If your toilet continuously or periodically runs, you may have a problem with the toilet flapper. This is the valve at the bottom of the tank on the back of the toilet that separates the water in the tank from the bowl. When the flapper is faulty, water will leak out of the tank and into the bowl. This will periodically trigger the float arm to release the water valve to refill the tank. Not only is this a nuisance, it can increase your water bill, making rectifying the problem important.
Step 1: Visually Inspect the Tank
Lift the lid off of the tank and flush the toilet. Visually inspect the inside of the tank to check for problems. Even if you've never fixed a toilet before, the problem may be obvious enough to locate. One common problem is when the chain that connects the handle to the flapper gets stuck under the flapper. To fix this, simply shorten and reattach the chain. You may either buy a shorter chain, cut the chain, or connect the handle to a different link in the chain so that there is less slack between the handle and flapper. The third option is not only easier, but less of a hassle.
Step 2: Remove the Old Flapper
If the problem is not with the chain, then you probably have an old flapper. These parts are not meant to last forever and should be replaced every few years as they get old and wear down. Turn off the water supply and once again flush the toilet. There will be two tabs on the pivot arm that connects the flapper. Simply pull the flapper free of the tabs. Removing most flappers is very straight forward and does not require any tools. If there is a circle around the metal overflow tube, use the scissors to cut it off.
Step 3: Buy the Right Replacement Flapper
Universal flappers do exist, but buying the flapper for your model makes the job much easier. Most well-stocked hardware stores have a variety of flapper models for sale. You may also choose to buy a replacement from an online retailer if the local hardware store does not carry the model you need. A lot of toilets have a diagram of the parts and corresponding part numbers on the inside of the tank lid.
Step 4: Compare Both Flappers
Make sure that both flappers are the same. If you need to, cut the circle off of the new flapper. If your toilet has a metal overflow tube, put the circle around it.
Step 5: Connect the New Flapper to the Pivot Arm
Installation instructions for the new flapper should be included on or within the flapper's packaging. Simply connect the new flapper to the pivot arm in the same way the old one was connected. Turn the water valve back on and flush the toilet to make sure that the new flapper is installed correctly.
You're all done. Make sure to keep up with maintenance of the toilet to prevent problems in the future.