That hissing noise coming from your toilet every few minutes may be the telltale sound of a bad toilet flapper. It’s also the sound of your money going, well, down the toilet. A leaky toilet wastes an average of a gallon of water per day, which translates into as much as 30 gallons a month. That quickly adds up on your water bill.
You can fix that leaky toilet by replacing the flapper. The flapper is the rubber piece that covers the drain at the bottom of the toilet’s tank, keeping the water in the tank until the toilet is flushed. When the flapper fails, water leaks from the tank into the bowl, forcing the refill valve to fill the tank continually.
Read on to learn the most important factors when choosing the best toilet flapper for your leaky toilet and get a head-start on repairs with this guide’s recommendations.
- BEST OVERALL 2-INCH: Fluidmaster 502P21 2-Inch PerforMAX Toilet Flapper
- BEST OVERALL 3-INCH: Fluidmaster 5403 3-Inch Toilet Flapper
- WATER-SAVING 2-INCH: Korky 100BP Ultra High Performance Flapper
- BEST 2-INCH WITH FLOAT: Lavelle Ind. Inc. Toilet Flapper 2004BP
- BEST 3-INCH WITH FLOAT: KOHLER GP1105825 Flapper with Float Kit
- BEST 2-INCH KIT: Fluidmaster 400AKR All In One Toilet Tank Repair Kit
- BEST 3-INCH KIT: Korky 5030BP Universal Toilet Kit
Types of Toilet Flappers
When shopping for a toilet flapper, it’s helpful to narrow down the selection by type. There are three types of toilet flappers to consider when searching for a replacement for your toilet.
Rubber is the most common type of toilet flapper and the one you’ll most often see in toilet repair kits. It consists of a rubber cap that attaches to the base of the overflow pipe through a hinge. A chain connects the rubber cap to the toilet handle. When the toilet is idle, the flapper stays in place over the flush valve, holding the water in the tank.
When you press the handle, the chain lifts, pulling the flapper open. This allows the water to escape and flush the toilet bowl. After the tank is empty, the flapper drops back into place, allowing the tank to fill with water.
A seat disk flapper uses a small round rubber or plastic disk that covers the toilet tank drain, allowing the toilet to fill up. A plastic tube that holds the disk attaches to the overflow tube via a hinge. When the toilet is flushed, the rubber disk pulls away from the drain, allowing the tank to drain.
The small tube acts as a counterweight, holding the flapper open until the tank has emptied. Once drained, the flapper flips back into place, allowing the tank to fill. The water in the tube acts as a counterweight. If it drains too quickly, it will close the drain opening before the tank has fully emptied. This could result in a weaker flush.
Tank ball flappers consist of a rubber ball that plugs the drain hole, preventing water from escaping the tank through the drain. The term ball is kind of a misnomer here, as most tank ball flappers are more plug-shaped.
A chain or metal rod connects the tank ball to the toilet lever. When the toilet is flushed, the lever pulls the plug out of the flush valve, allowing the water to drain from the tank.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Toilet Flapper
Before purchasing a flapper to fix your toilet, there are certain factors you may want to consider. Flappers come in different sizes to suit various-sized flush valves. Some use materials that improve their durability, and some offer features that allow you to optimize your toilet’s water usage.
A toilet flapper allows your toilet to flush. Most of the time, the flapper sits idly in place over the toilet tank’s drain valve, preventing water from escaping while keeping the tank full. When it’s time for action, the flapper opens, and the water in the tank escapes through the valve, causing the toilet to flush. Once the tank has drained, the flapper drops back into place over the valve, allowing it to refill.
Flappers are made of a combination of plastic and rubber. The plastic provides rigidity that allows the flapper to connect to the overflow tube. The rubber allows the flapper to create a tight seal over the flush valve that prevents water from escaping the tank.
Although flappers consist of high-quality rubber and plastic, they will deteriorate over time. Manufacturers seek to extend the life of a flapper by using materials that resist bacteria growth, chlorine, hard water, and other elements that can degrade the rubber.
A typical flapper lasts between 3 and 5 years. When a flapper begins to fail, it loses its ability to create a water-tight seal with the flush valve, resulting in a leak. You can typically tell there is a leak in your toilet from the telltale sound of dripping water. A leaky flapper also causes the toilet to frequently refill as it tries to keep the tank full.
Flappers come in two different sizes: 2-inch and 3-inch. The majority of toilets use 2-inch flappers. However, there are some that use 3-inch flappers, including many high-efficiency toilets. The larger flush valve produces a more powerful flush with less water.
To determine what size you need, look at the flush valve drain opening at the bottom of your tank. A 2-inch opening will be about the size of a baseball. A larger 3-inch opening will be about the size of a grapefruit. You also can use a tape measure to check the diameter of the opening at the bottom of your tank.
How quickly a flapper closes has a significant impact on the operation and efficiency of your toilet. If a flapper closes before the tank fully empties, it will negatively impact the power of a flush. This could result in clogs or the need for additional flushes. If a flapper takes too long to close, it will cause fresh water entering the tank to run out the drain, resulting in wasted water and a higher water bill.
Some flappers have adjustment dials. These dials allow you to adjust how much air escapes from the flapper’s cone. This affects how long the valve floats before flapping shut. By adjusting the dial, you can control the flush volume, making the toilet more efficient or increasing its flushing power.
Some flappers have floats that attach to the chain. Pulling the float up the chain increases the flush volume, creating a more powerful flush.
Fill Valve Repair
In addition to the flapper and the overflow valve, the other major component inside your toilet’s tank is the fill valve. True to its name, the fill valve is responsible for refilling the tank after it has drained through the flush valve.
If you’re replacing a flapper, it may make sense to replace all the components in your toilet tank. It is more economical to buy a repair kit that includes both the fill valve and flapper. Plus, if you’re replacing an old flapper that is failing, it’s a good bet that the fill valve also is near the end of its life. Knocking out both repairs together can save time while minimizing the duration that your toilet is out of service.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know more about the features of toilet flappers, you may be ready to start shopping. Below are some of the most durable and high-performance toilet flappers and repair kits on the market.
Toilet flappers live a pretty harsh life; they spend most of their time submerged under water, exposed to bacteria, chlorine, and corrosive minerals like calcium and magnesium. This is what makes Fluidmaster’s flapper such a great product.
This flapper uses Microban, which resists the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew, giving it a longer life than other flappers. It features a rigid plastic frame, which prevents the flapper from losing its shape, allowing it to maintain a tight seal over the flush valve.
The Fluidmaster flapper also allows you to save water thanks to an adjustable dial that lets you set how much water is released from the tank with each flush. This flapper works with 2-inch valves on toilets ranging from 1.28 to 3.5 gallons per flush.
Most flappers succumb to water damage in about 3 to 5 years. Through regular use, the seal slowly degrades and fails, eventually causing the flapper to leak. Fluidmaster’s flapper will last up to 10 years thanks to a corrosion-resistant silicone seal that outlasts standard rubber flappers.
It’s also well-constructed: A molded rigid plastic frame prevents the flapper from bending or twisting, and a kink-free chain prevents the flapper from getting stuck in the open position. An adjustment dial allows you to control the flush volume, making this flapper efficient and enabling you to optimize it for water savings.
This 3-inch flapper works with most high-efficiency and 1.6-gallons-per-flush toilets.
This flapper from Korky features an easy-to-use dial with multiple flow settings, allowing you to optimize each flush and save money on your water bill.
With its Korky red rubber, this flapper is one of the more durable flappers you can buy. The special blend of rubber uses chlorazone, which staves off bacteria while resisting damage from chlorine, hard water, and well water.
The flapper uses a universal-fit design, making it compatible with most toilets with 2-inch flush valves. A clamp-style clip prevents the chain from accidentally dislodging from the toilet handle.
Lavelle’s adjustable float on this flapper under its Korky brand makes adjusting flush volume easy. Simply move the float up the chain to save water or down the chain to improve flushing power. Like all of Korky’s flapper products, this model extends the life of the flapper with its special red rubber material that resists bacteria, chlorine, and hard water.
With its universal fit design, this flapper will fit most toilets, including American Standard, Kohler, and Glacier Bay. A stainless steel chain won’t rust and is kink resistant to prevent accidental leaks. A hook clamp keeps the chain securely attached to the toilet’s lever.
This ball flapper from Kohler allows you to adjust your toilet’s flush volume by merely moving the float on its chain. Slide the float up for more flushing power or down for more efficiency and a lower water bill. Its large 3-inch size allows for a more powerful flush while using only 1.28 gallons of water.
With its all-rubber construction, it creates a tight seal around the flush valve, preventing leaks into the bowl. A large clip keeps the chain securely attached to the lever, and snap-on clips make this flapper easy to install. This flapper and float kit will only work with 1.28 gallons-per-flush toilets.
If you’re looking to replace all the components in your toilet, or you’re setting up a new toilet, this kit from Fluidmaster has you covered. It includes a flush valve, flapper, fill valve, and a chrome tank lever. It also comes with the bolts and gasket required to connect the tank to the toilet.
With its universal design, this set fits most toilets with a fill valve that adjusts from 9 to 14 inches. A PerforMAX 2-inch flapper allows you to adjust the flush volume. It will fit both 2-bolt and 3-bolt connections and works best with 1.6- and 3.5-gallons-per-flush toilets.
This universal toilet repair kit from Korky has what you need to complete a full toilet overhaul. The kit contains parts for replacing the flapper, flush valve, and gasket in your toilet tank. It also comes with bolts and washers for connecting the tank to the bowl.
With Korky’s red rubber material that resists bacteria, chlorine, treated water, and hard water, the flapper is expected to last longer than other flapper designs. The flush valve features an easy-to-use adjuster that allows you to change the height from 7 inches up to 11.5 inches without the need to cut the material.
With its universal design, this toilet kit will fit most newer high-efficiency toilets with 3-inch flush valves, including American Standard, Aquasource, Crane, Eljer, and Glacier Bay.
FAQs About Toilet Flappers
If you still have unanswered questions about how flappers work, read on for answers to some of the most common concerns.
Q. Are all toilet flappers the same?
Toilet flappers are different in size, type, and quality. There are 2-inch and 3-inch flappers, which will fit only the corresponding-sized toilet valve. Manufacturers use different materials to prevent malfunctions and increase the life span of the flapper. There also are different types, including those that have flow adjusters built into the flapper or those that use floats to manage flush volume.
Q. How do I know if my toilet flapper is bad?
A bad toilet flapper no longer creates a tight seal around the flush valve, causing water to leak into the bowl when the toilet is not in use. The telltale sound of a leaky flapper is a dripping sound. You also may hear the hiss sound of your toilet refilling every few minutes or so, depending on the size of the leak. This is the sound of your toilet fill valve keeping the tank filled as the water leaks out.
Q. How do you replace a toilet flapper?
Use the following instructions to replace your toilet’s flapper.
- Begin by turning off the water by twisting the shutoff valve near the floor behind the toilet.
- Flush the toilet to remove all the water in the tank. The toilet should not begin refilling.
- Remove the flapper by popping off the mounting pegs on the overflow tube.
- Make sure you measure your old flapper so you can find the proper size for a replacement.
- Replace the flapper by snapping the new one onto the tube, then open the shutoff valve.
Q. How do you install a flapper fill valve?
- Begin by shutting off the water to the toilet and draining the tank, as described in the above instructions.
- Detach the fill valve by unscrewing the water supply line and locknut from the outside of the tank.
- Install the new valve by placing it in the tank and securing it with the supply line and locknut. Make sure to use the proper gaskets that are included with the new valve to ensure there are no leaks in the connection.
- Open the water supply line. Water should begin filling the tank from the new fill valve.
Q. How long do flappers last?
A toilet flapper will usually last 3 to 5 years on average. It is recommended to avoid chemical bowl cleaners because they can quickly wear out rubber flappers.