Replacing a flush valve (flapper) is perhaps the most common repair procedure performed on an old toilet, according to your local Olympia plumber. Olympia is a very historic town with lots of old Victorian homes, says Mr. Rooter.
Over time and due to the effects of chlorine and minerals in the water, the flexible flapper that seals the drain in the center of the tank becomes rigid.
When this happens, water will start seeping out of the tank and you will hear it occasionally refilling on its own, (sometimes referred to as a "hissing toilet".) Fortunately, replacing a flapper is an easy task, says Mr. Rooter. Make sure to purchase a high-quality flapper that boasts of staying flexible in hard water. Then, as with all toilet repairs, turn the water off, and flush the toilet to be rid of the water in the tank.
Mr. Rooter’s Tip of the Week
Tip #1 First things first, remove the old flapper by detaching it from the tank lever. (Note where it is connected to the lever or tape the location.) The new one should connect to the same spot.
Tip #2 Pull off the tabs that connect the flapper from their posts on the bottom of the overflow tube. Discard the flapper.
Tip #3 If the replacement comes with a circular center, cut it out with a sharp scissors, leaving only the tabs.
Tip #4 Attach the tabs of the new flapper to the posts on the bottom of the overflow tube.
Tip #5 Insert the hook about halfway up the chain.
Tip #6 Connect the opposite end of the hook to the handle arm. Push the handle down to see if the handle raises the flapper fully at the same time the handle would hit the tank lid, or just before.
Tip #7 Adjust the position of the hook on the chain until it does.
Tip #8 As the handle is released, the flapper must close fully but still leave some slack in the chain. Plastic chains will connect directly to the handle but the logic of opening and closing remains the same.
PLUMBING TRADE SECRETS: When you think you have the chain adjusted properly, turn the water on and let the toilet refill. Adjust the chain so the flapper opens fully and seats firmly in the drain hole when closing.
BONUS TIP: Have some paper towels handy; sometimes the black coloring on the flapper will rub off and can be messy.