Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

I’ve received a few emails and comments letting me know that some of you are going to try to repair your toilets! I just wanted to say, way to go! Plus, some of you had a few questions for me as well.

Here are the questions:

1. Our 1/2 bath toilet seems to chronically clog. We use enzyme stuff to clear it but it just clogs again the next time someone does anything substantial in it. It’s annoying. Any tips?

A. Adjust the amount of water in the tank so it will give more H20 to flush (as shown at the end of Toilet Repairs Part 2). Or use a good accordian style plunger:

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

If all else fails, you may have a clog and need to snake your toilet out. I’ve seen some snakes that attach to a drill.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Just be careful you don’t scratch the bottom of your toilet bowl when snaking it.

2. What are the symptoms for needing a new fill valve? On ours, you have to push the flush handle down really hard and hold it… or it won’t flush at all on first flush sometimes. Thanks for the great tutorials!

A. It sounds like you either need a new flapper or you might try tightening the chain between the flapper and the lever rod. If you need to replace the flapper, you should probably replace the entire overflow tube/flapper assembly.

And that leads me to today’s tutorial!

How to replace the overflow tube and flapper:

In review, here is what your toilet tank parts are:

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

And here is the kit I recommend you purchase (costs about $20):

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

And here are the tools you will need:

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

  • Plumber’s Wrench (must have a wide mouth opening. The Irwin pliers shown have just enough of an opening to work)
  • Adjustable Crescent Wrench
  • Handsaw (drywall, coping or hack saw will work. Needs to cut through PVC)
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Level
  • Scissors
  • Bucket or basin
  • Sponge
  • Rags or Towels
  • Rubber Gloves

Disclaimer: This tutorial is a general overview of replacing an overflow tube and flapper in your toilet tank. Be sure to follow the directions that come with your toilet parts as there may be changes or additional steps.

If you haven’t done so already, start by turning off the water. There should be a water shut off valve in the wall behind your toilet. Gently turn the knob clockwise to shut the valve.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Next, flush your toilet to drain the water from the tank. If your tank re-fills the water is not completely shut off.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Remove the lid to your tank. Set it in a safe place where it can’t get dropped and broken.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

If there is still a lot of water in the bottom of the tank. Lift the flapper chain to drain the tank to the top of the flapper.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Use a sponge to completely soak up all the water remaining in the tank.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Once the tank is completely empty we can start to remove the overflow tube and flapper. But, first you need to disconnect the water supply tube. Because TODAY we are going to take the entire tank off! Don’t be freaked out, you can do this. It is just like unscrewing the screws and removing a light switch cover (only it weighs a lot more.)

Look underneath the tank to see where the water line feeds into the tank. Using pliers, loosen and then remove the coupling nut from the supply line.

One quick note about supply lines: If your toilet has a plastic or rubber supply line, you should consider replacing it with a braided metal supply line that is less prone to breaking or leaks (in other words they can cause a major flood!) The same advice applies to the water lines under your sink and definitely your clothes washer.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Place the basin or bucket underneath the supply line and gently remove the line from the bottom of the fill valve (gray threaded stem shown below.)

 

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Detach the chain from the lever rod inside the tank.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Remove the rubber gasket by lifting up the sides of the flaps. If your gasket is attached a different way, don’t worry about it, just leave it attached.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Disconnect the water refill hose from the overflow tube by sliding the anchor hook up and off the overflow.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Use your flat head screwdriver to lose the bolts at the bottom of the tank (on either side of the flapper.) You may need to reach underneath and hold the nut (or wing nut) with pliers as the bolt begins to loosen.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Once the nut (or wing nut) has been removed, you can now lift the tank off the toilet (using both hands.) Ask for help if you are concerned about possibly dropping the tank.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

I recommend draping a towel over the toilet seat lid to rest the tank onto.

Remove the rubber gasket in the center of the underside of your tank. You may want to wear gloves (not because of germs, but because the rubber may be deteriorating and can leave black on your hands. But, come to think about it, I have two little boys and their aim isn’t exactly spot on. If you know what I mean.)

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Now you need to remove the two bolts that held the tank to the toilet base. Loosen the nut with the pliers or crescent wrench.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Remove the nut and washer.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Repeat to remove the other bolt.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Grab the pliers and loosen the large plastic hex nut that was under the gasket. Then remove the nut. (I’m very thankful that the Irwin Adjustable Hex pliers I have worked perfectly. Otherwise, I would have had to buy a pair of plumbing pliers.)

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Now you can remove the overflow tube and flapper assembly from the tank.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

If you are replacing all the parts in your tank at once, when the tank is empty is a great time to give it a good cleaning!

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Okay, time to put Frankenstein back together again. Grab the new overflow tube and flapper assembly from your kit. Insert the new overflow tube back into the toilet tank. Make sure it is sitting flush against the bottom of the tank (you may need to tilt the tank for it to feed all the way through.) Then set your level up to the line indicated on the fill valve. Make a mark on the overflow tube one inch lower than the mark on the fill valve..

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Cut the top of your overflow tube off using a saw. Sand any rough edges if necessary.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Re-insert the flush valve (overflow tube & flapper assembly) into the tank.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Thread the new hex nut onto the bottom of the overflow tube and hand tighten it.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Because I don’t possess the masculine type strength, I use my pliers to turn the hex nut another half a turn until it is snug but not tight enough to crack the tank.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Fit the new rubber gasket over the hex nut as shown below.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Insert two new bolts into the tank with a rubber washer just below the head of the bolt.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Thread a metal washer and a nut onto the bolts from the underside of the tank.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Gently tighten the nut with the crescent wrench. I can’t stress enough how important it is not to overtighten the nut. Or you will crack your toilet tank.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Repeat the same steps to insert the other bolt. The bottom of your tank should look like this:

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Carefully replace the tank back onto the toilet base. Being sure to line up the bolts with the holes on the toilet.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Set a level on top of the tank and level it.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Thread the rubber washer, metal washer and then the new wing nut onto the bottom of the bolt. Tighten the wing nuts on both sides. All the while keep an eye on the tank to make sure it stays level.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Attach the flapper chain back onto the lever rod. Make sure there is a slight amount of slack in the chain, but not too much. Trim any excess chain that hangs too close to the flapper.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper
Attach the water refill hose to the over flow tube by sliding the anchor clip back onto the overflow tube..

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Re-attach the water supply line making sure the coupling nut is nice and snug.

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Turn on the water supply to refill the tank. Test the toilet by flushing it. Make sure the flapper closes and nothing holds it open. Replace the tank lid and enjoy your fully functioning toilet!

Toilet Repairs Replacing the Overflow Tube and Flapper

Hey, thanks for sticking with me through this “ugly” but necessary tutorial series. Hopefully I haven’t scared you off (judging from the very few comments I received.) I promise I have some more “attractive” tutorials coming soon. Then you can bring back your wonderfully sweet comments.

Hey, you came back! So glad you weren’t scared off by my toilet repair post. Well, congratulations to you for sticking with me and wanting to learn how to fix your toilet.

In Part 1 we learned how to replace the flush lever. If you found it easy, I know you won’t find today’s tutorial too difficult. And then, you will certainly be able to replace the overflow tube and flapper in my next post.

In review, here is what your toilet tank parts are:

Here is the kit I recommend you purchase (costs about $20):

And here are the tools you will need:

  • Plumber’s Wrench (must have a wide mouth opening. The Irwin pliers shown have just enough of an opening to work)
  • Adjustable Crescent Wrench
  • Handsaw (drywall, coping or hack saw will work. Needs to cut through PVC)
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Level
  • Scissors
  • Bucket or basin
  • Sponge
  • Rags or Towels
  • Rubber Gloves

Disclaimer: This tutorial is a general overview of replacing a fill valve in your toilet tank. Be sure to follow the directions that come with your toilet parts as there may be changes or additional steps.

If you haven’t done so already, start by turning off the water. There should be a water shut off valve in the wall behind your toilet. Gently turn the knob clockwise to shut the valve.

Next, flush your toilet to drain the water from the tank. If your tank re-fills the water is not completely shut off.

Remove the lid to your tank. Set it in a safe place where it can’t get dropped and broken.

If there is still a lot of water in the bottom of the tank. Lift the flapper chain to drain the tank to the top of the flapper.

Use a sponge to completely soak up all the water remaining in the tank.

Once the tank is completely empty we can start to remove the fill valve. Look underneath the tank to see where the water line feeds into the tank. Using pliers, loosen and then remove the coupling nut from the supply line.

One quick note about supply lines: If your toilet has a plastic or rubber supply line, you should consider replacing it with a braided metal supply line that is less prone to breaking or leaks (in other words they can cause a major flood!) The same advice applies to the water lines under your sink and definitely your clothes washer.

Place the basin or bucket underneath the supply line and gently remove the line from the bottom of the fill valve (gray threaded stem shown below.)

Remove the washer holding the fill valve to the tank.

Inside the tank, locate the small rubber hose that attaches the fill valve to the overflow tube. Then disconnect the hose as shown below.

Now you should be able to lift the fill valve up and out of the tank.

Place the new fill valve into the tank where the old one was. Notice the sleek new design, No Float Ball!

Side Note: You may need to adjust the height of the fill valve to fit in your tank.  If so, twist the top portion of the valve independent of the bottom half. (After you fill the tank, you can raise or lower the valve the same way if you need to adjust the height of the fill valve.)

Thread the new washer onto the bottom of the fill valve where it extends out the bottom of the tank.


Gently tighten the washer, but be careful not to overtighten, or you might break the tank.


Next thread the coupling nut back onto the bottom of the fill valve to secure the water line.


Add the fill valve water hose onto the side of the fill valve. Then measure the distance to the top of the flush valve. Leave an extra inch, and trim any excess hose.


Find the  anchor clip that attaches the hose to the overflow tube.


Slide the hose onto the clip and attach it with a hose clamp (if included with your kit).


Attach another hose clamp to the end of the hose where it meets the fill valve. Slide the anchor clip onto the top of the overflow tube. The hose should be free of kinks and should arch up as shown.


Before you turn the water back on, you need to flush the fill valve to rid it of any foreign matter. Twist the top of the fill valve counter clockwise and lift up to release it.


Place a bucket or cup directly over the top of the fill valve. This will re-direct the water that is going to spray straight up out of the fill valve.


Gently turn on the water supply while holding the bucket. Let it run for a few seconds, then turn it off again.


Replace the cap of the fill valve by setting the cap back on top and then twist the cap clockwise. Make sure it is on securely. Then turn the water supply back on.

While the tank is filling, press down on the float cup until it is submerged under water for 30 seconds. Then release. Now you can adjust the water level adjustment screw until the water in the tank is about 1″ lower than the top of the overflow tube.

Test your toilet by flushing it a few times. Does it work?! Hooray! You’ve now replaced 2/3 of your toilet tank parts. Next up, how to replace the overflow tube and flapper assembly.

Today, I have Part 1 in a 3 Part Series on Toilet Repairs! Today we’ll learn How To Replace the Lever!

When visiting Scotland, we took a tour of Mary King’s Close we learned about life in Edinburgh before the toilet was invented. It was definitely not a pretty time in the city’s history. People literally dumped their pails of waste into the streets of Edinburgh and the sludge ran down the streets and into the loch (lake). They were only allowed to dump the pails early or late in the day after the street vendors were gone and the streets were less crowded. Then they opened their doors or window and threw out the sludge yelling, “gardyloo” loosely translated as “watch out for the water!” How thoughtful of them. But, people would still slip and fall in the muck coated walkways.

Back then the saying about Edinburgh was that you could smell it before you could see it.

Thank goodness the toilet was invented! Go now and hug your porcelain bowls. Okay, well you don’t have to, but be thankful for your loo.

Did you know that a leaky or malfunctioning toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water per day, that is over 70,000 gallons of water in a year! Yikes!

If you have a leaking toilet or one that doesn’t shut off I encourage you to fix it yourself! Yes, you can do this, no need to hire a plumber.

First, for anyone concerned about putting their hands in “crap water”, let me reassure you that all the repairs I am going to show you are in the tank and the tank holds clean water that is then used to flush the toilet. So, no need to worry about contaminated water. That isn’t to say that the tank won’t have mineral deposits or black residue in it. This is a result of the break down of the rubber gasket or hard water deposits, so you may want to don some rubber gloves.

Over the next few days I will show you how to replace everything in your tank. I HIGHLY recommend purchasing an entire tank repair kit and replace all the parts at once. It will save you time and money, because if one part of your tank is going bad, the others are likely to follow close behind.

Complete Toilet Repair Kits cost about $20

Today we will get your feet wet (no pun intended) by replacing the handle also known as the flush lever. Then I will show you how to replace the fill valve and finally how to replace the overflow tube and flapper assembly.

But, before we begin, you will need a few tools (tools shown are for a full repair job.)

  • Plumber’s Wrench (must have a wide mouth opening)
  • Adjustable Crescent Wrench
  • Handsaw (drywall, coping or hack saw will work. Needs to cut through PVC)
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Level
  • Scissors
  • Bucket or basin
  • Sponge
  • Rags or Towels
  • Rubber Gloves

Ready? Well, let’s begin! Start by turning off the water. There should be a water shut off valve in the wall behind your toilet. Gently turn the knob clockwise to shut the valve.

Next, flush your toilet to drain the water from the tank. If your tank re-fills the water is not completely shut off.

Remove the lid to your tank. Set the lid in a safe place where it can’t be dropped or broken.

Inside the tank, opposite the lever, is a lock nut that holds the lever in place.


Using your pliers, gently loosen the nut and then remove the lock nut by hand. Just a little note: the nut may turn in the opposite direction than you would expect.

Remove the flapper chain from the end of the rod attached to the lever.


Remove the old flush lever and replace it with the new one.

Thread the lock nut back onto the new lever. Gently tighten the lock nut, but not too much. Over tightening could result in a cracked tank.


Replace the flapper chain on the new lever rod (picture below shows two chains, but you may only have one.) Adjust the chain so there is a slight amount of slack in the chain. Remove any excess chain that could get caught in the flapper (but leave an inch or two on the chain for adjustments).


Turn the water back on and let the tank fill.


Test the lever by depressing it. Replace the tank lid and test it again making sure that the flush lever rod doesn’t hit the top of the tank lid before lifting the flapper. Once it flushes properly, you are done!
That wasn’t hard, was it? Stay tuned as I show you how to replace the fill valve and finally how to replace the overflow tube and flapper assembly!

PHGFancySign

I just finished cleaning the bathroom. The mirror is spotless, the sink is clean, and the toilet is cl… ARGH! I just cleaned the toilet and that flaking hinge just dropped another metal flake on the seat!

Do any of you have a similar problem? Or is your seat old and looks dirty no matter how much elbow grease you use?
Don’t put up with ugly toilet seats any longer! This fix is inexpensive and takes about 15 minutes.
New toilet seats start at $20. I splurged on this soft close lid for $35. I’ll tell you why later.
You will need pliers and a phillips or flat head screw driver (depending on your bolts).
I received the adjustable Irwin Groove Lock pliers from Irwin to test, and I do have to say that I like the convenience of adjusting it with the push of a button. That sure beats looking for the right size socket or crescent wrench! {I was not paid to say that, see my product review disclosure here}
Locate the bolt and nut under your toilet bowl. Use your pliers to loosen the nut (remember lefty loosey to unscrew.) 

Once the nuts on both sides have been removed, you should be able to lift the old seat straight up and off the toilet.
Locate the two seat bolts for your new seat. (Be sure to familiarize yourself with the instructions for your new seat since they may vary slightly from this post. Some seats have the bolts attached to the seat already.)
Insert them into the holes in the toilet.
Thread the nut onto the bolts from underneath. Then tighten the bolts with a screwdriver and hold the nut with your pliers. Be careful not to over-tighten the bolts or your toilet bowl could crack.
The seat I bought has a quick release hinge so you can thoroughly clean the seat and around the hinges. Simply snap the seat on top of the bolts and then rotate the hinge cap clockwise to lock it in place.

And the seat is installed. I love that our toilet seat has a soft close feature.

Now the true reason I bought the soft close seat:

These two boys in training think it is pretty cool and are MORE likely to lift up the toilet seat when using it and return it to the down position when done! Any of you who have little boys in your home, you know what I’m talking about, right?! You have to start training them young! (I never want to sit down in droplets of pee ever again. Ewwww!)