Leon Osman struck the winner on his 400th Everton appearance as the Blues extended their unbeaten run against West Ham United to 14 games.
Not since April 2007, had the Hammers been able to break the Toffees and the veteran Osman - boosted by a new one-and-a-half year deal earlier this month - turned in 16 minutes from time to ensure that trend continued.
It came after Romelu Lukaku had earlier fired Roberto Martinez's men in front, only for substitute Mauro Zarate to level with a fortuitous strike.
The victory also saw the return of winger Kevin Mirallas after a two-month absence through injury, while Everton moved up to eighth in the Barclays Premier League table, level on 18 points with Arsenal above them.
However, with a number of injury problems already giving Roberto Martinez headaches, the sight of Steven Naismith being stretchered off late on was a sour note on which to end an otherwise joyous afternoon.
As well as Mirallas, Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy were passed fit to start at Goodison Park, though Leighton Baines and Gareth Barry missed out.
Tony Hibbert came in at left-back, while Osman stepped in for Barry to become the 16th player in Everton history to conquer the four-ton landmark in terms of first-team appearances.
There were early half chances for both sides but Andy Carroll - starting a game for the first time this season - headed over from Aaron Cresswell's left-wing cross and Lukaku's drive from the edge of the box was comfortably dealt with by Adrian in the West Ham goal.
Then, on 18 minutes, the Blues should have gone in front. Osman brilliantly threaded the ball through to Coleman, finding the Republic of Ireland international in acres of space down the right. In turn, Coleman found Naismith free in the box but the usually-lethal Scot lent back as he fired goalwards, his shot subsequently rising high over the Park End bar.
Everton were turning the screw and after more good work from Osman, Naismith saw a drilled cross flash across the face of goal on 23 minutes.
Yet, it took just three minutes more for the pressure to bring its reward.
One touch football got the ball from McCarthy to Naismith to Ross Barkley, and when the England man's shot was blocked by Winston Reid, Lukaku was perfectly placed to sweep up possession and lash past Adrian from close range.
Carroll scooped another effort over on 33 minutes and, from the next attack, Lukaku had the ball in the net for the second time. Racing Barkley to a ball played in behind the Hammers' defence, Lukaku got there first and steered home. The offside flag went up, much to Barkley's frustration, though replays suggested both players had strayed beyond the last man.
Before half-time, a McCarthy tackle on Morgan Amalfitano sparked some pushing and shoving in front of the Goodison dugouts, with Reid and Mark Noble taking particular issue with the Blues midfielder. When the dust finally settled, the result was no free-kick but yellow cards for both McCarthy and Reid.
The second half started with something of a whimper and, having failed to trouble the Toffees for any prolonged spells in the first 45 minutes, Sam Allardyce opted for a double change just five minutes after the break. Matt Jarvis came on for the limping Noble, while Zarate replaced Carlton Cole.
And just four minutes later it was the Argentine, Zarate, who levelled with the most luck-laden effort.
First, his attempted one-two with Amalfitano bounced back into his path off the heel of Hibbert, then his low shot from 18 yards slipped through the legs of Jagielka and looped up off the skipper's heel and over the stranded Howard.
A Mirallas tackle on that man Amalfitano then led emotions to temporarily boil over again and the irate Tomkins received a booking from referee Mark Clattenburg for seemingly making too much of a shove from Everton's Belgian.
Looking to restore their lead, the Blues' next opening arrived just after the hour mark but Lukaku fired wide from a tight angle after being played in by Naismith.
Martinez responded by changing up his attack, sending on Samuel Eto'o for Mirallas and putting the Camerooninan in behind Lukaku, with Barkley down the right and Naismith on the left.
West Ham, however, seemed rejuvenated by their goal. Fourth in the table going into this clash, they momentarily rediscovered their spark as first Howard had to tip away a skidding shot from Amalfitano, then Jarvis darted down the left and steered a shot into the American's side-netting.
But then came Osman's moment. Breaking quickly, Lukaku appeared to be fouled by Collins in the build-up but did enough to pick out the run of Eto'o down the right. Clattenburg signalled advantage and the substitute took it, sliding the ball across goal and putting it on a plate for his teammate to mark his landmark appearance with a 56th Everton goal.
Howard may have known little about it but was perfectly placed to block when Jarvis' shot was poked goalwards by Collins soon after, while - predictably - there were a few high balls for the American to contend with late on. He did so ably.
Muhamed Besic replaced Barkley for the final 11 minutes before Christian Atsu came on when Naismith was carried off two minutes from time.
Eto'o spurned a golden opportunity to extend the scoreline in the dying moments but he wasn't made to pay. Martinez's men now head to Wolfsburg high on confidence looking for the point they need to secure progression from Europa League Group H.