Four Toilet Parts You Will Probably Have to Replace

March 4, 2022

Maintaining your toilet doesn’t have to be extremely difficult. In fact, a number of commonly-replaced parts can be easily swapped out with nothing more than some basic tools that you probably already own and a few minutes of your time. Here is a brief explanation of some of these easily-replaceable parts as well as some simple instructions to follow if you wish to swap them out yourself.

The Flapper/Plug

By far the most commonly replaced toilet part is the flapper or tank plug. Located at the bottom center of your tank, this piece of rubber or soft plastic lifts to flush the toilet bowl and then shuts to allow the tank itself to refill. Over time, constant exposure to water causes the rubber or plastic material to corrode and fall apart, creating cracks that leak water out of the bowl and down into your tank. Likewise, the piece itself could break, preventing it from properly seating and stopping water flow.

Swapping a flapper is extremely simple—simply drain the tank and unhook the old flapper from the posts that hold it in place and unhooking it from the chain that connects it to your toilet’s flush handle. Then attach a new flapper by hooking it to those same posts you disconnected it from and reconnecting the handle chain. In total, the process shouldn’t take more than a minute or two. In the vast majority of cases, flappers are a universal fit, and you can pick up replacements from virtually any home improvement store or plumbing supply for just a few dollars.

The Handle/Lever

Handles do not need to be replaced quite as often as flappers, but they do eventually wear out. In most cases, either the plastic nut that secures the handle to your toilet breaks or the chain that connects the handle lever to your flapper plug corrodes and breaks. In either case, getting a replacement handle is generally extremely simple and costs only a few dollars at a home improvement store or plumbing supply.

Changing a handle is usually extremely easy. For most toilets, the handle can be disconnected by unscrewing the plastic security nut located inside your toilet tank. Once unscrewed, disconnect the handle from your flapper plug by unhooking the chain that links them. From there, slide the plastic nut off the handle and it should pull free from your toilet. To replace the handle, just reverse the process: put the new handle in place, slide the new locking nut onto the handle inside the tank, tighten it down by hand (be careful not to overtighten this piece, as it will break), and then reconnect the flapper via the new attached chain. You may have to adjust your lever’s chain length in order to make sure that the handle can fully open the flapper valve and properly flush, but this shouldn’t be too difficult.

The Fill Valve

Over time, the seals that allow fill valves to properly turn on and off can wear out, resulting in fill valves leaking or spraying water in ways that they shouldn’t be. Fill valves don’t wear out all that often, but it isn’t difficult to replace them when they do. Like most other toilet parts, you can pick up a replacement for cheap from any home improvement store or plumbing supply near you.

To replace your fill valve, shut off the water line that feeds your toilet (typically found on the wall either behind or immediately to the side of your toilet. Then flush the toilet to drain the tank as much as possible. Once your tank is empty and the water pressure inside your fill valve has depleted, loosen disconnect the water feed tube that connects the valve to this water supply line (simply pull and the tube should slide right off. Then loosen the nut that locks the valve in place, located on the bottom of the tank immediately beneath the fill valve post. The valve should then pull right out.

To connect the new valve, remove the nut from the bottom of your new valve post and put the new valve assembly in place in your tank. Screw the locking nut in place and tighten it down by hand (be careful not to overtighten it). Then connect the new feed tube to the water supply line (you should simply be able to slide it in place) and make sure that the water feed line connects to the valve in the right spot. From there, turn your water back on and the tank should start refilling. You will more than likely need to adjust your new float stop to make sure the valve shuts without over or under-filling your tank.

The Wax Ring

Finally, all toilets depend on a wax ring to form a tight, functioning seal between the bottom of the toilet and your sewage drain line located in the floor of your bathroom. These rings do wear out over time, and it’s important to replace them before they wear out to the point where they allow raw sewage to spill out into your bathroom.

Replacing a wax ring is simple, but does require some muscle, as you’ll have to lift your toilet out of place to access the sewage drain line. Toilets are heavy, so we advise having some help. Once you have shut off the water and flushed your toilet to drain it, unscrew the locking nuts at the base of your toilet that secure it to the floor. From there, you should be able to lift your toilet out of the way (be careful, some water left in the trap will leak out). From there, use a scraper to remove the old wax ring that should still be stuck to the floor. Once the area has been suitably cleaned up, place a new ring around the sewage drain and then place the toilet back over the top. You should feel the toilet seat in place with the new ring. Then place the locking nuts back over the floor posts and tighten your toilet in place again. Once you reattach the water line, turn on the water, refill the tank, and flush the toilet once. As long as no water leaks out from the bottom of your toilet, you have completed the job properly.

Get help with these or any other toilet-related problems by calling your preferred local plumber at Winters® Home Services! Dial 617-221-5899 today.