Drip drip drip...
December 7, 2012 7:16 PM   Subscribe

Why is my toilet making an incessant dripping sound? I think I know which part is the culprit, but I don't know why.

In the 2.5 years we've lived at this apartment, one of the toilets has had a constant dripping noise.

Referring to This diagram, I'm pretty sure the water is coming in under the flapper valve, because when I press on it with my hand, the dripping stops.

I've played with the chain length and the amount of fill in the tank, and I can't get it to seal. Here are two pictures of the chail/flapper assembly: The whole business and the valve. It doesn't seem like there's any wear or anything, and bit that attaches to the tank seems fine, too.

Do I just go to Home Depot and get a new one of these? Is there something obviously missing from the flapper, like an extra gasket or something? Any other ideas?

posted by colin_l to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Yep, just buy a new one at Home Depot, the whole thing, chain and all is about $6. The rubber degrades over time and leaks.
posted by sanka at 7:27 PM on December 7, 2012

We had the same issue and replacing the valve fixed it. I didn't do it myself because we rent, but I understand it is a pretty easy fix. You can probably find instructions on Youtube.
posted by synecdoche at 7:27 PM on December 7, 2012

Have you tried taking a toothbrush to the flapper valve, the part that seals? I've had this problem before and fixed it with a few minutes of CLR and scrubbing--we had enough mineral buildup that it was screwing with the seal. (This happened on two different toilets in two different cities--seems to be relatively common.)

If that doesn't work, yeah, walk into Home Depot and buy another valve, which will run you about five bucks. They're easy to install, not messy or anything. When you do it, make sure that you wipe off the area where the flapper sits--if there's sediment or muck or anything there, you're still not going to get a good seal, in my experience.
posted by MeghanC at 7:32 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks. Yeah, first thing I tried was giving everything a good (but not toothbrush-good) scrub. It sounds pretty straightforward. Sounds like I'm going to Home Depot tomorrow.

posted by colin_l at 7:34 PM on December 7, 2012

once you replace it, clean it every six months. Left unchecked, those things get full of biofilmy mildew, and don't ever use those cleaning pucks, the chlorine will prematurely degrade the rubber.
posted by any major dude at 8:44 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd definitely replace the flapper. It's a trivial replacement. Replacing the seat, the part (usually plastic) that the flapper seals against at the bottom is a little harder. You might want to look at that and make sure it's clean and smooth for the flapper to sit against. If it's not, you'll need to replace it. It's still a DIY job, but maybe more like an hour instead of five minutes.

Also: you may need to modify a generic flapper in order to make it fall back down fast enough to let the toilet tank refill promptly after it is done flushing. I found that (for at least one of my toilets, and I'm sure it varies with different models) punching a hole in the "bell" on the bottom of the flapper, which is designed to capture an air bubble and keep the flapper up while the water is rushing out, made it fall back down faster and thus refill properly. (If you have the opposite problem, the flapper closing too fast, then you need to attach a fishing bobber or chunk of styrofoam on the flush chain.)

tl;dr: You just have to fiddle with things a little.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:27 PM on December 7, 2012

Yup. The $4 replacement flapper from the hardware store did the trick. That was 2.5 years of unneeded misery, and a lesson learned :)
posted by colin_l at 1:26 PM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

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