Replacing a Toilet: What You Need to Know


It’s true that removing and replacing a toilet is an intimidating project to undertake. Some homeowners, however, do sometimes attempt to carry out the task on their own. So long as you are not trying to replace and move piping (for that, you should rely on an experienced plumber), this may be a project that can be done on the weekend. You should know what you’re getting into before you begin, though.  When it comes down to it, whether or not you will be able to successfully install a new commode depends on your personal skill level and how well you understand the process. So, let’s take a look at what is involved in removing and replacing a toilet:

Step 1:  Get to Know Your Toilet.  Before you get started, take a moment to familiarize yourself with your toilet’s anatomy.  Do you know what the tank is?  Do you know where the water connection is?  Do you have all of the right nuts and bolts? If you’re already feeling overwhelmed by these questions, stop what you’re doing and give us a call.

Step 2:  Prep Your Work Area.  This certainly won’t be an entirely clean operation, so make sure you lay down some rags and/or newspaper.  Once you remove your old toilet, you’ll want to set it down on these pre-prepared areas so that you don’t dirty your floor.  While you prep, you should also make certain that your new toilet is going to fit inside of the space that your old toilet occupied.  Unfortunately, toilets don’t come one-size-fits-all, so make sure that you’ve measured properly.  

Step 3:  Drain the Water.  Before you attempt to remove your current toilet, be sure to shut off the water supply. Once disconnected, flush your toilet several times in order to drain out all water.  Some water may remain in the bowl itself.  If it does, simply grab a container to scoop it out.  

Step 4:  Disconnect Your Toilet & Remove.  To do this, you’ll need to unscrew the nuts and bolts that attach it to your water supply line, and don’t forget about the ones hidden under any caps.  Once those are unscrewed, you’ll want to loosen the seal between the bowl and the floor.  You can do this by using a utility knife to score the area. Once free, simply lift the toilet away onto those areas you’ve prepared with rags or newspapers, remove the wax gasket, and block the drainpipe with a rag to prevent sewer gasses from escaping into your home.  

Step 5:  Position Your New Toilet.  Once in position, insert your new wax gasket (as well as any other wax rings that need to be replaced) onto the toilet bowl outlet.  Make sure that the tapered side of the gasket is facing away from the bowl for a tight seal.

Step 6:  Caulk the Base of the Toilet.  Secure your new toilet into place by applying a bed of caulk to the base.  Then, remove the drainpipe rag, and lower the bowl into place.  Press down, and let it set.  

Step 7:  Fasten the Bowl.  Replace all of the nuts, bolts and washers, gently tightening them for a secure fit.

Step 8:  Secure the New Tank.  Once the bowl is securely in place, set the tank.  Position the tank over the bowl, and lower it into place.  Then, insert the bolts through the base of the tank.  Secure and attach the tank by fastening all nuts, bolts and washers.  Once in place, you can put the lid on it.     

Step 9:  Connect the New Toilet.  Now that everything’s in place, reconnect the supply line between the shut-off valve and the fill valve.  Once all nuts and bolts are secure, you’re ready to turn the water supply back on.   

Step 10:  Seal the Toilet to the Floor.  To finish the job off, simply apply caulk along the bottom of the toilet, sealing it to the floor, then smooth it out for a clean finish.  

As long as you know a little about how your toilet works, you should be all set to go. Unfortunately, professionals in just about every skilled trade see DIY projects go wrong on a regular basis. We certainly don’t wish this for your bathroom makeover, but if you find yourself in a bind, give us a ring. We always look forward to helping you, and we have made it our mission to ensure that your home’s plumbing is done right – every time.


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