Toilet Flapper Types (Plus Which One Is Best)
A well-functioning toilet flapper is necessary to the function of any toilet. There are only three main toilet flapper types available: tank ball, seat disk (or disc) and rubber.
Without the proper toilet flapper, you risk nonstop water flow and even leaking which can be damaging and costly. Toilet flappers create a seal that prevents leaks and they let the water go from the tank to the bowl in a proper flow.
There are three most common types of toilet flappers include rubber, seat disk, and tank ball flappers. Rubber is the most popular of the three because it is easiest to attach to the overflow pipe and are highly effective. That said, disk flappers are a great option for toilets with large tanks.
Of the three types of toilet flappers, rubber is the most common. Each type of toilet flapper has its own unique advantages. Let’s get into the different type of toilet flappers and what makes them unique.
What is a Tank Ball Flapper?
A tank ball toilet flapper consists of a rubber ball and chain. It sits on top of the overflow pipe, and the rubber ball is lifted off of the pipe when you flush the toilet.
As the ball is pulled up off of the overflow pipe by the chain, the water begins to rush and flow. Tank ball flappers are quite common and effective; however, they can run into problems. For instance, the chain itself can disconnect from the ball at random at times and need to be reattached.
It is an easy fix, but one that may be necessary often depending on the tank ball flapper. The other issue is chain length. If the chain falls short or is too long, it will not be able to lift the ball when you flush.
If that is the case, you will need to replace it with a tank ball flapper with the proper length chain. The other bad scenario that can happen is that the chain lifts the ball but is unable to set it back down.
In that case, the water may continue running nonstop.
What is a Seat Disk Flapper?
Instead of a ball sitting atop the overflow pipe, a seat disk flapper has a circular disc covering it. If you have an old home with old toilets, chances are they have seat disk flappers in them.
The circular disk covers the overflow pipe thus preventing water from passing through. When you flush the toilet, the seat disk and plastic tube attached to it flip uncovering the overflow pipe. That causes the water to flow.
As you flush, a small reserve of water holds the flapper open for a limited time. There are more options with seat disk flappers compared to alternatives. You can find both snap on and threaded seat disk flappers.
The main drawback that seat disk flappers have is that the cap itself is not too durable. It can break easily, but they are inexpensive to replace. The other issue is in the function itself.
Sometimes, the water that is supposed to be holding the flapper open can wind up draining. That causes the flapper to close leading to an incomplete flush.
It is slightly harder to maintain or replace seat disk flappers, mostly because of the size. Seat disk flappers take up a lot of room in the tank, so working around them can be tricky.
What is a Rubber Flapper?
A rubber flapper is simply a cap that can be easily attached to the overflow pipe. They are the most common toilet flappers in modern homes with modern toilets because of how simple and effective they are.
Similar to tank ball flappers, rubber flappers have a chain attached to them that lift the cap. When you flush, the chain lifts the cap to allow flow, and sets it back down to stop the flow.
The rubber material is perfect for creating a solid suction thus preventing leaking or overflow. Despite the name, they are not always made out of rubber. In fact, some “rubber” flappers are made of plastic with only the sealing edges made out of rubber.
Just like the tank ball flapper, rubber flappers run into trouble if the chain becomes detached. Same goes for chain length. If the chain is not the right length for your toilet, the rubber cap may not be able to lift, or even worse, can’t set back down.
Even still, rubber flappers are the choice for modern toilets because of how strong of a seal the cap creates.
Which Toilet Flapper Type is Best?
That is ultimately dependent on your toilet, and personal preference. With that said, if your toilet can fit a rubber flapper with the proper chain length, that is a great bet.
Rubber flappers as well as tank flappers are easy to fix if the problem is that the chain comes detached. If that is the case, all that you need to do is lift the tank cover and reattach.
Seat disk flappers are a good option as well. In general, however, seat disk flappers handle best in toilets that have large tanks. That is because there is more hardware involved due to the plastic tube that takes up a lot of space.
If it is a matter of replacing an old defective toilet flapper, look into your options. Depending on the toilet, you may want to go with a rubber flapper because of the tight seal it creates. That is especially true if you have a modern toilet.
However, some people have trouble finding the right chain length for rubber and tank ball flappers, especially if they have older toilets. If you are unsure, you could always enlist the help of an expert or plumber.
How to Change Toilet Flappers
If you are handy and don’t want the help of a plumber, you can change toilet flappers with a few simple steps. Before you do anything, be sure to shut off the water to the toilet, then you can begin.
- Empty the water out of the tank by flushing
- Remove the old flapper. If it is a rubber or tank ball flapper, you’ll need to detach the ball/rubber cap as well as the chain. For seat disk, you will need to remove the plastic tube as well
- Attach the new flapper to the overflow pipe. Be sure to get a proper and even seal, or else you risk water running or leaking.
- Secure the flapper. If it is a rubber or tank ball flapper, make sure that the chain is the proper length. If it is not, adjust the chain to where it can lift the ball/cap and set it back in place properly.
The steps are simple and replacing a toilet flapper does not take long at all. When in doubt, it is always a good idea to bring in a plumber to get it done professionally.
What Did We Learn?
There is not too much of a difference between toilet flapper types. More than anything, the type of flapper your toilet has is determined by how old it is or when the flapper was installed.
If you want to change out the flapper in your toilet, you can do so easily. Whether you choose a tank ball, rubber, or seat disk flapper, it is only as effective as the application.
Be careful when changing out toilet flappers, and make sure the flapper type that you want is compatible with your tank.
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