How to Replace Your Toilet?


Every homeowner will need to replace a toilet during their tenure as a ” happy homeowner“. Yes, you can easily contact the local plumber and subcontract them to replace the toilet for you. However, the actual physical process of replacing a toilet is extremely simple and easily performed. Do not be intimidated by the idea or the assumed difficulty of the situation. Most plumbers or handymen will detail the difficulties to ensure their importance in the matter. Go ahead and just replace the toilet yourself!

What conditions will require the need to replace a toilet?

1.) The toilet was purchased during a time when ” color ” was the thing! You have just purchased a home, and all of the toilets are blue, pink or another trendy color. This might be a good reason to replace the toilet!

2.) The toilet bowl is stained and beyond the reach of any of the more intense methods of cleaning. You have tried the denture tablet process of placing a tablet of denture cleansing material into the toilet bowl as suggested by the DIY individuals, and it does NOT work. It might be time to change the toilet?

3.) There are cracks or areas of deterioration on the existing toilet. There could be cracks in the bowl or tank. It is obvious that the toilet should be replaced to present a more contemporary and modern look to the bathroom.

4.) It is simply time to replace all of the toilets in the home. You have now decided that the 1960’s home was the ultimate, when you purchased it, now it is time for an upgrade to modernize the look of the bathrooms.

You have now decided that it is time to replace the toilet, what are the steps to be taken to perform this maintenance task?

1.) Turn off the water supply to the toilet. This is normally a small valve that is located on the left hand side of the toilet at the bottom. In most instances the valve is on a rigid piece of tubing that is either extending out of the wall or up from the floor. If in doubt, simply find the primary water valve for the home and close it. It is better to suffer without water for the small time it takes to replace the toilet, than to chance a leak or uncontrolled running water.

2.) Flush the toilet. This flush should reduce the amount of water in the tank at the back of the toilet as well as reduce the amount of water in the actual bowl. If needed, do not hesitate to repeatedly flush, until the majority of water has drained from the toilet and the tank. Remove the cover off the top of the toilet tank. In all situations, this top is simply placed on the top of the toilet tank located at the back of the toilet. Normally this top is porcelain and very easy to remove.

3.) Using a large sponge or a heavy bath towel, absorb any water that is remaining in the tank of the toilet, as well as the toilet bowl. Make sure to eliminate as much of the water as possible. It is much better to drain and sponge as much water as possible, prior to removing the toilet.

4.) There are usually two fasteners on either side of the toilet bowl and the tank of the toilet. These fasteners are accessed from the inside of the tank, at the bottom. Normally there are two nuts and washers that are located under the toilet bowl, that will need to be held as the bolts are removed by access from the inside of the toilet bowl. In most cases, the heads of the bolts in the toilet tank are normal slot head bolts that can be turned with a large standard slot screwdriver. These two bolts are not overly tight or difficult to remove. If this is not the case, cut the bolt itself with a hack saw that is specially designed to cut metal. The removal of the tank from the bowl will enhance your ability to remove, first the tank, and secondly the bowl. Trying to remove both sections of the toilet while still connected will be difficult and awkward, normally resulting in dropping or loosing stability of the toilet.

5.) Once the tank is separated from the toilet bowl, there are two additional attachments at the bottom of the bowl, which attaches the toilet to the floor. Remove the nuts that secure the bowl to the floor. Again, this is usually an easy task and in most cases, can be accomplished with the use of a large pair of pliers or channel locks. Channel locks are a type of pliers that are designed to allow adjustment by a simple sliding of the hinged jaw connections.

6.) Once the toilet bowl is free of the two floor attachments, the toilet bowl should be lifted off from the securing floor bolts. Care should be taken when removing the toilet bowl due to the water that remains in the toilet bowl itself. Remove the toilet straight up without tipping the toilet bowl. Remove the bowl to the exterior where it can be tilted to eliminate all of the water from the bowl. Make sure that the removal of the toilet is controlled, do not tip the toilet or risk the spilling of whatever water remains in the toilet bowl.

7.) In most cases, the old toilet can be disposed of at the local recycling center or broken up by hitting the toilet with a heavy hammer and cracking the porcelain of the toilet.

8.) Once the toilet has been removed from its positon in the bathroom, you will observe, two attachment bolts or holes in the top of the sanitary drain as well as a very interesting wax like material at the top of the sanitary connection. This is what is called the “ wax ring” . The connection between the toilet outlet and the inlet to the sanitary connection is what is referred to as the “wax ring”. This is not a magical connection that connects the toilet to the discharge. It is simply a circle of thick wax that is installed between the toilet and the sanitary connection. Although the concept appears very rudimentary, what happens is that a wax ring is placed on the top of the sanitary line, prior to the installation of the toilet. This wax ring will make a watertight connection between the toilet and the sanitary line. This old wax ring must be removed by scrapping the old wax off the top of the sanitary line. Carefully clean the old wax ring, or what is left of it, from the top of the sanitary line. This is important to allow the new wax ring to properly seat and ensure a watertight seal.

9.) Place the new wax ring over the sanitary connection in the floor. You will see that the majority of replacement wax rings will come with a rubber type of flange that will properly seat the ring around the opening of the sanitary line. Carefully position the wax ring into the sanitary line connection, understanding that you will drop the new toilet down onto the top of this ring to make a watertight connection.

10.) Carefully maneuvering the new toilet bowl onto the wax ring and position the toilet bowl in a manner that will allow the bolts from the top of the sanitary flange to insert into the holes in the base of the new toilet bowl. This procedure is somewhat awkward do to the weight of the toilet bowl as well as the necessity to properly position the bowl over the ring as well as the bolts. If you can find a volunteer to help you with this procedure, it is much easier with an assistant.

11.) Once the bowl is properly placed on the top of the wax ring and the bolts gently move the toilet bowl down on the wax ring to ensure a watertight connection. This should be done gently and with an understanding that the goal is a watertight connection.

12.) Once the bowl is properly positioned, install the washers and nuts to secure the toilet bowl to the floor and the sanitary flange. DO NOT overtighten anything. Remember you are dealing with a porcelain material that is strong, but not flexible, it will crack if tightened too much!

13.) One the toilet bowl is secured to the floor; place the water tank on the back of the toilet bowl. Again, DO NOT overtighten the bolts that will connect the tank with the bowl. This is a very good way to snap the porcelain of the toilet bowl; therefore it is very important that you are extremely careful and gentle with the connection between the toilet bowl and the water tank.

14.) Once the toilet bowl and the tank have been properly set and the bolts tightened moderately, the top of the tank can be placed on the top of the water tank and the toilet seat installed. If the new toilet did not come with the seat attached, there are two bolted connections on the back of the seat that will need to be tightened, to secure the seat. Again DO NOT overtighten the bolts, the porcelain will crack.

15.) Connect the bottom of the tank to the cold waterline that you had disconnected from the old toilet. It is a great ideal to replace the flexible hose that leads from the primary water supply to the underside of the toilet tank at this time. Due to the fact that you are replacing the toilet, it is always a good idea to replace as much of the miscellaneous plumbing as possible.

That is about it, there isn’t much more that can be said for replacing a toilet. Although the plumbers and handyman of the world will try to convince you otherwise, the replacement of a typical toilet is not a difficult procedure. It is important to work carefully and slowly, remembering that a toilet is constructed of a very brittle and easily broken material, therefore all connections should be performed carefully and with the knowledge that you are working with a very brittle material.

There are instances that two wax rings maybe required to properly seal the bottom of the toilet. This is unusual and if this becomes an issue, then that means the floor is either out of line or the sanitary flange that has been installed in the floor is not properly aligned with the floor. If you have leaks with the use of one wax ring, then try a second. If the second wax ring does not seal the connection, then a professional will have to be contracted to solve the issue. This is a very rare situation and does not occur very often.

Do not be intimidated, that toilet is easily replaced, go for it!