toilet flapper woes
June 20, 2009 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Hi everyone. i have a dumb problem i'm hoping you can help me with. it is about my toilet.

my toilet is kind of wonky. the tiny black hook on the flapper that connects the chain to the handle is broken, and sometimes it comes loose. i've lived here for awhile and i've figured out how hard to push down so that the chain does not come off, but every time i have someone over it is like writing a novel, trying to explain how not to break my toilet. so i thought i'd be smart and fix it myself. i was going to learn all about this from youtube! i was going to buy a new flapper! great, right?

maybe. the knob down by the floor, the one that i would need to use in order to turn off the water? that is missing. i am in an apartment, and i am perfectly willing to call my landlord and discuss this, but i thought i would ask the internet first.

picture of broken knob

there doesn't seem to be a part that turns. it is just a sheared-off piece of metal. am i SOL?

also i should add that i have access to my hot water tank, and there are all kinds of knobs and stuff near it it that i can turn just fine...but i am not sure if any of these are the main water shutoff for my apartment. help?
posted by janepanic to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
since you can't shut off the supply to the toilet, I would call the landlord... that really needs to be replaced anyway.... once that is done, repairing the flapper is fairly easy... follow the directions on the package (although, the landlord should repair that as well)
posted by HuronBob at 7:51 AM on June 20, 2009

Yep, that definitely looks like the shut off valve for the toilet, with the valve handle missing.
I would suggest trying to turn off the random knobs by your hot water tank. I'm assuming though that none of these goes into other apartments. Just feel the line to see which ones are cold water and which are hot water, and only bother with the the cold water ones.
Also,don't use your hot water while you have the main water supply turned off if you don't know for sure whether you've turned off the supply to the hot water tank or not.
posted by newpotato at 7:51 AM on June 20, 2009

the hot water tank i have is all mine; i know this because it is tiny and i empty it nearly every time i shower. and the knobs are blue and red..i guess i'll try turning the blue one and see if the sink still works?

thanks for the advice so far, guys.
posted by janepanic at 7:54 AM on June 20, 2009

You can buy replacement parts at a hardware store for less than ten bucks. This is the landlord's responsibility though. Since it is such an easy repair I would make noise if it isn't completed quickly.
posted by caddis at 7:54 AM on June 20, 2009

Grab a pair of pliers and turn the valve. The handle is simply missing. You can even buy a handle at the local hardware store for under $1.00.

However, if this is an apartment, they could get this repaired and done with in less than 10 minutes.
posted by Gravitus at 8:08 AM on June 20, 2009

For repairs inside the tank short of replacing the valve assembly, you usually don't have to shut off the water. Flush the toilet, and when the tank empties find some way to hold the valve lever up (I usually use a bit of hanger wire laid across the top of the tank, under the valve lever). This will prevent the tank from refilling while you work in there.
posted by jimfl at 8:11 AM on June 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

In case you're wondering what the valve lever is, that's the thing that's attached to the float.
posted by jimfl at 8:12 AM on June 20, 2009

i tried pliers. the valve does not turn. clockwise, yes?
posted by janepanic at 8:14 AM on June 20, 2009

You just need a new flap valve. They're made of soft rubber and cost like $3. You don't need to mess with any water shutoffs at all. Just roll up your sleeves, flush the toilet, and while the tank is emptying just reach down there, flap off the old valve, snap on the new one and and you're good. You can then reach into the water that's building back up again and hook the chain back up.

It should take about 1 minute. The flap valve is held onto that middle (drain) post by two soft loops in the rubber. No tools necessary.
posted by Aquaman at 8:19 AM on June 20, 2009

thank you jimfl and aquaman. the lever is held up by an old metal hanger, the broken piece is in my hand and i am going to the hardware store right this second. yay!
posted by janepanic at 8:21 AM on June 20, 2009

i tried pliers. the valve does not turn. clockwise, yes?
posted by janepanic at 11:14 AM on June 20 [+] [!]

Yes. Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.

But sometimes an inline valve that is infrequently opened and closed will get sticky due to deposition of solids, corrosion, etc. Sometimes it helps to "back" the valve a bit, before trying to close. So, try opening it further, and then closing it, perhaps a few times, alternately, before you give up.
posted by paulsc at 8:26 AM on June 20, 2009

my toilet is fixed. thanks, everyone!
posted by janepanic at 11:33 AM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I am insanely happy that the answers were provided by jimfl (jimmy the flapper) and aquaman.
posted by mwhybark at 5:47 PM on June 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sweet. That 4 years at Harvard is really paying off.
posted by Aquaman at 9:16 PM on June 20, 2009

« Older how do I describe bazuka gel to a german...   |   Measure twice, buy once? Now you tell me. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.