How to Remove a Hard Plastic Toilet Flapper With Ease

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Few things frustrate me as much as the sound of water randomly leaking out of the toilet tank. I bet you feel the same — it wastes water and generates that ominous sound 24/7.

But, thankfully, it’s easy to fix the problem.

If you’re wondering how to remove a hard plastic toilet flapper, you’re in the right place. I’m going to show you exactly how to do so in this post.

6 Steps to Remove A Hard Plastic Toilet Flapper

You can quickly learn how to replace a hard plastic toilet flapper by following these six steps:

Step 1: Turn Off the Water Supply

Turn the knob of the shut-off valve counterclockwise until it stops. As soon as you make a full circle, you will halt the water supply to the toilet.

If the toilet shutoff valve doesn’t work for any reason, the alternative is to turn off the main water supply — it’s usually in the basement, but sometimes you can find it under the kitchen sink. 

Step 2: Remove the Lid to Open the Tank

To approach the overflow tube, you first need to remove the lid of your toilet tank. You’ll see a thin horizontal line where the lid connects to the tank top — that’s where you need to pull. 

Take it by the edges and pull it up firmly. Sometimes it won’t budge easily, so if you need to you can use a screwdriver to remove the tank lid — however, be careful not to scratch the tank, as the screwdriver may leave some ugly marks. 

Step 3: Drain the Water Out of the Tank

The next step is to empty the tank. You will do this by pulling the flush lever and letting all the water go down the drain. This will remove water almost entirely, so there’ll be only some droplets left in the tank. 

Some homeowners like to remove every drop of water from the toilet tank before moving on, so they use a sponge or towels to remove whatever remains inside.

That way, every part of the tank — including the overflow tube and the flapper — will be dry and easy to access. 

Step 4: Detach the Chain

Now you need to detach the chain from the flush lever. Use a pair of pliers to grab the chain firmly. Use one tool to hold the lever while slowly straightening the link that connects the chain to the flush lever. 

Hold on to the flapper chain and pull it out of the overflow pipe. This is easy to do on one end, but do not try to detach the chain from the flapper itself.

Step 5: Remove the Flapper

There are three ways to remove a hard plastic flapper, and the solution depends on the type of loop.

  • Open loops come with a couple of safety arms that hold the flapper. You should remove them one by one to release it.
  • Closed loops make the process even simpler — you just need to take the overflow tube and place it horizontally. If you do this from the left side, you can unsnap the flapper from the right. And, of course, you can always switch if you are left-handed.

Stuck flappers are probably too old to remove smoothly. In this case, take a knife and cut the arms before taking the hard plastic flapper out. However, be careful not to damage the flush handle or any other element of the toilet tank.

Step 6: Install a New Flapper

If you want to replace the old flapper with a new one, you should do all the previous steps in reverse order. Be careful not to break any plastic elements inside the tank — they are firm, but sudden and strong moves could easily break something or damage the tank’s structure.

Place the new flapper inside the overflow pipe, and attach the chain to it — keeping in mind that both ends of the chain must be even. Then you can return the top of the toilet tank and open your water supply valve.

To make sure that the new toilet flapper is working, pour some dye or food coloring in the overflow tube and watch to see if the color appears inside the toilet bowl. If it does, the flapper is still malfunctioning and you need to adjust it. If not, your toilet flapper is working just fine.

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Remove a Hard Plastic Toilet Flapper?

When is the right time to remove a toilet flapper? Typically, you should do it every five to eight years, but it mostly depends on how well yours is working. 

If you take care of the toilet and regularly check its parts, the flapper might work for up to 10 years, or even more. This of course also requires regular cleaning and maintenance.

The signs that you ought to remove a flapper include the following:

  • Tank won’t fill no matter how long you leave it without flushing
  • Your toilet has a weak flush, suggesting there isn’t enough water in the tank
  • Water runs between toilet flushes, which means that your hard plastic toilet flapper is damaged or not working at all

Tools to Use to Replace a Flapper

You don’t need many tools to remove a hard plastic toilet flapper. All it takes is a set of basic items:

  • Rubber gloves to protect your hands
  • A small bucket to catch excess water
  • A few towels to dry the toilet tank and collect water under the toilet
  • Sponges to absorb the leftover water in the tank
  • Knives to cut any stuck flappers or safety arms
  • A new plastic flapper to replace the broken one

What Is a Toilet Flapper?

A hard plastic toilet flapper is a device used to stop the water from running on the inside of the toilet tank. It remains closed until someone pushes the flush valve. This triggers a chain pull that lifts the flapper and releases the water.

The flapper is linked to a chain that hangs on the overflow pipe, which forms a seal to prevent water from entering the toilet bowl unintentionally. In other words, a functional toilet flapper will keep the water in the tank as long as you don’t use the toilet and press the flush valve.

The flapper comes in several forms:

  • A rubber toilet flapper, like this Toto universal flapper, is the most popular type and is attached directly to the overflow pipe. Manufacturers use rubber because it’s durable, easy to use, and inexpensive.
  • A seat disk (plastic toilet flapper) is another popular choice. It is flexible enough to make a tight seal around the overflow pipe and durable enough to last several years if you take care of your toilet.
  • A tank ball is also a popular choice because it is durable and highly reliable. Manufacturers commonly use black rubber for the ball.

The Bottom Line

A malfunctioning flapper isn’t a big deal, but it can seriously interfere with your mood and your utility bills.

Don’t wait until your tank won’t fill or your toilet starts running between flushes. The sooner you replace a toilet flapper, the less damage it will cause and the cheaper it will be to fix everything.

All it takes is to remove the tank lid, unhook the flapper chain, remove the old plastic flapper, and install a new one.

Our tips will help you do it in just a few minutes, so keep reading our blogs for more DIY inspiration!


How do you replace a plastic flapper?

You should follow five simple steps: turn off the water supply, take off the tank lid, drain the water from the tank, remove the old flapper, and install a new flapper. To do this, you only need a pair of pliers to hold the flapper and remove the flapper chain. 

Our recommendation is to buy a new flapper, as it’s super durable.

Are there different types of toilet flappers?

Yes, there are three types: hard plastic, rubber, and tank balls. The choice depends on the model of your toilet.

How long does a plastic flapper last?

The usual lifespan is between five and eight years. However, how long it lasts depends on several factors: how well you maintain it and whether or not there are any leaks in your toilet system.

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