Replacing a toilet can be an intimidating project to take on. However, it is relatively simple, and anyone can do it. If you’re a DIY enthusiast or eager to become one and save some money, this is the guide for you! But why would you do it? It’s of your benefit to know how a toilet works. Not only will you gain the skills and confidence, but you’ll also gain the ability to fix any toilet leak that might arise, saving you even more money in the future. Our great tips will certainly help you overcome apprehension as you install your new seating throne with the right tools and time.
Table of Contents
Essential Tools and Supplies You’ll Need
- New toilet with accessories
- Rubber gloves
- Extra wax ring as a precaution
- Measuring tape
- Sponge and a bucket
- Utility knife
- Putty knife
- Old towels
- Adjustable Wrench
- Water solidifier
- Garbage bag
- Teflon tape
- Silicone caulk
- Flange repair kit
Things to Consider Before Buying a Toilet
Remodeling, sprucing up your bathroom, or getting rid of your malfunctioning toilet? When the day comes to replace the toilet and install a new one, whatever the case, there are some things you need to consider. Measuring the rough-in is where you’d start. The toilet’s height and shape also play a vital role, considering the available space around the toilet.
It’s imperative to look for a toilet with powerful flushing ability, reliability, and ease of installation to serve you for many years to come.
- Rough-in is the distance from your existing closet flange bolts to the wall. Typically measured at 12 inches, but it’s best to double-check and save yourself from a predicament. If there’s a door near the toilet, don’t forget to measure how far the bowl extends from the wall. Elongated models with standard bowls offer greater comfort, but they can be challenging to fit in such instances. If that’s the case, you’ll be best off measuring the available space in your bathroom to accommodate a bulkier fixture.
- Toilet height plays a huge role when it comes to a comfortable seat on the toilet. Standard toilet seats are 15 inches high. There are comfort height toilets nowadays that are 17 to 19 inches high. These toilets tick the comfort box for the elderly and tall folks and are their common choice.
- Toilet shape can have a significant effect on the feel of your bathroom. A round toilet bowl would work best for limited space or powder bathrooms. If you have an extra room, the elongated toilet style will make a great addition to your bathroom. That might not always be the case, though, as a high-technology toilet can easily trump the toilet’s shape, and it would come down to your preferences.
- Color. Pick a commode that matches your overall bathroom scheme. White is generally the most common toilet color, and it fits with almost any item in the bathroom. While white toilets don’t seem to be going out of style, if you’re looking to stand out with unique commode colors, there are plenty of options available.
- New technology toilets these days have a lot to offer. From self-cleaning toilets to water-saving ones, it’s important to find the best one for your needs. Installing a water-efficient fixture will undoubtedly help you save some money and lower those water bills. If your least favorite chore is cleaning the toilet, then look for one that cleans itself on every flush. Not only will it help you save time, but it’ll prevent bacteria, mold, and mildew growth while keeping your unit stain free. If slamming seat noise gets on your nerves, there are slow closing seats available nowadays.
Removing the Existing Toilet
Step 1: Drain the Water
Open the tank’s lid, and as you flush the toilet. Hold its handle to get an extended flush that’ll help empty the toilet. Unfortunately, that won’t drain all the water out, and you’ll notice a small portion left in the tank and bowl. Use a sponge with a bucket to soak any remaining water left at the tank’s bottom. You can grind out the bowl’s water with the same method. Alternatively, to prevent water from dripping out from the toilet, use a water solidifier. All you’ll need to do is open the packet, pour it into the bowl, and it’ll make the water a crystalized gel within only a few minutes. Once the water gels, you’ll be able to remove the toilet without any leaks.
Step 2: Disconnect the Water Supply
As a rule of thumb for any plumbing project, you’ll need to turn off the water supply line. Place a bucket underneath the supply line as you disconnect it to catch dripping water out of the tank. That’s why you want to remove most of the water from the tank.
Step 3: Remove the Tank From the Bowl
Starting from top to bottom, you’ll need to undo the bolts on the bottom of the tank connecting the two pieces. Then safely remove it off the bowl and set it aside. If you have a one-piece unit that comes pre-assembled as a whole, you won’t need to deal with this step.
Step 4: Unscrew the Nuts Holding the Toilet Bowl
The next step is to remove the closet flange nuts from the closet flange bolts. Start by removing any protective caps. Set them to the side if you’re keeping the toilet. There’s typically a plastic washer or spacer, then a metal washer, and then your closet flange bolt and nut. If the bolts are still loose, you can remove them by hand or use a crescent wrench or a pair of pliers. Now here’s the deal you’ll need to do this on both sides of the toilet. If you’re having trouble with the nuts coming off, what you can do is cut the closet flange bolts with a mini hacksaw. It’s important to keep in mind that the closet flange bolts shouldn’t be super tight. Don’t overtighten them when installing the new unit, or else you’ll crack your toilet bowl.
Step 5: Remove the Bowl
Now that you’ve removed the nuts and washers, it’s time to make room for the new toilet and remove the old one. Loosen off the wax seal or caulk sealing the connection at the base. Gently start rocking the toilet bowl side to side. If there’s apparent resistance, use a putty knife and a pry bar to remove the old seal connection underneath and lift it off the bolts. Prepare the floor by wiping everything clean. You’ll also want to stuff a rag in the drain hole to help prevent sewer gases from entering your home. Be sure to remove it before installing the new toilet. Protect your floor as you set the toilet aside on a garbage bag or old towel.
Step 6: Prepare the Floor
Inspect the Flange
The flange is found under the wax ring, a round circle made from plastic or metal. So, where do most of the toilet bowl leaks happen? You’re looking at it, the closet flange! If you have a damaged or loose flange, you’ll likely end up with a rocking toilet. That’ll cause the wax ring to be distorted, essentially causing leaks. To prevent that, you’ll need to remove the old wax ring. Then perform a visual audit and look for damages as it may need to be reinforced or replaced.
Get Rid of the Old Wax Ring
Removing the wax ring is one of the most disgusting jobs. Use a putty knife to get rid of the excess wax from the flange. Next, you’ll need to remove the old closet bolts from the flange by moving them to the side as they’re placed like a nail hanging on a picture frame. Repair the flange as needed. If you have a bad stomach, it would be best to seek help as it’s not recommended that you attempt this task.
Create a Rock-Solid Anchor
Aim to have the flange on top of the tile or at least even with the finished floor. If you’re adding new flooring, keep this in mind as the flange could be too low. The toilet will leak if your flange sits below the finished floor. Taller wax rings and flange spaces allow for a proper seal to be created once the toilet is put in its place. A flange spacer goes on top of the existing flange. By applying silicone between the spacer and flange, you’ll create a seal, then secure the spacer to the foundation. Some of them are made from foam and rubber, and they can be found wax-free as well. Once you have the flange set and it’s in good condition, remove the rag, place the new bolts into the flange and have it secured.
Installing the New Toilet
Step 1: Set the Replacement Toilet on a New Wax Ring
Next, you’ll want to place a new wax ring on the closet flange. Usually, you get one with your purchase. The diminished size of the seal is the one that should be facing the toilet. That’ll help prevent the ring from falling off the bottom of the toilet bowl. Make sure to remove the rag from the drainpipe if you haven’t already. Once you have the wax ring and closet flange bolts set, slowly lower the toilet onto the closet flange. This step requires precision, and you might need some help for proper alignment. The closet flange bolts go into the toilet’s holes till the bowl meets the wax ring. Make an excellent watertight seal by compressing the toilet against the wax ring.
Step 2: Level the Toilet Bowl
If you’re a bit off and don’t have a flat floor, use shims to level the toilet bowl. Ensure the toilet is leveled. Place the level on the back of the bowl once you’ve inserted the shims. Keep in mind that wood shims shouldn’t be considered as an option for this project. Next, add the plastic washers with the metal washers going on top of them and then the nuts to the closet flange bolts. Use a wrench to properly tighten them, altering each side (don’t overtighten; it’ll crack the bowl). Use a hacksaw to cut off any exposed bolts. Once you’re done installing the nuts, check for wobbles. Insert stainless steel washers into the gaps or pennies if there are slight wobbles. When you’ve eliminated the rocking and tightened the nuts, don’t forget to cut off the shims!
Step 3: Install the Tank
Start with the rubber gasket by positioning it on the bowl and the tank right on top. Then use the provided bolts and align them with the holes in the toilet bowl. Lower the tank and hand tighten the bolts. Additionally, use a screwdriver to tighten them so more from the tank’s interior’s part, but be careful of over-tightening the bolts as the tank may crack.
Step 4: Reconnect the Water Supply and Turn it On
You’ll be best off by buying a flexible steel braided water supply line as they’re the easiest to install. They’re proven to be leak-free and look way better than the plastic ones with proper installation. Hand tighten the supply line to the toilet’s tank fill valve and shut-off valve connection. Finish the tightening with a crescent wrench, which won’t scratch the nut’s finish. Now the most frightening part is turning the water back on. Set the shut-off valve to on position and watch water fill up the tank. Inspect the connections for any leaks. If there are any leaks, you’ll likely need to take off the tank and ensure the gasket is seated correctly. Any leaks at the base with properly tightened bolts signify a wax seal issue. To avoid damaging the ring, set the toilet evenly, and install a new wax ring.
Step 5: Install the Toilet Seat
Finally, time to attach your favorite seat. Use a screwdriver and set it on the top of the tank. Use the bolts and washers included with the new toilet seat and thread them into the holes to secure the bowl’s seat.
Step 6: Seal the Toilet’s Base With Caulk
Time for the final step, sealing the base of your toilet. It’s recommended that you use the toilet for a few days to ensure there are no leaks. If everything is precisely installed and functions properly, start applying tile caulk around the toilet base and let it dry out.