How To Remove A Hard Plastic Toilet Flapper (Do This!)

How to Remove a Hard Plastic Toilet Flapper

Is your toilet running all the time? Perhaps you have heard the “phantom flushing” in the middle of the night and wondered if you are going crazy. It turns out that this is a fairly common problem and one that can be fixed in a number of ways. More often than not, the flapper is the culprit.

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To remove a hard plastic toilet flapper, turn the water off and remove the tank lid. You will need to get rid of the water in the tank. Then, remove both of the flapper arms so you can then remove the flapper. If you have an open-loop flapper, you only need to remove one arm. 

If you’re confused about what to do in order to remove your toilet’s flapper, don’t worry! We’ve got you. Let’s get started.

What Does The Flapper Do?

The role of the flapper is to create a seal around the overflow pipe. Basically, the flapper is what keeps the water in the tank until the toilet is flushed.

More often than not, the flapper is made of either rubber or hard plastic. They attach to posts or pegs on the flush valve.

When the flapper cannot form a proper seal, one of two things can happen. The flapper will close prematurely, resulting in a weak flush. It could also fail to seal properly, leading to the toilet running non-stop. The solution is to either adjust the chain that connects to the flapper or replace it.

How To Remove A Hard Plastic Flapper

Removing the plastic flapper is fairly easy. For experienced DIYers, it should take no more than a few minutes.

If it takes you a little longer, that is normal and nothing to be concerned with. There are a few steps to follow to get the job done.

Step 1: Get Prepared And Turn the Water Off

First and foremost, arm yourself to do the job properly. Grab some rubber gloves, a small cup and bucket, a pair of scissors or pliers, a towel, and a sponge. If you are looking to replace the flapper, have the new one ready to go.

When you have everything ready, turn off the water before you start messing with any components. Most of the time, the water supply is either to the left of the toilet or on the wall. You can cut off the water supply by turning the faucet in a counterclockwise direction.

Step 2: Remove The Tank Lid

Now that the water supply has been properly cut off, it is time to get inside the toilet tank. To do that, you will need to remove the lid. The lid is a little heavy, so handle it with care. You don’t want to pick it up and drop it as it could potentially chip or break.

Place the lid off to the side so that it won’t fall or get damaged. You want to keep it out of the way for two reasons. First, you will need a little room to stand over the tank. For two, you don’t want the lid slipping and falling on your feet.

Step 3: Remove The Water

Turning off the water will keep any more water from entering the tank, but what about the water that is already there? Strap on your gloves, grab your bucket and cup, and do it the old fashion way. It may take a little bit of time to scoop most of the water out.

You can either dump the water down the sink or use it to water your flowers or plants. The important thing is to remove the water from the tank so that you can get easier access to the flapper and the connecting components.

Step 4: Removal

Now comes the moment of truth: time to remove the flapper. Some hard plastic flappers have a chain or a plastic arm that attaches to the lever. You have to remove those in order to remove the plastic flapper. From there, it comes down to which type of hard plastic flapper that you have.

If you have an open-loop flapper, then you have to remove one of the arms. Make sure that you keep the post down while you do. When you remove it from the post, do the same thing on the other end to completely detach it.

If you have a closed-loop flapper, you have to move the entire set off to one side. When you remove the arm on the left, then take out the left side from its peg. Do the same thing for the right side as well and you can remove the flapper entirely.

Adjusting The Flapper

Most of the time, the issue with the flapper requires an adjustment, not a removal. That’s good news as it is relatively easy to adjust the flapper.

Should your toilet run consistently or is a bit slow to fill, you may just need to adjust the flapper or the chain that connects to it (or the arm for hard plastic flappers). Here is how you would do that.

Step 1: Cut The Water

You know the drill here. Never perform work when the water supply is on. The last thing you want to do is take a small issue and turn it into a larger one by having water go everywhere.

Save yourself the time by finding the shutoff valve and turning it clockwise until it doesn’t turn anymore. In just about any bathroom that you find, it will either be on the wall behind the toilet or to the left of the toilet itself. With the water supply off, you are free to continue.

Step 2: Removing The Lid And Getting To The Chain

With the water off, take the lid off the top of the tank. Set it off to the side so that it doesn’t either fall on your feet or fall and become damaged. You need clear and free access to the inside of the tank to get this done.

When inside the tank, look for the chain. It is connected to the lever arm by way of a pin. Unhook the pin from the lever arm and move it up a few links on the aforementioned chain. Most of the time, you want somewhere in the half-inch neighborhood for slack on the chain.

Step 3: Replace The Lid And Try Again

Put the lid back into place and test out your toilet again. You may notice a difference in the way that it flushes, too. If the toilet doesn’t keep running, you’ve managed a successful adjustment. But if it does keep running, you may have to go back in and try again.

Just be careful not to make the chain too long or your toilet bowl might not get the water it needs to flush. If you do this twice or more and the problem persists, then you may have to completely remove the flapper and replace it entirely.

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The Different Types Of Toilet Flappers

While we know that flappers are made of either rubber or hard plastic, there are actually three different types of toilet flappers out there. The type of flapper depends on the type of toilet that you have. Depending on the age of your toilet, you may have a different type as well.

Rubber Flapper

The most common type of flapper out there. The vast majority of modern toilets will have a rubber flapper, so there is some familiarity between modern toilets. The rubber flapper is attached to a chain that acts to lift it, releasing it during the act of flushing.

These flappers are generally pretty durable and trustworthy. But if the chain isn’t properly adjusted, it may not release or seat properly. More often than not, the problem lay with the chain, not the flapper.

Seat Disc

The next most common type of flapper. With a seat disc, you have a plastic disc that acts to cover the overflow tube. Instead of a chain, there is a plastic tub that connects to the disc; both are attached to the overflow tube.

It stays in place due to the weight of the water. When the toilet is flushed, the flapper stays open and ultimately lets the gravity do the work in sealing as the tank fills back up again. The same general concept just a little bit of a different execution.

Tank Ball

This type of flapper is less common these days but can still be found here and there. You may find them on some older toilet models, though with lessening frequency these days. For the tank ball flapper, there is a large rubber ball that sits over the overflow tube. The ball seals the overflow tube, keeping the water in the tank.

Like the rubber flapper, it is attached to a chain. And like the rubber flapper, if the chain is at the wrong length, it may not seal properly. When that happens, you could be staring down a toilet that won’t flush or one that runs continuously. Like the other flappers, you can either adjust the tank ball or replace it entirely if you think that it is at fault.

Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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