you’re using pliers, use one set to hold the valve in place and the other to turn the handle. Some valves have a packing nut that may drip when they’re shut off. You can use an adjustable wrench to tighten the packing nut to stop it from dripping.

    Toilet flapper replacement DIY video

    CAUTION: Turn the handle gently. With too much force, the supply pipe can break in the wall or start to leak.

  • Once you’ve removed the tank lid, carefully place it down on the floor and use your towel as an extra buffer to prevent damaging the floor or the lid when setting it down.

    CAUTION: Tank lids are heavy and can break easily. So be sure to place it on the floor in a spot where it has no chance of falling, breaking, or being accidentally stepped on.

  • Hold the handle down until the water level is as low as possible.

  • Be gentle when handling the clasp and lever. Both plastic and brass toilet handle levers can become brittle, causing them to bend or break.

  • Complete this step on one side at a time. Some flapper arms are stiff. If possible, use both your hands to hold the arm in place and put pressure on the ear to remove it. Be careful not to break the flush valve.

  • Older flappers, usually black rubber ones, may bleed a black dye that can stain your hands or other surfaces like your bathroom rug or floor. It’s smart to use rubber gloves to protect your hands and keep an eye out for any unwanted dripping.

  • You can use paper towels or a cloth to clean any debris from the flush valve rim where the flapper makes its seal. If there’s any stubborn build up, use an old toothbrush to scrub it away.

  • Install the new flapper by placing the ear onto the flush valve assembly arm. Do this one side at a time and be careful not to put pressure on the flush valve overflow tube, which can cause both the tube and the flush valve arms to break.

  • When completing this step, you should go a couple of links longer than needed so there’s slack on the chain. If there’s not enough slack, it can prevent the flapper from making a proper seal. If there’s too much slack, the chain can get caught under the flapper or the flapper won’t be pulled high enough for a good flush.

  • Like all the other steps, handle this one with care.

  • Make sure the flapper comes up high enough to let the water through and makes a good seal once it lands back in place. Adjust the chain again if necessary. If there’s a lot of excess chain, you can use your wire cutters to snip off the rest.

  • Be sure the tank lid is facing the right direction and that it’s sitting on the tank securely so there’s no potential for it to slide off and break.

  • Turn the toilet supply valve back on by turning it counterclockwise. If the packing nut didn’t leak when you turned the valve off, it can leak when you turn it back on. Tighten the packing nut by turning it clockwise as needed to stop the drip.

NOTE: This content is for informational purposes only, and HomeX and its affiliates disclaim all liability related to it. If you decide to perform any tasks based on this information, you assume all risks, including the risk of loss or damage to property or personal injury.

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