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Fixing Phantom Flushes: a DIY Guide for Your Leaky Toilet Flapper

2 min read • February 28th, 2023

Heil Plumbing

Have you ever heard your toilet flush seemingly without cause? Don’t worry: It’s not a ghost. It’s a “phantom flush”. This phenomenon usually happens when the flapper in your toilet tank isn’t functioning correctly, causing the water in your tank to leak into the bowl. (If you’re not sure if your tank is leaking, try this easy toilet dye test.)

Fortunately, fixing a leaky toilet flapper is an easy DIY, and it can save you hundreds of dollars on your monthly water bill. 

How to Prepare for Your Toilet Flapper Repair 

Before addressing your leaky toilet flapper, you’ll need to turn off the valves that control the water flow to and from your toilet tank. 

Besides that, all you need to get started is a new toilet flapper. If you own a Kohler toilet, you’ll need a Kohler brand flapper. Most other toilets can take any universal model.

5 Steps – How to Fix a Leaky Toilet Flapper  

  1. Once you’ve shut off the valves, start by draining your toilet tank. You can do this by flushing the toilet. 
  2. Remove the old leaky toilet flapper by detaching the flapper chain from its lever arm and prongs that hug either side of the flush valve.
  3. Attach the new flapper.
  4. Adjust the length of the flapper chain. (If it’s too short, water from the tank may continue leaking into the toilet bowl. If it’s too long, it won’t open fully when you flush.) There should be two links of slack when the handle is at rest. It might take a few tries to get it right for optimal performance.
  5. f you have an older toilet that contains a float, you’ll need to adjust it. Toilet floats help prevent your tank from overflowing. If the float is too low, it will continue sending signals for your toilet to fill up with more water than necessary, causing your toilet to run. Make sure your float is set one to two inches below the fill valve and overflow tube.
Red leaky toilet flapper inside toilet tank

Red toilet flapper and chain attached to handle

Once you’ve replaced your leaky toilet flapper, turn the water on and test it by flushing a couple of times. If everything is functioning properly, you should no longer hear phantom flushes when you’re not using the toilet.

If your toilet still isn’t working correctly, adjust the chain length or float height (if you have one). This should do the trick. To be sure, test your toilet by flushing again.If you continue hearing phantom flushes, call Heil Plumbing. One of our expert plumbers will solve your pesky toilet flapper problem for good.

Looking for other toilet installation and repair services or just for a reliable professional plumber? Contact Heil Plumbing to schedule an appointment with a trustworthy plumber in Baltimore or the surrounding area.  Live closer to D.C.?  Trust our expert Montgomery County plumbers.


Eddie Heil

8177 Mission Rd Jessup, MD, 20794, United States

(410) 799-7727

Schedule Service


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