How to Remove and Replace a Toilet

Removing a toilet and installing a new one is not that hard. Follow all the necessary steps and you’ll be on your way to a new bathroom.

Replacing an existing toilet is a straightforward task because the supply and waste pipes are already in position. If you want to install a toilet in a new position, it requires more complex rerouting that is best done by a professional plumber.

Learn About the Anatomy of a Toilet

The standard toilet design, where the tank sits on top of the back of the bowl, is popular because it is so compact and simple to install.

Lay Out Rags and Newspaper

Before you begin gather the right equipment. You will need newspapers or old towels to set the toilet on after you remove it. A mistakenly dropped toilet could crack a ceramic tile floor. Also, make sure the new toilet fits inside the space occupied by the old toilet. Some newer models are available in longer and larger sizes than traditional designs and may not fit within the room.

Drain the Water

Shut off the water supply to the toilet. After the water supply is disconnected, flush the toilet several times. Flushing repeatedly will remove the water from inside the tank and most of the water from the bowl. If there is any water left in the bowl, use a container to scoop it all out. If you leave any water in the old toilet it may leak out when you carry it through your home to dispose of it.

Disconnect the Toilet

Unscrew the nuts that attach the toilet to the water supply line. Then, remove the caps that cover the bolts on the base of the toilet. Unscrew the nuts located under the caps.

Loosen the Seal

Use a utility knife to score the between the bowl and the floor and then free the toilet by rocking it from side to side. Lift the toilet away onto some old towels or newspaper. Remove the wax gasket using a putty knife or similar tool. Block the drainpipe with a rag to prevent sewer gas escaping.

Position the New Bowl

Insert a new wax gasket on the outlet of the new bowl. The tapered side faces away from the bowl. Double check that the toilet flange is tight and not corroded. The toilet flange helps make a tight connection between the toilet and the waste pipe. The flange sits on top of the floor and connects to a collar that fits through the floor. Historically the flange was secured in place with putty, but today there are several plastic flange gaskets to choose from.

Replace Wax Ring

There are also several type of wax rings. Some have a plastic insert that is used to direct water flow (Image 1). A wax gasket with an insert #10 is thicker, which provides a good connection when remodeling the bathrooms in older homes or if the flange is set low (Image 2). For most situations, wax gaskets without plastic inserts (Image 3) can provide a suitable seal against sewer gases.

Apply Caulk and Set

Apply a bead of caulk to the base of the toilet. Remove the rag from the drainpipe. Lower the bowl into place on top of the flange and press down.

Fasten Bowl to Floor

Gently tighten the washers and nuts onto the bolts. Tightening too hard can crack the porcelain.

Level It Out and Cover Bolts

Use plastic toilet shims if the toilet is not level. Fill the caps with plumber’s putty and place the caps over the bolts.

Set the New Tank

Insert the tank bolts through the base of the tank. Position the tank over the bowl and lower it gently into place.

Attach Tank to Bowl

Secure the nuts and washers to attach the bowl to the tank. Make sure the tank is level.

Put a Lid On It

When the tank is level, set the tank lid on top of the tank. Do not seal the joint between the lid and the tank.

Connect the Toilet

Connect the supply line between the shut-off valve and the fill valve.

Tighten the Compression Nut

To finish connecting the toilet to the water supply, tighten the compression nut and then open the shut-off valve.

Apply Caulk

Run a bead of bathroom caulk along the bottom of the toilet. This seals the joint between the toilet and the floor.

Smooth It Out

Using a wetted finger, smooth the bead of caulk along the joint for a clean finish.

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