How to Replace a Toilet- DIY


Remodeling your own bathroom isn’t as hard or as bad as it sounds- until you come to replacing the toilet. It’s okay to clean it, but pick it up and carry it outside- Ewwww!
It really isn’t as bad as all that. With just a few tips, you can do the job in less than an hour. Everything is available at your local DIY store.

You will need:

• A toilet, naturally

• Wax ring

• Closet bolts (sometimes included with the wax ring- read the package)

• Pliers or wrench

• Penetrating oil, such as WD-40 or Liquid Wrench

• Mini-hacksaw, if needed

• Putty knife

• Measuring tape

• Cardboard and masking tape

• Notebook and pen

• Toilet seat lid

• Flushing mechanism kit, if not included

• Caulk

• Plumbers putty

• Toilet shims

• Bolt caps, if not included

• A Level

Step One:

This is the easy part. Go to the bathroom and get some measurements. Measure the height of the toilet seat with the lid raised. Record this in the notebook. Measure the length of the toilet from the back of the tank to the front, and the width of the tank and the seat bowl.

Measure from the wall to the closet bolts. Those are the two bolts holding the toilet to the floor. Place a star or something around this measurement. It’s the most important one. It’s called the “rough-in” measurement.

Now measure the space available around the toilet if you wish to replace it with something bigger or wider. There’s no frustration like getting the new one home, out of the box and finding out it won’t fit.

Step Two:

Examine the existing closet bolts. If they’re rusted, give them a good coating of penetrating oil. Let that work while you’re at the hardware store.

Sometimes the bolts come off easily, sometimes not. Be prepared for not, especially in older homes.

Go shopping. Take your notebook and measuring tape with you. Don’t be dismayed by all the prices, styles and colors. You’ll find there are low-flow toilets in every possible height, width and shape to suit your décor ideas.

Toilets are available with low seats for children, high seats for tall people, wide and sturdy seats for heavy people, and special designs for the handicapped and elderly are also made.

Prices range from under $50 and up.

Look at the boxes for the models you choose. Remember that “rough-in” measurement? Here’s where you use it. If the measurement on the box doesn’t match, you might want to pass. It will also tell you what size of wax ring to buy.

A device called an offset flange may work. For example, some older houses have as much as a 14- inch rough in for the old toilets, while newer toilets may be 10 or twelve inches. The offset flange will allow the new toilet to be installed easily. The DIY associate will be happy to tell you how. If the job is going to involve cutting the lead pipe lining or replacing sewer pipe, you may want to call a plumber to have the new flange installed.

Once you’ve made your selection and gathered everything, it’s time to proceed to the next step.

Step Three:

Removing the old toilet, for the most part, isn’t that hard.

Turn the water off at the shut off valve.

Flush the toilet to clear the tank of water.

Use old towels or sponges to soak up all the water so you don’t have a mess.

Remove the water supply line from the bottom of the toilet tank.

Remove the closet bolts.

Take the tank lid off and move it outside.

Using the putty knife, carefully remove the caulk around the bottom of the toilet. Be careful not to damage the floor. You can protect the floor by taping the cardboard down.

Working slowly, rock the toilet back and forth to remove it from the old wax ring.

Lift the toilet out. If you need to remove the tank to do this, the bolts are under the tank at the back.

Dispose of the old toilet properly.

Stuff some old rags into the sewer opening to stop the gasses from escaping.

Remove the old wax ring, and scrape away any old plumber’s putty.

If the closet flange- the ring you’ll attach the bolts to is broken, repair rings and pieces are available at the DIY store. Unfortunately, you won’t know if they’re broken until you take the toilet out. Fortunately, they’re not expensive at all.

Step Four:

Working in reverse, get out your plumber’s putty and work some in your hands. Place it under and around the flange.

Insert the closet bolts and use a dab of plumber’s putty to help them stay up straight when you place the toilet down on them. They do like to fall over and frustrate people.

Turn the toilet bowl upside down. Take the wax ring out of its package and handle it gently. Following the “top” and “bottom” marks, place it over the drain hole of the toilet bowl.

Here’s the fun part. Lift the toilet tank over the closet bolts and ease it down so the closet bolts come up through the mounting holes. Gently push the toilet down into place, taking care not to mush it down from side to side.

The wax ring is going to smoosh out, filling all the gaps and holes so water goes down the sewer pipe instead of onto your floor.

Use the level and make sure the bowl sits level on the floor. Use the toilet shims to ensure the bowl is indeed level.

Place the washers over the bolts and thread a nut onto each. Using the pliers or wrench, tighten the bolts until the toilet is secure. Place the lid on the toilet seat and sit down. Really- that’s part of it. Sit down so your weight helps seat the wax ring. Now get up and readjust the bolt nuts. Check for level again.

Using the hacksaw, cut the bolts off about an inch high and install the nut caps. They simply snap on.

Remove the toilet tank from the package and seat over the mounting holes. Following the directions, make sure all the plastic washers are in place to stop any leaks. Tighten the mounting bolts.

If the toilet came with the flush kit inside, wonderful. If not, take the flush kit out of it’s box and mount it inside the tank. It takes less than 10 minutes.

Attach the supply hose to the bottom of the toilet tank and turn the supply valve on to check for leaks. If there are none, install the toilet seat, put the top on and you’re done.

For any leaks, turn the water off, clean up the water and apply plumber’s putty under the plastic washers. Cover screw threads with plumber’s tape or plumbers Teflon goop. Both fill any gaps in screw threads.

Turn the water on again.

You’re done. See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? It’s really not hard to do this job, unless the bolts are rusted completely through. Then you do what you have to to get the toilet out.

Remember, you can always call a plumber.


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