3 Different Types Of Toilet Flappers | With Photos And Pros/Cons

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What is a Toilet Flapper?

A toilet flapper is an important part of the toilet and is located inside the tank. Its role is to allow the water to flow from the tank to the bowl and to provide a seal to keep the water from continuously flowing or leaking.

All toilet flappers have the same function but they come in various sizes. Knowing their difference from each other is important and what you need for your toilet would depend on the valve and not the tank.

There are a number of reasons you would need to replace the toilet flapper. It will eventually break down, around 5 to 10 years, since it’s made out of rubber.

Learn how a toilet flapper works in this video from Korky Toilet Repair on YouTube:

When Is It Time to Replace Your Toilet Flapper?

There are some indicators that tell you that you already need to replace the flapper in your toilet.

When your water is constantly flowing or leaking from the tank into the bowl, it means the flapper is no longer doing its job. One way to test this is to put just a few drops of food coloring into the water in the tank but don’t flush. Wait around 30 minutes and check the toilet bowl if the colored water has leaked. If it has, it’s time to replace the flapper.

You can also check if your flapper is already warped or already starting to flake. The flaking happens because the rubber material is already breaking down due to it sitting in the water over the years.

A few other reasons would be getting the wrong size, it isn’t compatible with the valve or it’s not positioned correctly.

So how do you replace the flapper? Here’s a tutorial video from Roto-Rooter:

Types of Toilet Flappers

Knowing the different types of toilet flappers is pertinent especially when you’re about to replace the one in your own toilet or you have a new one to install. Having an idea of their components and how they work can help you gauge and weigh your options, and know which one is right for your toilet. Here is some helpful information regarding the main types of toilet flapper that you might find useful.

If your toilet flapper looks like this, remove it and replace it immediately
If your toilet flapper looks like this, remove it and replace it immediately | Photo Credit: thetejon

Seat Disk Flapper 

This type is the oldest toilet flapper variety. This sort of flapper has a small circular disk that acts as a cover of the overflow pipe and keeps the water from flowing through it. There’s a plastic tube below this and this tube is attached by a hinge to the overflow tube. The entire system flips and the overflow pipe is exposed when the toilet is flushed. A reservoir or container filled with water holds the flapper open and acts as a weight when the toilet is flushed. The seat disk toilet flapper can also be sorted as threaded or snap-on.

There are also some disadvantages to this flapper type. This kind is somewhat large in size and can consume a lot of space in your tank. Fixing or repair can be challenging because of this and would give you limited options or choices when you’re doing a rework in your toilet. Also, the water in the reservoir can get drained while it’s holding the flapper open thus, would cause the flapper to close in just a particular length of time. One last downside of this type of flapper is that the cap can easily get damaged.

LASCO 04-1607 Red Chemical Resistant Combo Seat/Disc Fits Both Snap and Screw On Toilet Flapper for American Standard Actuators
LascoCombo Seat/Disc Flapper (Image: Amazon.com)

Tank Ball Flapper 

As its name suggests, the tank ball toilet flappers are exactly what they are. This type is a rubber ball and it rests or is positioned on top of the overflow pipe. Attached to the rubber ball is a chain that is pulled by a mechanism to lift the rubber ball up and off the overflow pipe when the toilet is flushed, and this lets the water pass through.  

This type of toilet flapper is okay to use but can be susceptible to various problems. If you have the tank ball type in your toilet and would need to replace it, make sure that you get the correct length of the chain that’s holding it. If you are unable to get the perfect length, either of the two things can happen: the chain will not be able to get the ball back to its place or it won’t be able to lift the ball. If the ball doesn’t get back to its place when the toilet is flushed, the water in the tank will get drained because the toilet is not properly sealed.

Korky 100BP Ultra High Performance Flapper Fits Most Toilets - Long Lasting Rubber - Easy to Install - Made in USA Small Red
Korky Universal Flapper. (Image: Amazon.com)

Rubber Flapper

Rubber is the most common type among the toilet flappers in modern toilets or those that are recently made. They are most common because not only are they simple but also reliable. They have fewer moving parts and have fewer chances of failing.

The rubber toilet flapper is a simple cap that is directly attached to the overflow pipe. There is a chain that is attached to the flapper and a mechanism pulls this chain to lift the rubber flapper up when the toilet is flushed. This chain lets the cap get back into its place once the flushing is complete.

Despite its name, some rubber flappers are actually made of plastic material and only the outer edge is made of rubber for it to tightly seal against the overflow pipe.

It has the same downside as that of the tank ball. The chain needs to be the correct length if the flapper needs to be replaced for it to work properly.

Toto Power Gravity Toilet Flapper Replacement Part, 3 Inch, Replaces Model THU140S
Toto Power Gravity Toilet Flapper Replacement. (Image: Amazon.com)

Just like any frequently used item or appliance, toilet flappers are subject to wear and tear. Thank goodness that they can be replaced without having to risk the valves. We only need to remember to know the right size and the right type of toilet flapper that is compatible with the valve so we could avoid having to buy another one and go through the process of repair and replacement again.