Toilet Buying, Removal & Installation Guide
Buying, removing or installing a toilet doesn’t have to be an intimidating task. Whether you’re looking to replace a damaged toilet, or simply want to update your bathroom décor, all you have to do is determine which toilet is best for you, then follow the step–by–step directions below and you’ll find the removal and installation to be a quick and easy and do–it–yourself project.
Toilet Installation Hints & Tips | Toilet Repair & Maintenance
Reasons to Replace Your Toilet
There are three main reasons why a new toilet may be necessary:
- Your toilet is broken or isn’t working properly. The porcelain may be cracked or chipped, it may just look older than you like, or your toilet may not stop running, or may not flush at all.
- You are updating your décor and want a toilet to match the new look or feel of your bathroom. Most toilets look fairly similar, but if you want to complete a certain look, a new toilet can make a difference.
- You are doing your part for the environment (and your wallet). Older toilets (30+ years old) use a tremendous amount of water per flush and should be replaced. Not only is it better for the environment, you will definitely notice a difference in your water bill.
What Toilet is Right for You?
It may seem like all toilets are the same, but there are a few distinct differences you should keep in mind when making your purchase:
Size – Find out what size toilet you need. Most toilets are roughly the same size, but it’s still a good idea to measure your existing toilet and tank just to be sure. You may want to look for a bowl that has the same or larger "footprint". This will cover any discoloration or chipped floor tiles that may have occurred over the years.
Style – Now, decide on the style you prefer. Most toilets are two–piece (tank plus bowl), though there are also one–piece models that are easier to install as you do not have a separate tank to attach. One–piece toilets are generally more expensive and are significantly heavier, but have a cleaner look you may prefer. Neutral colours such as white work best because they fit any décor.
Efficiency – An increasing number of toilets are becoming more water–efficient, which may be something to consider. Most toilets hold 6 litres, but high–efficiency ones, known as HETs use less than 4.8 litres per flush. High–efficiency toilets are more cost–effective and easier on the environment. Many municipalities now offer a rebate program where you can receive $40–$200 towards your purchase of a high–efficiency toilet.
Toilet Removal & Installation – A Step–By–Step Guide
Replacing and Installing a toilet is a great starter job for the beginner handyperson. Replacement is surprisingly easy, shouldn’t take very long and doesn’t require many tools.To begin, make sure you have the following:
- A new toilet and tank, with all hardware (nuts, bolts, washers, nut caps)
- Large flat–head screwdriver
- Adjustable wrench (2)
- Putty knife
- Kitchen and bathroom caulk or plumber’s putty
- Standard level
- Bucket and sponge
- Wood/rubber shims
- Old rags and/or newspapers
- Before removing or installing a toilet, turn the water off at the shutoff valve or at your house’s shutoff valve. Flush the toilet to empty the bowl/tank, and bail or sponge out any remaining water from the bowl and tank. Disconnect the water–supply tube from the shutoff valve. There will be water remaining in the tube, so drain it from the tube into a bucket, then unscrew the coupling nut on the supply tube at the bottom of the tank.
- Remove the tank by using a wrench to unscrew the nuts on the bolts, while using a screwdriver inside the tank to hold the screw heads. Lift the tank off the toilet and discard.
- To remove the toilet, use a screwdriver to pry the nut caps off the bolts at the toilet base, then use an adjustable wrench to remove the nuts on the floor bolts. A hacksaw may be needed to cut the bolts if they are corroded. Gently rock the bowl from side to side to break the seal between the bowl and the floor, then lift the bowl up, making sure not to spill any remaining water.
- Stuff a rag into the drainpipe to prevent any sewer gases from escaping, and scrape any wax gasket remains from the floor flange using an old putty knife. If the old floor flange or bolts are damaged, replace them. The bottom of your old toilet may have some wax on it as well, so place it on a newspaper to protect your carpet or flooring.
- Carefully turn your new toilet bowl upside down and place it on some blankets or newspapers to avoid scratching or damaging it. Place a wax gasket over the hole (called the horn) at the bottom of the bowl, facing the tapered side away from the bowl.
- Place the floor bolts in the slot on the toilet flange (one on each side) setting them in position to receive the bowl. Remove the rag from the drainpipe and invert the toilet bowl over the drain, making sure to carefully line up with the floor bolts previously put in place. Push down on the toilet to ensure a tight seal.
- Place the large metal washers over the bolts and then the plastic bolt cap discs with the correct side up as noted on the discs. This will allow the bolt caps to snap in place after you have tightened the nut. As you tighten the nuts, use a level and shims if necessary to make sure the toilet is straight and not rocking.
- Now, attach the tank to the bowl by positioning it over the toilet after you have placed the large rubber tank–to–bowl gasket on the threaded outlet.
- Put the tank–to–bowl bolts in place and tighten the nuts and washers. Hook up the supply tube and open the shutoff valve.
- Apply a thin bead of kitchen and bathroom caulk around the toilet base if you wish.
That’s it! If everything went according to plan, you should be able to flush your new toilet without any leaks, although you should give everything a really thorough once–over (both in the bathroom and below) to ensure all components are working properly.
Toilet Installation Hints & Tips
- If you can’t easily lift up to 100lbs (the weight of a toilet/tank), it may be a good idea to recruit a helper.
- Toilets are made out of porcelain, which can’t be compressed. If you over - tighten the nuts and crack or chip the porcelain, it can’t be repaired. Hand-tight is plenty.
- The nut caps may have to be trimmed, which can be done easily using snips or heavy-duty scissors.
- Using a dropcloth to protect your bathroom floor is a good idea, as you don’t want to scratch it while removing or installing your toilet.
- Most toilets do not come with a seat, so be sure to buy a new one or save your old one.
Toilet Repair & Maintenance
In many instances, it’s possible to simply repair or replace an element of your toilet instead of replacing the whole thing. This can prove to be more cost-effective and may be easier, depending on the job. Some common repairs include:
Replacing the Flush Lever Handle
- The handle is held in place by a nut that is secured against the wall of the tank. It’s located where the handle comes in from outside of the tank.
- Use an adjustable wrench to loosen the nut. In most cases this thread is the reverse of what you would expect – clockwise on and counter clockwise off.
- Remove the nut and slide the handle out through the hole in the tank wall.
- Slide the new handle in place and tighten the nut securely.
Replacing the Flapper Valve
- First, shut off the water and empty the toilet and tank.
- It’s important to ensure you get the same flapper as the one currently in your toilet, so your best bet is to remove it and bring it to the store.
- Simply lift the old flapper off the hooks to remove it, and put the new one in its place.
- Remember to turn the water supply back on.
Replacing a Water Control Valve
- This procedure is used to replace either arm valves, or float (pilot) valves
- Once again, start by draining the water from the toilet.
- Find the large nut at the base of the water control valve and loosen it, then remove the entire mechanism.
- As with the flapper valve, it’s important to replace the mechanism with the same style, so bring the old one to the store with you.
- The new mechanism can be installed the way the old one came out – fix it in place with the nut, ensuring not to over-tighten as this plastic nut can crack easily.