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DIY Plumbing: A Step-by-Step Guide to Changing Your Toilet Tank Flapper

A universal red toilet tank flapper
Toilet tank flapper

The toilet is a crucial component of any household, and when it starts to show signs of wear and tear, it's essential to address the issues promptly. One common problem that many homeowners encounter is a faulty toilet tank flapper. Fortunately, changing the flapper is a relatively simple and cost-effective DIY task that can save you money on plumbing services. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of changing your toilet tank flapper.

Materials Needed:

Before you begin, gather the necessary materials and tools:

  1. Adjustable wrench (Only needed if your shut off valve is difficult to turn)

  2. New toilet tank flapper (Read entire article before purchasing)

  3. Pliers (To work with chain)

  4. Sponge

  5. Cleaning supplies (optional)

Step 1: Turn off the Water Supply:

Locate the shut-off valve on the wall behind the toilet and turn it clockwise to shut off the water supply to the toilet. Flush the toilet to drain as much water as possible from the tank. NOTE: Some older shut-off valves may not shut off completely and may need to be replaced before proceeding. If this is the case, please check our BLOG on replacing your old valve with a SharkBite fitting. We have details on how to do this under “Remodeling Projects.”

Once your water is shut off you can proceed.

Step 2: Remove the Tank Lid:

Carefully lift the tank lid and set it aside in a safe place. Be cautious, as tank lids are often heavy and can break if mishandled.

Step 3: Empty the Tank:

To minimize the mess, you can use a sponge or towel to soak up any remaining water in the tank. This will make the process of replacing the flapper cleaner and more efficient.


Step 4: Identify and Remove the Old Flapper:

Take a close look at the existing flapper and its attachment to the flush valve and to the chain from the handle. Note how it is connected so you can replicate the process with the new flapper.

Disconnect the flapper from the flush valve chain and any other attachments. In some cases, you may need to unscrew or unclip the flapper from the overflow tube.  You can view the video below to help you identify the style of your flapper.

You can also remove the old flapper and take it with you to your local hardware store. If you don’t need to use this particular toilet soon you can identify the flapper you need and order HERE from Amazon. Please double check all details when ordering to make sure the new one will match up exactly.

Step 5: Cleaning and Installing the New Flapper:

Before installing the new flapper check to make sure the surface around the circumference of the opening where the flapper will sit and make sure there is no build up or debris which needs to be cleaned off to make a good seal.

Then attach the new flapper to the flush valve chain using the same method as the old one was attached. Ensure that it forms a tight seal over the flush valve opening. If the flapper has adjustable settings, follow the manufacturer's instructions to set it up correctly.

Step 6: Check for Proper Seal:

Turn the water supply back on and let the tank fill. Observe the new flapper to ensure it forms a proper seal when the tank is full. Adjust the chain length if necessary to achieve the right tension.

Step 7: Test the Flush:

Flush the toilet to ensure that the new flapper works correctly. Listen for any unusual sounds or leaks. If the flush is smooth and the tank refills without issues, you've successfully replaced the flapper.

Step 8: Check the Water Level:

Before replacing the tank lid check to make sure your water level is adjusted to the appropriate level, usually the water level should be about one inch below the top of the overflow (or refill) tube. Below are several videos showing different types of fill valves for toilet tanks and how to adjust them properly. The water going into the overflow tube fills the toilet bowl and the water supplied to the tank from the bottom of the supply valve fills the tank to the level that you can adjust. Below are two instructional videos on adjusting several common types of valves.


Changing a toilet tank flapper is a manageable DIY task that can save you money and prevent water waste. By following these simple steps, you can maintain your toilet's functionality and keep your plumbing in good shape. Remember to turn off the water supply before starting and take your time to ensure a proper installation. If you encounter any difficulties or if the problem persists, it may be wise to consult a professional plumber for further assistance.

Here is a nice tutorial which might help with your confidence level if you choose to change the flapper yourself.

Please don't forget to leave us any comments or questions in the comment section below!

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