Types of Toilet Flappers: Pointing Out the Ultimate Best

A toilet flapper can give you a tough time once it starts malfunctioning. Talk about water leaking inside the bowl while you are trying to have a tranquil release moment. To make the matters worse, the more frequent the drippings, the bigger your water bill becomes.

Here’s something we can all agree on…you don’t want to deal with unnecessarily big bills and the disturbing water leaks.

So what’s the solution? If your toilet flapper is ill-fitted, you will need to call in a plumber to redo the work this time properly. However, if the flapper is damaged, it is high time you look for a toilet repair kit-ASAP.

Thankfully, there are many types of toilet flappers that you can fit on your Johnny. The caveat is, you can’t just pick any as it has to affix properly. The best decision is to carry your existing flapper with you to the plumber’s store so they can give you an exact match.

Diagnosing Flapper Problems

So how exactly do you know if your flapper is damaged? It’s simple. Drop food coloring or a dye tablet into the toilet tank and wait for a uniform color change. After a few minutes, take a look at your bowl. If the water in there is colored as well, you have a flapper problem.

Secondly, since most are attached to the flush lever, you can tell there is a problem if a toilet flushes improperly. Funny flushing noises are also reminder bells that you should be looking for a new flapper.

Now, let’s go over some of the existing toilet flappers you might go for.

Toilet flapper models

Here are the common types of toilet flappers:

Seat disk flapper

This is an older design in the shape of a rounded disk. It snugly fits onto the overflow pipe until the flushing lever is acted upon for it to release water. Once the toilet is flushed, the weight of the water will help to keep the flapper open until the tank is empty for it to seal back.

The flapper itself is fairly big and the entire system has several moving parts. When there are many moving parts, the chances of breaking down stand high as well. Despite dating a couple of decades back, companies like American Standard still sell seat disk flappers.


  • They are pretty large and take up a lot of tank space
  • Being archaic models, it’s not easy to get replacements

Let’s move on to the next one.

Tank Ball

For this design, a large rubber bowl seal goes over the overflow pipe with a sturdy metallic rod connecting it to the flushing lever. This design comes with numerous advantages. First, they don’t require a chain. Secondly, the ball is sturdier than most flappers. Lastly, they come in many sizes to fit many toilet types.


  • Works with specific toilet models

Rubber Flapper

You can spot this model in almost all the latest toilet models. It’s simply a cap that attaches to the overflow pipe with a chain holding it to the flushing lever. The rubber flapper’s simplistic design and less moving parts are the reasons they don’t fail often.


  • The imperfect chain length can easily result in a malfunction

Finding the Right Toilet Flapper

Here are a few things to consider when hunting for a toilet flapper:

  • Size

A flapper seal has to fit the valve accurately. If it’s a tad bigger or smaller, your toilet will leak water. Even if a flapper is labeled as universal, that doesn’t mean it will fit your toilet. You must find out if your toilet’s valve is 2, 3, or 4 inches. Once you know this, it becomes easier to make the right fitting choice.

Note that toilets designed before 1994 mostly have 2-inch valves while those designed after spot either a 3 or 4-inch type.

  • Toilets GPF

Gallons per flush is an important metric to consider. You see, low-flow toilets need up to 1.3 gallons to flush while full-flow models can go up to 1.6. Typically, a 3-inch flapper should work perfectly with toilets flushing between 1.3 and 1.6 gallons.

However, toilets with a flush rate of under 1.3 GPF or above 1.6 GPF will require either a smaller 2-inch or 4-inch flapper. Read more on 1.28 vs. 1.6 GPF to learn more about water-saving toilets.

  • Quality

There are two areas to focus on when it comes to quality: the body and flush lever attachment. Basically, the flapper should be made from sturdy materials that resist rust and harsh chemicals. The good news is, many models sport antifungal and antimicrobial compounds for a long service time. The chain too should be sturdy and feature stainless steel coating.

How long does a toilet flapper last?

A toilet flapper has a lifespan of about 4 to 5 years before it needs to be replaced. This timeline can be cut down significantly if there is plenty of molds, bacteria, and mildew growth in your toilet tank. The use of harsh chemicals or corrosive water can also shorten the lifespan of a flapper seal.

Usually, the original seal lasts a bit longer because they are well made. Replacements could have a shorter time frame as most of them are of substandard quality.

What if my toilet uses a unique model?

It’s possible your toilet uses a unique flapper system. If this is the case, then you might need to bring it along on your trip to the store. When you show it to the storekeeper, they may be able to recommend another apt choice.

Installing a toilet flapper

Anyone can easily install a toilet flapper. It’s so simple that you can do it in under a minute. Here are the steps you can follow:

  • Shut off the water delivery system
  • Flush the toilet tank until the flapper is visible
  • Detach the old flapper by disconnecting the brackets (and the chain for those with such designs). You don’t need tools for this; simply grab and unhook.
  • Now latch in the new flapper by securing the brackets back to the handles and the chain to the lever (that’s if it has a chain).
  • Ensure the leer link is nicely put. Too long or too short will result in a malfunction
  • Lastly, turn on the water system and let the tank refill before flushing. Do this two or three times to be sure the flapper is working okay.

Wrap Up

You now understand the types of toilet flappers and how to install one. Excellent.

When in doubt about which flapper to buy, just carry the old model with you to the store so they can match it with a new one. For those with the best toilets, there are many universal flappers that you can go for. Lastly, try to clean the toilet tank often and use chemical-free water for flushing. These practices ensure the flapper lives as long as it should.

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