Eric Stewart: Running Off At The Mouth

Home Repair

by Eric Stewart on Dec.02, 2008, under Home Stuff, Life

Okay … as you may or may not know, I am currently residing in a home that will eventually be mine (once the bank is given sufficient funds to convince them that they need make no claim on the domicile). So I’ve taken to doing a few things around the residence to make things work better than they did when we first showed up.

Oh yeah, quick note to my sister, who is no longer on MySpace: Thanks for doing the electrical work. 🙂

Anyway, the first thing I did was swap out some bathroom faucets. The originals were “pull on, twist for temperature” kinds of things that looked like they were original fixtures. There are obvious things when you do repairs like this, like “Make sure you turn the source water off first before unscrewing stuff.” I’m not quite that dumb. However, you should also read the box of the new fixtures … they will often tell you you need a thing or two to ensure proper functioning … like new source to faucet hoses. Thing is, it almost was easier not to buy these until I had the faucets in – I could get a better idea for the length of hose I would need, and didn’t end up buying something too short or way too long.

But over Thanksgiving I performed a quick and easy repair on my toilet … one that my “home improvement” book I got for my birthday didn’t cover.

The toilets would require that you hold down the handle for it to function properly.

The item that the handle pulls up to allow the tank to drain into the bowl (and thereby triggering a full flush) is called a “flapper”. For the purposes of this diatribe, we’ll assume a “universal” flapper would work for your purposes.

So you can get an idea as to what I’m talking about, there’s a link coming up. This link is strictly for the purposes of illustrating what a flapper is and what it looks like when it’s not installed. I make no claim on the quality of the flappers on this site, nor do I suggest you buy one from these folks. In my opinion, a flapper is a flapper. Go to your HomeLowesDepot store and look in the plumbing section.

It would seem that basic flapper design is such that, when you pull the handle to flush, the flapper is pulled up, and is set so that it attempts to float. When the water drains from the tank, the flapper flaps back down and seals the connection between the tank and the bowl. The flappers in my toilet did not float – they simply flapped back down.

One reason this might happen is that the flapper should have some sort of “reservoir” for air to reside to encourage floating. While I theorized that this was the case, it turns out the flappers in my toilets, simply put, were not installed properly.

You’ll notice from the link above that a fair number of flappers have holes for hooks (creating a hinge kind of effect) as well as a ring that would fit around an overflow tube.

Here’s the key piece of information: you only need one or the other.

The instructions for my new flappers cleared things up right away: if you have to hooks/posts on the overflow tube for the flapper, you cut off the ring that goes around the overflow tube. If you don’t have those hooks, you just slide the ring over the overflow tube and push it all the way down so that your flapper is in position over the tank/bowl connection.

If you leave the ring in and use the hooks as well, the resulting angle will force the flapper to cover the connection (over powering the air bubble in the reservoir, requiring you to hold the handle down to trigger an actual flush.

Now I just have to break myself of the habit of holding the handles down on my toilets.


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