Toilet flappers are among the salient components of a toilet setup that you need to know when embarking on any DIY toilet repair, especially with toilet tank problems.
The seal that uncovers the valve for water flow to aid flushing when the handle lever is jiggled is the toilet flapper. This plastic/rubber component also functions as a seal that prevents the flush valve from releasing water stored in the tank until it is needed.
This indicates that toilet flappers, otherwise known as toilet fill valves, when faulty, can cause leaks, flush failure, or stoppage of refill since they hold the water stored in the tank.
One of the common questions DIY-ers ask when replacing or fixing toilet tanks is, are there different types of toilet flappers? What are the types of toilet flappers, and how do I know what size flapper to buy?
To choose the right toilet flapper, you should understand that many of the toilet flappers available broadly fall under the category of either seat disk, tank ball, or Rubber flapper with floater/control dial. There is also classification based on size and adjustments.
However, does this mean that there are different toilet fill valves or just general groupings based on modifications?
Let’s find out.
Are there different types of toilet flappers?
With the understanding of what a toilet flapper is and how it works, you can see how crucial it is to have the correct toilet flapper installed – to prevent wastage of water and money.
Suppose you go shopping. In that case, you will indeed find an array of different types of toilet flappers. This clarifies the question, “are there different types of toilet flappers.”
Of course, there are various toilet flappers to suit better the specific type of toilet tank modification and mechanism.
As mentioned earlier, the different types of toilet fill valves are classified based on shape, adjustability, and mechanism. But they all serve the same function of being a seal.
The most important thing is to know how to identify the type of toilet flapper in your toilet tank, and then purchase the right one so that your toilet will be able to flush properly and use the right amount of water that it’s been designed to use for each flush.
It is straightforward to identify the type of toilet flapper you have. This can be done by just removing the toilet tank cover and observing it
What are the types of Toilet Flappers?
The three main types of toilet flappers have been cited earlier: seat disks, tank balls, and rubber. Let’s look at each of them and how you can identify them in your toilet tank.
Seat Disk Flappers
The image below is an example of a seat disk flapper, and most old toilets have this kind of flapper in their tank. The round plastic disk prevents water from running through the overflow pipe by covering it.
In other words, when you press the flush lever, this disk flapper exposes the overflow pipe and uncovers the reservoir to release water.
There is a reason why you hardly find this kind of flappers in newer toilet models. They are the oldest kind of toilet fill valves and have their disadvantages, such as being too large and occupying more space in the toilet tank.
Apart from that, seat disk flappers are not easy to find for replacement, plus it can be challenging to choose a perfect replacement. They can be purchased from companies like American Standard, anyways.
Tank Ball flapper
For toilets with tank ball flapper, you will see a large ball in the toilet tank that gets filled with water when you initiate flushing.
The tank ball flapper is positioned above the overflow pipe such that when you jiggle the flush lever, the rubber bowl is lifted by a chain or rod, allowing water to pass through the overflow pipe.
When replacing or fixing tank ball flappers, you want to make sure you take note of the correct length of the chain attached to the ball.
This type of flapper is the most used one in newer toilet models as its mechanism is not so different from that of tank ball flappers.
However, in this case, a simple cap is attached to the overflow pipe with a chain such that when you flush, the chain is pulled to lift the flapper and allow water, and then drops the cap to its initial place once flushing is completed.
Take note that there are some rubber flappers aren’t made of ‘rubber,’ so don’t go entirely by just the name.
Speaking of which, some rubber flappers have a floater attached to the chain to make it adjustable to determine the amount of water that can go through the drain before the cap closes. This variety of flappers is called rubber flappers with floaters.
Also, you might have seen some rubber flapper variety that has an adjustable flush length with the use of a dial. You can control the flushing process to use more water by turning the dial one way and vice visa.
Are flappers universal?
If you are about to purchase a replacement for toilet flappers, you have to take the size into cognizance. There used to be a universal-sized toilet flapper, but newer toilet flappers come in different sizes ranging between 2 to 4 inches.
One of the ways you can tell the actual size of the toilet flapper you are about to replace is by checking the date of manufacture.
This is because many recently manufactured toilets are likely within the scope range of 3 or 4 inches flappers.
You can also check the Gallon Per Flush (GPF) amount of the toilet tank. Since the GPF tells how much water goes in and out of the tank during the flushing process, you can use that to know the size of flapper you’d need to buy.
For example, toilets with 3 inches toilet flapper valves usually have 1.6 and 1.28 GPF.
How do I know what size flapper to buy?
The only way you can know the exact type and size of flapper to buy for your toilet tank is when you check the old flapper. It’s easy to determine the features and specs with what we have discussed so far.
Alternatively, you can remove your old flapper and take it along as you go shopping. We also recommend that you don’t ignore the materials that the new flappers you intend to buy are made of.
It is ideal to focus on those that feature waterproof materials that won’t rust, e.g., rubber/plastic, and ones that can stand prolonged mildew.
Arthur C. Jackson is the resident handyman and toilet expert for BestToiletGuides.com. Drawing from his experience, he tends to focus on how he can help the consumer.