Replacing a Toilet Part One

By HHr Staff ~ Colbyt

This article, part 1 covers tools, preparation and old toilet removal.

Replacing a toilet is a job well within the ability of most DYI people. It doesn't take any special tools and most people can perform the job in 1-2 hours.

This article is based on US standards and materials. If you aren't in the US these sizes and measurements may not be correct for your situation.

Tool list:
7/16" and 1/2" open end wrenches
A medium adjustable wrench (to 1 1/4")
A good strong flat blade screwdriver
A putty knife
Hacksaw and metal blade
2' level
A tub or container at least as big as the toilet base
Short bucket or tub to catch the tank water
A few old towels and or paper towels
Disposable latex gloves

Materials list:
I usually buy everything on this list and return the extras
1 set of closet bolts
4-6 rubber shims. You may need them
A set of tank bolts (maybe 2 if your tank has 3 bolts)
Or 2-3 extra brass nuts, rubber washers and metal washers for the tank bolts
A new toilet supply line, your choice of style
2 Wax rings with sleeve and one without sleeve (just in case)

It is always a good ideal to unpack the new toilet and make sure nothing is broken or missing before you rip out the old one. Set the tank top aside well out traffic patterns as these are easy to break.

Removing the old toilet:
The removal of the old toilet is the harder part of the job. Chances are if there is to be a problem this is where it will occur. Most removals and installations come off without a hitch so in this article we aren't going to discuss potential problems but just in case we have written a second article called "What to do when your toilet installation goes wrong". You may want to review both articles before you start your project.

Shut off the water to the toilet. Normally there is a cutoff valve located on the left side of the toilet. Then drain as much water as possible from the tank by depressing and holding the flush handle. You will never get all the water out of the tank or the bowl. For the tank portion you can either place towels in there to absorb the water or you can try to catch it when you disconnect the piping.

Loosen the connection at the bottom of the tank and remove the 2 or 3 nuts on the tank bolts securing the tank to the bowl. The tank portion should now lift off the bowl. This step is optional, but it sure saves the back and makes moving the old toilet a lot easier.

At the base of the toilet bowl there should be two plastic caps which are covering the nuts and bolts (closet bolts) that secure the bowl to the toilet flange. How these are attached has evolved over the years. It almost all cases they just pop off when a gentle prying action is used around their rim. You should now see a 1/4" bolt and a nut with a washer under it. To remove the bowl just remove the two nuts and lift the toilet straight up to clear the bolts and then place it in the tub to catch any water that may drain.

There is going to be this ugly sticky mess on the flange and floor. As nasty as it looks, it is just wax; the remains of the old wax ring. All that goop and the plastic sleeve which may still be inserted in the flange must be removed. I usually save 2 golf ball sized chunks of the cleaner part of it to pack the new closet bolts into the flange. The rest gets scraped up and off into paper towels to be discarded in the trash. Some closet bolts come with a sleeve that holds the bolt upright and packing the flange is not required with those bolts.

A quick side note about the flange; the top should be no lower than level with the finished floor and it may be raised above the floor about 1/4". If it is lower than the floor you may need a flange shim to raise the level for a proper seal.

Part 2 explains the bowl installation.
Part 3 explains the tank installation and final steps.


More in Bathrooms:

Five Considerations for your Next Bathroom Remodel.........Read More
Bathroom Renovation-The Second Most Valuable Area.........Read More
Replacing a Toilet Part Two.........Read More
Replacing a Toilet Part Three.........Read More


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