Troubleshooting a Flapper That Closes Too Soon

The flapper is a key component in helping the toilet flush. When the flapper closes too soon it causes the toilet to only partially flush. Since you don’t want to leave your business floating around in the toilet, you’ll want to fix this problem asap. What causes the flapper to close too soon?

One of the most common reasons that a flapper closes too soon is that the chain that it’s attached to has become loose. You can adjust or shorten the chain to prevent this from happening. You should also inspect the flapper for any signs of dirt or damage. Dirt build-up can add extra weight, causing the flapper to close quickly.

We know how frustrating this problem can be for homeowners. If your toilet flapper closes too soon, you’ve come to the right page. Today, we’re going to cover the reasons why this happens and how you can fix the problem. Read on to learn more.

What Is The Purpose Of A Toilet Flapper?

The flapper is responsible for draining water from the tank into the bowl when you flush the toilet. It allows a precise amount of water into the bowl to help with the flushing process.

When it closes too soon, it prevents the toilet from getting a full flush. On the other hand, if it takes too long to close (or gets stuck open), the toilet will run continuously. The amount of time it takes for the flapper to close is key for the toilet’s flushing process.

Most homeowners never think about the flapper until they have a problem with it. It’s a very inexpensive piece, usually costing homeowners under $10 if they need to replace it. However, in most situations, if there’s an issue with the toilet flappers, it’s easy to fix without having to replace it.

5 Reasons Why The Toilet Flapper Is Closing Too Quickly

Your toilet flapper is closing too quickly if you’re not getting a full flush. There are a few different reasons why this could occur. Let’s take a look at these reasons so you can figure out what’s wrong with your toilet.

1. Water Level Is Too Low

One of the most common reasons a flapper will close quickly is that the water levels are set too low. Have you ever thought about how the toilet knows how much water to let in and out?

There is an overflow pipe in the water tank. This pipe has a sign that marks the water level. If it’s set too low, there will be less water and the flapper will close sooner than you want.

Luckily, this is a very simple fix. All you need to do is adjust the overflow pipe and raise the marker up. It’s recommended to raise it approximately 1 to 2 inches. You should notice an immediate change in the water levels.

2. Flapper Chain Is Too Loose

Long chains are more likely to become loose. Take a look at the chain attached to the flapper. This chain is responsible for connecting the flapper to the toilet’s flusher. One of the reasons this can become an issue is that the loose chain wraps around the post in the tank.

This isn’t a complicated fix. The best way to deal with this problem is to shorten the chain. You can do this by removing a few links from the chain. This ensures the chain is the right length so it won’t get caught on anything.

3. Clogged Drainage Hole

There is a drainage hole connected to the bowl from the tank. Water passes through this hole to fill the bowl. The toilet flapper can close before the bowl completes a full flush when the drainage hole is clogged.

When this happens, you might end up flushing the toilet a few times in order to get everything to go down.


If this is the problem, you will need to unclog the hole. In most situations, the clog isn’t severe. This allows homeowners to use simple solutions to unclog it. An easy way to unclog the hole is with dish soap and hot water. You can also push the clog out with a screwdriver or other thin object.

4. Flapper Is Damaged

A dirty or damaged flapper will close too soon. You should inspect the flapper to see if there are any signs of dirt or debris stuck on it. This can add extra weight to the flapper, causing it to close quickly.

Another thing to consider is wear and tear. Flappers are used quite frequently. Since they’re out of sight, most homeowners don’t think about cleaning them off regularly. The wear and tear can cause them to eventually become damaged.

You can clean off a dirty flapper to remove the weight of the dirt. However, if the flapper is past the stage of needing to be cleaned, you will need to replace it.

5. Issues With The Toilet

Problems with the flapper can become present if the toilet is having problems. There are a number of reasons why this can happen. One of the most common ones is frequent flushing. This can cause the toilet to become waterlogged.

Do you have a new or modern toilet? These toilets have a flexible foam feature to make the toilet more efficient. This foam is connected to the toilet chain. It results in less water being wasted during the flushing cycle.

While the foam is an excellent feature, it can cause problems if it’s installed separately. You may need to replace the foam and flapper if this is the case. Make sure you replace them with a flapper that already has the foam in the package.

Prepare To Fix Toilet Flapper

Fixing the toilet flapper isn’t a difficult job. However, you will need to be prepared before you start. Proper preparation is important because it can prevent leaks from occurring. It’s also important because it can prevent you from making a mess.

So, what do you need to do to prepare to fix the toilet flapper? Here are some tips from the experts.

  • Shut off the water valve to the toilet. This will prevent the tank from filling up while you’re fixing the flapper.
  • Remove the toilet tank lid. This will allow you to see all the parts inside the tank. You will also be able to reach the flapper with ease. Make sure you place a sheet of cardboard or old towels on the ground to place the toilet lid on.
  • Place a bucket underneath the toilet tank. You’ll likely splash a lot of water around fixing the flapper. This bucket will catch any excess water.
  • Flush the toilet. This is important because it will drain the tank. You will have an empty area to work in.

How To Fix Your Toilet Flapper

Now that you have an idea of what could be causing the toilet flapper to close quickly, it’s time to fix it. Make sure you carefully inspect the flapper to find out what the exact cause is. Once you know, you can pick one of the solutions listed below to fix it.

1. Increase Water Level By Adjusting The Float

Adjusting the water level in the toilet tank is a very easy way to solve this problem. Take a look inside the toilet tank to see where the float is located. It should be approximately 2 inches below the tank’s lid.

You will need to adjust the float if you notice that it’s more than 2 inches below the lid. The float is connected to the fill valve by a thin pole and held in place by an adjustment screw. To raise the float, simply adjust this screw by 1 or 2 notches.

Another thing that you should check is the overflow pipe. The water level may be set too low. You can adjust the marker by 1 to 2 inches to increase the water level. Both of these solutions will fix the problem immediately if the water level is what’s causing the flapper to close quickly.

2. Adjust the Slack Between The Flapper And The Flushing Handle

There is a chain that connects the flapper to the flushing handle. The flapper will close too soon if this chain is too loose. In order to solve this dilemma, you need to adjust the chain. Here is what you need to do.

  • What you’ll need: paperclip
  1. Locate the flapper chain. The flushing handle will be connected to a metal (or plastic) pole. You’ll find the flapper chain attached to this pole.
  2. Remove the chain from the flushing handle. Look for a small opening on the link of the chain that’s connected to the flushing handle. Gently pry this link open to remove the chain.
  3. Open up the paperclip. Connect it to the flushing handle’s pole. Once it’s connected, bend the paper clip to form a circle. Make sure you leave a small opening.
  4. Connect this paperclip circle to the spot where the chain was connected.
  5. Attach the chain to the paperclip. You can do this by slipping one of the chain links through the paperclip circle’s opening. Once it’s through, clasp the ends of the paperclip together to close it. This will secure the chain link.
  6. Test the toilet by flushing it. Leave the toilet lid off when you do this so you can watch the flapper. If it still closes too soon, you will need to adjust the chain to make it tighter.

3. Unclog The Drainage Hole

Do you think the drainage hole might be the problem? If so, you will need to unclog it. We have good news for you. This clog isn’t too gruesome and is usually very simple to clear. Cleaning the toilet holes is a great way to improve the strength of the flush.

There are many ways you can unclog this hole. This is up to your own preference. You can poke the clog through with a screwdriver or a similarly shaped object. However, it’s strongly recommended to clean it. That is why many people prefer the hot water method.

  • What you need: hot water & dish soap
  1. Place one gallon of hot water on the stove or in a kettle. Heat it up so it’s very hot, but not at the point of boiling.
  2. Pour a generous amount of dish soap into the drainage hole.
  3. Slowly pour the hot water into the drainage hole.
  4. Wait approximately 15 minutes for the clog to loosen.
  5. Pour more hot water into the drainage hole to see if the clog has loosened. If it is stuck, you may need to contact a plumber.

Another great way to unclog a drainage hole is with baking soda and vinegar. All you need to do is place 2 or 3 spoonfuls of baking soda into the drainage hole. Then pour approximately 1 cup of white vinegar on top of the baking soda. Wait 15 minutes and then flush the drain hole with hot water.

4. Clean Or Replace The Flapper

Is the toilet flapper dirty? That dirt actually weighs the flapper down. Moisture allows more dirt and debris to stick to the flapper, which causes extra weight. There may not be an issue with the toilet, it could just be a gunky flapper.

The easiest solution to this is to clean the flapper. Here is what you need to do.

  • What you need: warm water, dish soap or cleaning agent, basin/bucket, rag or cleaning brush
  1. You will need to fill a basin or bucket with warm water and soap. You can also replace the soap with white vinegar or a cleaning agent (ie: Lysol, bleach, etc.)
  2. Submerge the dirty flapper in the bucket/basin. If the dirt buildup is heavy, you may want to allow it to soak for a few minutes. This will loosen the dirt.
  3. Use a rag or a soft bristle cleaning brush to wipe the flapper clean. Make sure you wipe down the entire surface so you don’t miss anything.
  4. Rinse the flapper and inspect it to make sure you have removed all of the dirt.
  5. If there is mold or mildew buildup on the flapper, we suggest scrubbing it with a scouring pad. White vinegar is the best type of cleaning agent to use when there is mold on the flapper.
  6. Run silicone caulking around the rim of the valve. Allow it to dry for at least 8 hours before putting the flapper back in place.

You will need to replace the flapper if it’s damaged or the dirt/mold will not come off.

5. Remove Or Replace The Float (If Applicable)

This solution only applies to toilets that have a float. If the problems and solutions listed above aren’t the case, the float is most likely the problem. So what should you do in this situation? There are two ways you can address this problem.

Remove the float from the toilet tank to get a full flush. As mentioned above, the float is a new feature in modern toilets. The toilet is still capable of flushing properly without the float. Once the float is removed, the flapper is able to stay open longer to allow a full flush.

Additionally, you can leave the float in place. To get a full flush, simply press both toilet tank buttons.

The float isn’t always a problematic feature. In many cases, the float does more good than it does cause problems. However, the float may become waterlogged after many uses. Toilets that get flushed frequently may experience this. If this is the problem, the float will need to be replaced.


Most of the problems that cause a flapper to close too soon can be fixed DIY. However, there may be a few occasions that require you to call a professional plumber. If there is a bad clog you can’t loosen, always call a plumber. You should also call a plumber for advanced replacements.