toilet flapper types

5 Popular Toilet Flapper Types Explained: Which One is Right for You?

The toilet flapper is a round-shaped rubber material that seals the water in the tank by positioning on the top of the tank lever which pulls by a chain for the water to pass through the bowl by force. 

It works when the flushed handle is pressed or pushed, the flapper which is attached to the chain pulls up, opening the seal and letting water flow through the overflow pipe to the bowl with pressure. 

There are different types of toilet flappers which are Seat disk flappers, tank ball flappers, and rubber flappers. Seat disk flappers come with a disk and are used in older toilets with larger tanks and it is suitable for 2-inches flush valve. Tank ball flappers come with a chain that is attached to the ball of the flapper and this is also one of the oldest models but with a bit of improvement in flushing. This one is also suitable for 2-inch flush valves. Rubber flappers are used in modern toilets which have a combination of tank ball flappers but with better flushing and improvements. Rubber flappers also come with an additional feature of a control dial and floater, which can control the flow of water during flushing. Moreover, this flapper is compatible with both 2-inch and 3-inch flush valves.

The average lifespan of a flapper is around 4-5 years but it can last longer or less than that depending on the quality of the materials, the water condition of the household, and the uses of the toilet. 

At some point, the flapper malfunctions that is when the flapper is at its last stage or completely worn out. Also, it can happen due to improper installation of the flapper or minerals and bacteria occupying the edges of the flapper.

When the flapper is broken, it is necessary to replace it with a newer one. The flush will not work properly and the water will leak from the toilet in case of broken. 

The price of a flapper is around $5-$20 dollars depending on the model and features. 

What is a Toilet Flapper?

A toilet flapper is a component of a toilet tank that is attached to the tank lever with a chain that seals the water inside the tank. When flushed, the flapper lifts up letting go of all the water of the tank to the bowl by force. After flushing, it gets back to its designated position. 

what is toilet flapper

What are the different types of Toilet Flapper?

There are different types of toilet flappers that are available in the market but it depends on which type of toilet you are using because of its mechanisms. Here, I have mentioned some of the most common types of flappers which are Seat disk flappers, Tank ball flappers, Rubber flappers, Rubber flappers with a control dial, and Adjustable flappers with a floater. 

Seat Disk Flapper

Seat disk flappers are one of the earliest types of flappers which are used in older toilets. It is made of rubber and this type of flapper comes with a small circular disk that covers the hole of the overflow pipe. 

When the flush handle is pressed, the disk opens up, allowing water to pass from the overflow pipe to the bowl. The water reservoir holds the disk until the water drains out completely. When the water reservoir drains out completely, it cannot hold up the disk, and the disk covers the hole of the overflow pipe again. 

Pros:

  • It is made with high-quality rubber and is long-lasting. 
  • It is resistant to chlorine. 

Cons:

  • It consumes more space in the tank because of its shape.
  • Replacing can be challenging because of its mechanism. 

Tank Ball Flapper

The Tank ball flapper is one of the oldest types of flapper which can be seen in older toilets. This type of flapper is made of rubber that has a ball in it which is attached through a chain on top of the overflow pipe.

When flushed, the lever lifts up the ball through the chain and lets pass the water flowing from the overflow pipe to the bowl. After the lever is freed, the ball sits down on top of the overflow pipe and seals the water. 

The Tank ball flapper is primarily compatible with 2-inch flush valves.

Pros:

  • It is durable with good quality rubber.
  • It works well with older model toilets.

Cons:

  • The water will leak if the chain becomes loose. 
  • The chain can get stuck during operation and the valve will remain open for water to leak.

Rubber Flapper

The rubber flapper is one of the most popular flappers which is commonly used in most modern toilets. It has a chain attached to it like a tank ball flapper. It is not entirely made with rubber, the rubber is used on the edges of the flapper for a tight seal, and the rest of the things are made with plastic.

During flushing, the lever lifts up the flapper with the help of a chain that is attached to the flapper and lets the overflow pipe open. After flushing, the cap closes down the seal with the help of a chain. 

The rubber flapper is suitable for 2-inch and 3-inch flush valves. 

Pros:

  • The rubber flapper is very reliable and available.
  • The chain of the rubber flapper is adjusted in a way that completely closes down the seal. 

Cons:

  • The water will leak if the measurement of the chain is not accurate.
  • The chain can obstruct the flow of water if it gets stuck with something. 

Rubber flappers with a control dial

Like rubber flappers, this one comes with a control dialer. This is an additional feature of the rubber flappers and it helps to control the flow of water during flushing. There is a dialer on top of the flapper, rotating right will set it to maximum, and rotating all the way to left will set it to minimum. 

During flushing, the dial adjusts how much air should be passed on the secondary hole to force the valve to close. The water flows through the overflow pipe with the set adjustment and closes the overflow pipe. 

This kind of rubber flapper with a control dialer is adjustable with 2-inch and 3-inch flush valves.

Pros:

  • Improves flush performance. 
  • Reduces water consumption, saving water bills.
  • It is cheap and can easily be replaceable. 

Cons:

  • The chain of the flapper can get broken or stuck with other parts of the tank.
  • Sometimes the dialer doesn’t work and is not that durable.

Adjustable flappers with a floater

This is one of the features of a rubber flapper which comes with a floater. It has a long chain and the floater is attached to it. The floater controls the flow of water going from the tank to the bowl.

During flushing, the water flows through the overflow pipe with the set adjustment of a floater.  When the floater is set high on the chain, it takes less time to close the valve which leads to less water consumption. And when the floater is set low on the chain, it takes more time to close the valve which leads to more water consumption. 

Flappers with a floater can be suitable for 2-inch and 3-inch flush valves.

Pros:

  • It is very easy to install. 
  • Saves water bills by controlling the water according to the needs.

Cons:

  • The flapper falls from the center, creating slow leaking.
  • Sometimes the flush doesn’t complete with a proper adjustment. 
what are the different types of toilet flapper

How does a toilet flapper work?

A toilet flapper is a small part of the toilet that plays an important role in the toilet mechanism. When the toilet handle is pushed, the lever raises the flapper with the support of a chain. The flapper rises, allowing water to pass down to the toilet bowl. 

Once the tank is empty, the flapper drops down to its position and seals the opening of the overflow pipe. This allows the fill valve to fill the water in the tank and wait for the next flush.

What type of toilet flapper do you need?

The toilet flapper is a crucial component of your toilet. It is necessary to find out the appropriate flapper for your toilet or else, the water will leak from the tank to the bowl. In order to find out the exact flapper, you can take various methods that will help you to find the right flapper for your toilet

  • Find out the brand name and the model number which is located on the back side of your toilet or inside of your toilet tank. Also, you can check for the user’s manual which is given by the manufacturer. 
  • You can measure it by GPF(Gallon per flush) which indicates how much water inflows and outflows when flushed. Toilets before 1994 use a larger tank which is about 3.5 and 5-7 GPF. Usually, these large toilets come with a 2-inch flapper. Toilets after 1994-2006 use a smaller tank of 1.6 and 1.28 GPF which come with both 2-inch and 3-inch flappers. Toilets after 2006 are considered modern toilets and they have 1.28 or lower GPF and they come with 3-inch flappers.
  • Identify the measurement of your toilet flapper width from end to end. If it measures 3 inches, then you have a 2-inch flapper and if it measures 4 inches, then you have a 3-inch flapper.
  • You can measure the opening with the help of a baseball and a softball. The size of a baseball would be a 2-inch flapper and the size of a softball would be a 3-inch flapper.
  • Take help from the home improvement store workers or you can call for a plumber if you are still confused about what type of flapper you need. 

How Long Does a Toilet Flapper Last?

A toilet flapper is highly durable and made with high-quality rubber and plastic. On average, a toilet flapper lasts about 4 to 5 years, depending on the water condition of the area, the quality of the product, and frequent use of flush. 

It is better to replace it when you notice water leaking from the toilet because it will prevent water waste and damaging your toilet. Brands like Kohler, and Performax are making good quality toilet flappers.

Why Do Toilet Flappers Fail?

The toilet flappers are not a component that will give a life guarantee. It will eventually fail at a certain time due to possible factors such as the Life-span of the flapper, hard water coming out from the ground, use of harsh chemicals, inappropriate installation of the flapper, and the pressure of the water. 

Life-Span

A flapper is made of plastic and rubber, and over time, it may get worn out or break due to the material’s ability to hold up together. 

As a matter of fact, manufacturers claim that a flapper can only last about 4-5 years on average but it depends on the usage of the product. It can last about more than the mentioned age if it is well-maintained or, it can go sooner due to frequent use of it. 

Hard Water

The hard water coming from the ground contains minerals, bacteria, and other composites. So, these minerals, bacteria, and other composites can accumulate on the flapper causing the flapper to act improperly or it may not fit perfectly on the overflow pipe. 

Harsh chemicals

Harsh chemicals or tablets are not good for rubber and plastic. When dipping, the chemicals may react with the materials causing them to wear out within a period of time. 

There is a way to find out about this, pour some food color on the toilet tank and let it rest for a bit. You need to replace your flapper if the color of the tank matches the food color.

Inappropriate Installation

Installing a flapper inappropriately can make the flapper fail to operate which can lead to water leaking in the toilet. Also, it can create a disturbance if the chain of the flapper is too tightened or loosened, it may end up sticking with the lever or the flapper.

Water Pressure

The water pressure may cause the flapper to fail. Extreme pressure can strain the flapper and can lead to an early failure. 

It is rather uncommon but happens sometimes when the place has a high water pressure. 

why do toilet flappers fail

What happens when the flapper is broken?

The flapper is used to seal the water completely in the tank. It can cause a severe problem if the flapper is broken. The problems which may arise are:

  • The flush will not work properly which will make it inefficient to reduce the waste.
  • The minerals, bacteria, and other composites will likely grow in the toilet which will increase the chances of sediment to develop
  • The water will flow continuously which can increase the water bill of your household.

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