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The toilet won't stop filling. I lift the lid and jiggle the chain but the water continues to flow out of the tank. Damn, the thing that lets the water out doesn't seal anymore. The toilet has to be fixed and there was no way I was paying a plumber to do it unless I gave it a shot first.

I ride my bicycle to the hardware store and head to the plumbing section. The first thing learn is that the thing that lets the water out of the tank is called the “Flapper”. I need a new flapper. There are a couple styles. The cheapest is about $3. All it is is a flat piece of rubber with a plastic “chain” to connect it to the flusher arm. It looked cheap. The Rolls Royce of flappers had a rubber seal with a little cup on the top. The cup had little drainage holes in the bottom. The high-end flapper came with a metal chain and cost about $7.

One observation was that all flappers were about the same size. I felt comfortable that there wasn't some commie proprietary metric flapper scale floating around to mess up my day. I still had to choose which one to get. The flapper I took out of the tank looked like the low-end rubber disk. That style had served me well for a number of years. Since this was my first flapper-ectomy I didn't want to change too many things. I went with the low end.

I got home and proceeded to install the new flapper. The process was simple. All you have to do is pop the little things that stick out into the little holes so it is on a hinge. Once you run the chain from the flapper to the flusher arm, you're golden. The problem was that the new flapper would not stay open until all the water left the tank. I was getting wimpy flushes. There was no way my toilet could handle the aftermath from a night of beer and Taco Bell. I had to fix this.

I watched the toilet flush a couple times when I noticed the water rushing out of the tank was pushing the flapper back down. I said, “Screw it!” and rode back to the hardware store to get the Rolls Royce Flapper. It installed just as easily. When I watched the toilet flush I immediately saw the advantage of the high-end design. When the tank is full the cup on the top of the flapper fills with water. The chain pulls the flapper up during a flush. The water in the cup adds enough weight so it doesn't get pushed closed by the under tow. The little holes in the bottom of the cup allow the water to escape. The flapper falls closed once the cup is empties. The simplicity of the design was sheer genius.

I still had a problem. The chain would sometimes tangle in the flapper causing it to stick open. When I upgraded my flapper to the high-end I changed the chain to metal one that it came with. The low-end flapper had a plastic chain. The plastic chain would float keeping it safely away from the flapper. With the plastic chain the problem with the tangled chain was solved.

I now have a toilet that flushes reliable. I learned that there is nothing to be afraid of in the toilet tank. All the icky stuff happens in the bowl. Go for the gusto when purchasing a flapper. A flush is too important. You don't want a mis-flush because of bad equipment. Most important lesson learned was with the chain. The cheap plastic chain works better then the heavier metal chain. Happy flushing!
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