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Thread: Flapper closes too soon

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    buffalochipatlanta is offline New Member
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    Question Flapper closes too soon

    I'm stumped. It appears the flapper on our toilet is closing too soon--you have to hold the handle down in order to complete the flush. I replaced the flapper, made sure the chain lengh it pretty taught and even ran pipe cleaners through the holes in the toilet rim to make sure they weren't plugged and preventing the water from entering the bowl as quickly as possible.

    Any ideas?

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    LazyPup's Avatar
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    You may have gotten caught up in one of the mysteries of the modern world. While all flappers may appear to the be same in reality such is not the case.

    If you will examine the underside of a flapper valve you will see an inverted cup with a hole in the bottom. When the flapper is at rest in the closed postion air enters the hole in the flapper cup from below. When the flapper is lifted that trapped air forms a bubble that holds the flapper in the vertical position until the water level in the bowl is below the opening of the flapper cup. Once the water level is below the flapper the air bubble can no longer support the flapper and the physical weight of the flapper causes it to drop down to the closed position.

    Up until the mid 1980's all water closets consumed an average of 4 to 4.5 gallons per flush and with the growing concerns for water conservation the industry begin finding ways to conserve the amount of water consumed by the flushing action.

    In the early days of water conservation toilets they simply reduced the overall size of the tanks while keeping all other physical dimensions of the toilet basically the same. In this manner they got the average down to 3.5gpf.

    In order for a toilet to flush properly the water stored in the tank needs to discharge into the bowl quickly, which then raises the water level in the bowl above the top of the trap and the water spills out the back of the trap in a large slug that begins a syphon action. This syphon action continues until almost all of the water in the bowl is sucked up through the trap, which finally permits some air to enter the discharge port in the bottom of the bowl, rise up in the trap and break the syphon action. When this occurs a small amount of the water in the trap then backflows back into the bowl, but the level is still too low to insure a good gas tight seal in the trap, so the fill valve has a small plastic by pass line called the "Trap Primer" that allows a portion of the incoming fill water to flow down the standpipe and into the bowl to refill the trap.

    The government then gave the industry a target of finding ways to build a toilet that would only consume 1.6 gal/flush. In order to meet the new standard they again reduced the size of the tanks, however it was discovered that the common flapper was leaving far too much water in the bottom of the tank, so the flappers were then redesigned with a smaller hole in the inverted cup. This meant that the bubble would remain in the flapper until the water level in the tank was almost empty thus insuring all the water in the tank was properly discharged to the bowl.

    While reducing the tank size and redesigning the flappers had resolved the problem of how to start a flush with 1.6 gallon of water many of the early "Water saver" toilets had problems with incomplete flushes, which often required a second or third flush to completely clear any solids in the bowl.

    It was then realized that while they had resolved the problems with how to discharge the water to the bowl they had not considered the size of the traps. Realizing that a water closet must be capable of handling solid waste reducing the diameter of the trap was out of the question, however they could easily reduce the vertical height of the trap profile which would in turn reduce the amount of water required to start the syphon action.

    The problem now is that while the toilet manufacturers have done an excellant job of redesigning the system, they have not bothered to properly inform the parts retailers or the general public as to the changes in the design. As a consequence most people determine they need a new flapper and simply go to the neighborhood hardware and grab the same old reliable standard flapper that has been in use since their grandfathers time, not knowing that the new high tech toilets require a flapper matched to the Gallon Per Flush rating of thier toilets, and once the wrong flapper is installed it continues to perpetuate the myth that the new water saver toilets do not work properly.

    There is now another condition that causes a lot of confusion to the end user. In order to acheive maximum water conservation many water closets now have a two stage flushing system. If the flush handle is quickly depressed and released the flapper only releases .9 gal of water into the bowl. This is normally sufficient to handle liquid waste (urine) but if a complete flush is required to discharge solid waste you must depress the flush handle and hold it down for about 1 second before releasing it.

    In fact, according to a recent Consumer Reports study one the most reliable and hottest selling toilets on the market today is also one of the cheapest in the industry. That being the American Standard "Cadet II" which has an average retail price of $60 complete.

    Fluidmaster has now come out with a universal replacement flapper that has the rubber ball attached to a stiff plastic framework. The hole on the underside of the flapper ball is slightly off centered and the flapper can be adjusted to the proper GPF rate by simply rotating the rubber ball on the mount. While the actual cost of this type of flapper is about twice that of a conventional flapper the price is still relatively cheap at about $4 and many service plumbers and handymen are relying upon it as a universal part rather than needing to carry three different types of flappers on the service truck.
    Last edited by LazyPup; 01-26-2006 at 08:27 PM.

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    I have run into this a few times, I found that certain toilets that use a low water level to flush them has a styraphome ball on the chain in order to help hold the flapper up while flushing. This may have slipped up the chain. If yours has a float, try looking at the top and bottom of the float and you should see a flat piece of plastic. Simply grasp the plastic washer at the bottom of the float and pull it off the chain with a sideways motion. Next slide the float down the chain just a little, then re insert the washer by pushing it back onto the chain. Next remove the top one and insert it right on top of the float. Try to flush, if it got better, but still not enough, then repeat the process untill it seems ok. If your toilet doe's not have a float, you can get one from any Lowe's, Home Depot or the like and install it with no tools. Adjust as described above and I think this may solve your problem.
    I almost forgot, another problem may be that the trip lever is bent and may not have enough travel left to completely lift the flapper off the seat, chech to see if it appears bent, if so this part as with the float is (Do not quote me) maybe about 2.95 for either part. If you think it is the trip lever it can be replaced by unhooking the chain from the trip lever, then using a pair of pliers loosen the nut behind the handle remembering that this nut is LEFT threaded, in otherwords you will need to turn the nut (As viewed from the front) counter clock wise. Remove the old trip levr, install the new one, remember to fit the square peg into the square hole as this is what helps hold it into place. Install the nut by threading clock wise, SNUG with pliers, and DO NOT over tighten, it is better to tighten a little more if needed than to tighten too much and break the nut or the trip lever as they are mostly made of plastic now. If you wish, you can still get the metal ones too.
    Hope this helps
    Last edited by ABP; 01-26-2006 at 07:42 PM.
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    Homerun is offline New Member
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    Moving the float on the chain woked

    Moving the chain float down closer to the flapper valve, as suggested, made a big improvement for me. I probably have the wrong flapper (one not for a 1.6 gal toilet) anyway, so I'll get around to changing it when I can, but with the chain float in the lower position it now works well.

    So, why was it not a problem before? It turns out that I had three problems which offset each other to make the toilet work correctly until I fixed one (seriously).

    1. The chain float was too high on the chain, I put it there last time I changed the flapper. I thought its function was just to keep the chain out of the way.

    2. The flush handle level system had picked up some mineral deposits where it rotates,; therefore there was too much friction on the lever, much more than a new or clean one.

    3. Previosuly, when the flapper tried to fall down following a flush, the friction in the lever joint slowed the drop and helped keep the flapper up in combination with the float.

    Worked fine until -

    The lever joint got worse so I replaced it, the excess friction went way and the flapper then just dropped and slammed shut as soon as the handle was released because the float was too high on the chain.

    Sounds like the Challenger accident, everything was dependent on everything else!

    Thank you for the great advice. It's obvious there are some thoughtful and expert people here, I hope I can add a thing or two.

    Homerun
    Last edited by Homerun; 05-21-2010 at 04:58 PM.

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    reddcroww (11-10-2011)

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    reddcroww is offline New Member
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    Thumbs up

    Thank all of you for these posts. I have the premature flapper problem; low-flow toilet (probably an early model). The float option sounds very sensible.
    The explanations you guys provided here are excellent.
    Appreciate it greatly!

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    I have found that on many flush valves the Fluidmaster Flapper binds and will stick open. I avoid using them for that reason.

    My preference is the Korky Flappers. On the older models that use a lot of water the Korky Universal Flapper #2001BP is the one to use. On newer toilets that flush with 1.6 Gallons per flush use either the Korky Adjustable Flapper #2004BP with the float on the chain or, the Korky 1.6 Flapper #16BP.

    My preference on the water saver 1.6 gallon per flush flappers is the #16BP as I feel the float on the adjustable on the #2004BP while easier to adjust add buoyancy to the flapper increasing the likelihood of leaking. The #16BP has a plastic cone on the underside which when turned varies the speed at which it closes but adds no buoyancy when it closes so it closes harder and I feel is less susceptible to leaking.

    For people with Kohler toilets that use the Ingenium Flushing System which is just another word for same old style flush valve the gasket on the bottom of the flush valve against the tank tends to break down over time from exposure to the chemicals used for sanitizing the water. The gasket becomes rippled and may hold the flapper up from properly closing. Use a single edge razor blade to trim the ripples away allowing the flapper to close.
    Last edited by Redwood; 11-10-2011 at 03:44 PM.
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    reddcroww is offline New Member
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    Thumbs up

    Thanks to you, too Redwood. Your point on the float maybe causing leaks is very well-taken.

    The whole issue started here when the plastic arm of the flush lever broke, & the new (very-cheap; I didn't buy it) flush lever required cutting shorter, plus a lot of fiddling before it would work right. That's when we discovered what we thought was a premature flap-closure thing.

    No clue who manufactured our toilet, but stamped behind the seat indicates it is a 1.6 GPF unit. The flapper we have now does seal okay (we checked), and has no float on the chain. So we'll leave well-enough alone for now, & replace with probably one of the Corkys later. We expect the fill float to expire fairly soon, & at that point, we'll replace all of the parts at once (after taking photos of what it formerly looked like!). I would prefer having more water in the tank than there is now; I think the shaft on the fill float could be about 2" taller. Tank is less than half-full now, maybe only 1/3 full.

    Never knew about the 2-stage flush until yesterday. Hearing that this is normal is comforting. Although I would prefer the whole volume of water to go down right away without having to hold the handle down in order to make that happen.

    I realize this thread was supposed to be about "flapper closes to soon" but all of this stuff was related to everything else here, so I included it. Have learned a lot more than I ever knew about plumbing (& steam radiators!) since moving into this apartment 18 months ago.

    Anyway, thanks very much to all of you here.

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    Great thread!
    It certainly helped me pinpoint what was going on with my toilet as
    the only way I could get a good flush was to "flush twice"...lol

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    serajinn is offline New Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by buffalochipatlanta View Post
    I'm stumped. It appears the flapper on our toilet is closing too soon--you have to hold the handle down in order to complete the flush. I replaced the flapper, made sure the chain lengh it pretty taught and even ran pipe cleaners through the holes in the toilet rim to make sure they weren't plugged and preventing the water from entering the bowl as quickly as possible.

    Any ideas?
    if the toilet runs intermittently its usually draining slowly. Causes can be a defective fill valve, a leak from around the fill valve or the tank-to-bowl bolts or the washer between the tank and the bowl. But usually it s the flapper, if thats new run your finger under it around the edge and see if there is a blockage. Once I found a small deoderizing tablet inside under the flapper. Also the chain may be too short preventing the flapper from closing all the way.

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    sharktopus is offline New Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ABP View Post
    Next slide the float down the chain just a little
    I created an account just to say thanks to everyone in this thread. I was googling my problem and came upon this page.

    I went out and bought the universal Korky flapper. After a few attempts, I realized I had to put the float at the VERY BOTTOM of the chain, directly above the flapper, in order for my toilet to flush properly. Even at a half inch above the flapper, my stubborn toilet would NOT flush properly. I had to post my solution here, just in case someone else ran into this problem.

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