Worn flapper might be cause of toilet flush sound

Worn flapper might be cause of toilet flush sound

My toilets occasionally sound like they're flushing on their own. Is this an indication of a problem? - Marilyn Banks

"I get calls on this daily," says Michelangelo Gerace, owner of highly rated Michelangelo's Plumbing in Granada Hills, Calif. "Generally, it means the rubber flapper in the tank has deteriorated. Water will seep out and the fill valve will kick on to refill. That's what you're hearing."

Spending at least $110 to replace the flapper will eventually be offset by water-bill savings, especially given California's rates, says Gerace. The flapper can last several years, but may deteriorate faster in hard water and with in-tank toilet cleaners. Chlorine also speeds flapper failure, says Ever Bol, field supervisor with highly rated New-Pipe Plumbing & Rooter of North Hollywood, Calif., which charges at least $80 to $120 to replace tank components.

Because there are dozens of flapper styles, Gerace advises homeowners to provide their Los Angeles plumber with the model number stamped inside the tank in case the part needs to be ordered. "If the leak's not bad, we can wait to install it until you need something else to be done," he says.

Gerace recommends replacing the fill valve at the same time as the flapper, since it, too, will deteriorate over time. "If you have a plumber out anyway, it's a small amount of money extra," since many fill valves cost $20 or less.

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