What’s All the Flap About this Flapper?


by Peter Speckner, Communications Coordinator

The average person living in the Region of Waterloo uses 200 litres of water a day so our regional government created an online self-audit called the WET Challenge. It is part of an effort to lower the average amount of water used per person to 165 litres.

Is your flapper your #1 water waster?

No, we’re not talking about young women from the 20s.

We’re referring to the part of your toilet that seals the tank after flushing so it can refill itself. It also happens to be the most common part to fail and cause water to be wasted.

When it fails, it leaks water from your toilet tank into the bowl. It’s like leaving a tap running in your sink in between each time you use it.

So, today we’ll discuss what it is, where it’s found, how to see if it’s leaking, and what to do about it.

Where is your flapper?

When you flush your toilet, you are lifting the flapper, and the water from the tank flows into the bowl. Once the tank is empty, the flapper falls back down, sealing the tank, allowing it to refill. Simple enough, right?

Triple Flapper Pic V2

You can hear large leaks. But small ones are quiet!

You should pay attention to the sounds your toilet makes. If you’ve noticed that water is still running long after the flush has finished, it probably means the flapper isn’t sealing properly and you have a large leak.

However, not all leaks make noise. A small leak will not have any sound at all.

Flapper failure wastes water and money!

Flapper failure itself can be caused by age, deterioration due to in-tank cleaning products, or mineral build-up.

A constantly running toilet can waste up to 300 litres per day. That’s a lot of wasted water, and can add hundreds of dollars to your water bills over the course of a year.

How to test for a leak

leak testing square picLuckily, testing for a faulty flapper is easy to do. Follow these easy steps to see how your flapper fairs.

  • Put a few drops of food colouring into your tank when it’s full.
  • Wait 30 minutes.
  • Check the bowl.
  • If you see coloured water, then water is leaking through the flapper.

Now that you know your flapper is failing, what is the next step? Most hardware stores sell flapper replacement kits for less than $10 with easy-to-follow instructions. That is a small price to pay to stop the leak and save money in the long run.

More water conservation ideas

The Region of Waterloo has a this page for other ideas on water conservation in your home.

Take the WET Challenge!

wet challenge logo

Lastly, if you’re concerned that your household might be a high water user, and not just from leaky toilets, the Region can help you figure that out as well. They have created the W.E.T Challenge, an online self-audit tool that will calculate your average household water usage.

If it is high, you could be eligible for a FREE in-home consultation with one of our REEP Green Solutions water auditors who will help you find where the waste is happening and suggest ways to reduce it.



  • By Scott Albrecht 25 Apr 2016

    We noticed that our toilet was running, and doing this did the trick. I didn’t even need any tools.

  • By Krista Parsons 26 Apr 2016

    My problem is that the chain on the flapper gets caught up so the flapper doesn’t fall back into place. Doesn’t happen every time but I have to take the lid off at least once a week to untangle the chain. How do I fix this issue for good?

  • By REEPGreen 26 Apr 2016

    @Krista Parsons  Yeah, that would be frustrating.  It sounds like your chain is too long.  The simpler fix is to re-attach the chain on the flush arm, somewhere higher up.  This will remove some of the slack, which should prevent it from catching.  If that doesn’t work, then try physically removing some links from the chain.  That will shorten it for sure.  Let me know if those suggestions don’t pan out.

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