If you want to buy a new toilet, you might need to decide whether you want a unit with a canister flush valve or with a flapper. Since these are among the most important parts of the toilet, we will clarify all the things you need to know about these parts. Obviously, both parts have their upsides and downsides, so the final choice will depend on your preferences.
Table of Contents
What is a Flush Valve?
A flush valve is an important part of the toilet, located in the toilet tank. When you press the flush lever, the valve lets the water flow to the bowl, and that’s how the flush happens. However, the flush valve can be either a flapper or a canister valve.
What is a Canister Valve?
Toilets that have canister flush valves usually have a long, vertically-positioned cylindrical valve in the tank. When you push the lever, the valve goes up and releases water from the tank. These valves are usually large and force the water down with amazing power. However, they are also complicated and require lots of tiny components to work. On the other hand, canister flush valves require almost no maintenance and can work for a long period of time.
What is a Toilet Flapper?
Toilet flappers can usually be found among old toilets. They’re mostly made of rubber or plastic, and they prevent the water in the tank from going down to the bowl. The flapper is attached to the chain which is directly connected to the flush lever. When you push the lever, it pulls the chain and the flapper goes up. That way, water is released from the tank and performs the flush.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Both Options
No matter if you choose a canister flush valve or flapper, they both have their pros and cons. Let’s take a look at the main upsides and downsides of both systems.
Canister Flush Valve Pros & Cons
First, you should know that the canister flush valve is very efficient, and provides a fast and powerful flush. Since it allows a large amount of water to enter the bowl, in most cases, you won’t have to flush twice. The system is also durable and can last for years without causing a single issue. Plus, it’s easy to be connected to buttons instead of levers, which is an excellent addition to modern toilets.
On the other hand, the canister flush valve is a bit expensive. Plus, even though they almost never break, in case of any damage, they can be challenging to fix or replace.
Toilet Flapper Pros & Cons
A nice thing about toilet flappers is that their mechanism is simple and effective. Although they don’t provide as much power as canister valves do, their effectiveness is decent for most toilets. Additionally, they are cost-effective and very simple to fix or replace.
However, you should know that toilet flappers tend to break, especially when it comes to the chain. They also don’t flush the water as fast as canister valves do, so keep that in mind.
What Should You Consider
Now that you know the main differences between the canister valve and the flapper, let’s go a bit more into the details. Here are some of the things that you should consider when making a choice.
Basically, the longer the diameter, the more water gets released from the tank, which directly results in a more powerful flush. For example, a flapper valve usually has a diameter of two inches. Some models can go up to 2.5 inches, but it’s rare. On the other hand, a canister valve usually has a three-inch diameter, which can sometimes go up to 3.5 inches in high-end models. Obviously, canister valves have a larger diameter and release the water at a faster rate.
When it comes to flushing power, consider two things: the size and the shape of the trapway. In most cases, if the trapway is bigger, the toilet will have a more powerful flush. Like with the diameter, canister flush valves usually have a larger trapway, which is mainly because they are newer. Flappers have smaller trapways, but in the end, it doesn’t make a significant difference.
After testing many models, we can conclude that canister valves and flappers are equally efficient. However, there is one thing to note: while systems with flappers can have only one type of flush, systems with canister valves can have two different types of flushes. You might have heard of dual-flush toilets – they come only with canister valve systems. Obviously, dual-flush is more efficient in the long term, since it allows you to choose between two flush modes. It might not seem like a big difference, but it can easily save you a couple of hundreds of dollars each year.
Repair and Replacements
No matter if you choose a toilet with a flapper or with a canister valve, they both tend to wear down over time. Flappers are much easier to break, but unlike a canister valve, they are also easy to fix. On the other hand, a canister valve is difficult to repair, but it will last longer.
If your flapper breaks, in most cases, you would only need to replace the chain. Rarely would you need to change seals, too. However, a canister valve has a cylinder, a seal, and buttons. No matter the quality of the materials, they all tend to wear over time.
Obviously, you should always consider potential costs, no matter which product you buy. When it comes to flappers, their mechanisms are pretty simple and don’t have many parts. Due to that, flappers are usually more affordable than canister valves. However, the total price might differ only by a few bucks.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Know if the Flush Valve Is Bad?
Put simply, there are three symptoms of a bad flush valve. First, the valve might be bad if the toilet runs constantly. Also, if you flush and notice that the power has decreased, or if the toilet won’t flush at all, it’s time to replace or fix the valve. Another symptom of a bad valve is that it takes too much time for the toilet to refill.
Can I Upgrade From a Flapper to a Canister Valve?
It depends on the toilet. However, don’t be surprised if you are not able to switch from one type of flush valve to another.
How Long Should a Flush Valve Last?
A general rule of thumb is that a flush valve should last around six or seven years. On the other hand, it also depends on the quality of water and on how often you use the toilet. With this in mind, a valve might not last as long in a family with 4+ persons.
What would be your final choice? Obviously, a flapper is easier to repair and is also more affordable – which makes it an ideal choice if you want to shop on a budget. However, if you need power and efficiency, buying a toilet with a canister flush valve would be an excellent long-term investment.