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Toilet Installation: A How-To Guide For Homeowners

how to install a toilet redoing bathroom

Most homeowners do not know how to install a toilet. Part of it is many think the process is “icky.” Some of it is that the process is intimidating. While there is not much one can do about the former, there is no reason to be intimidated.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install a toilet.

Measure for a New Toilet

how to install a toilet measuring toilet

Start by measuring the toilet from the base of the wall to the toilet bolts. A standard toilet (which is what you want) will measure 12 inches. If your measurement is longer than 12 inches, you will need to look for a custom, larger or longer model.

If your existing toilet is not standard, the easiest way to ensure you get the right size is to take your measurements to a home improvement store and ask for help. The staff can help you identify the right size new toilets you should consider.

Do I need to spend a lot of money on a new toilet?

“A lot of money” is subjective. You might pay a lot up front, but when you consider that you will use a toilet every day, multiple times a day, and so will your family and visitors to your home, that upfront cost is not all that much.

The average cost of a standard toilet runs between $100 and $600. A pressure-assisted model will cost you between $200 and $600. If that cost range does not suit you, you can usually save money by looking for a used toilet in very good shape on social media marketplace platforms.

Removing An Old and Installing a New Toilet

Once you have the toilet you want at home, you are ready for installation. Here are the steps you need to follow.

Necessary Tools and Materials

Every DIY project requires some tools. To remove a toilet and install a new toilet, you will need the following:

how to install a toilet using the right tools
  • Putty knife (also called a utility knife)
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Scraper
  • Toilet flange (maybe) and new wax ring (if none comes with your new toilet)
  • Water supply line (possibly)
  • Toilet shims
  • Toilet bowl
  • Toilet tank
  • Wax ring (also called a wax seal)
  • Toilet seat and seat cover
  • Tank bolts, seals, toilet bolts (also called closet bolts or an anchor bolt head), stainless steel screws, stainless steel washers
  • Toilet “guts” (for inside the tank including the flushing lever, stop valve, stop valve connector, connection bar, flush Valve gasket, refill tube, ball float, and chain)

Ensure that your kit has each component. Some toilets come assembled, and some require you to do most of the assembly work. Follow the directions for proper assembly.

Turn Off the Water Supply

Find the water supply valve, and turn it to the right. Wither newer toilets, you need to give it a quarter turn, while with older models, you might need to turn the valve several times. Hand-tighten the valve. Do not use tools, as they can damage the valve.

Flush the Toilet and Loosen The Supply Line

how to install a toilet turning off supply line

Once the water supply line is off, flush the toilet. When the tank water level is low, loosen the hose at the supply line.

Do not loosen the hose at the opposite end at the base of the toilet. If you have a leaky valve, stop what you are doing and retighten the hose. At this point, your best bet will be to call a professional plumber.

Drain and Remove The Toilet

Use a paper cup or towel to sop the remaining water in the bowl and tank. Get as much water out as possible, so you do not have to lift as much.

Place a sheet of cardboard next to the old toilet. Loosen and remove the toilet bolt on each side of the toilet bowl. Straddle the and grip it by the base of the seat in the back. Lift the old toilet and place it on the cardboard.

Remove and Replace the Toilet Wax Ring

Using your putty knife and scraper, remove all of the old wax ring that you can. Some wax ring residue might remain, but you want most of it to come off.

Chances are you can use the existing flange. Put the old wax on the cardboard next to the old toilet. Follow the directions and install the new wax ring on the flange.

Prep the Floor and New Unit

Clean up around the flange and where the base of the old toilet sat. Scrape any debris from the old toilet or flange.

The area around the flange does not have to be pristine, but you want it to be clean. Attach the new seat by putting the plastic bolts through the bowl’s seat holes and tightening the plastic nut on each side.

How To Position and Install A Toilet Bowl

Place your new bolts (closet bolts) in the slot on the closet flange and line up the holes on the side of the new toilet bowl. Carefully lower the base and gently press it to the floor while ensuring the closet bolts go through the holes.

Place a plastic washer (older models might use metal washers) between the bowl base and the nut, and anchor the base to the floor with the nut. If the bathroom floor is uneven, you might have to use the shims on the lower sloped edge. An uneven floor can cause leaks.

Once you have anchored the toilet to the floor, sit on the toilet seat and move around on the seat to set the toilet properly. Sitting on the seat will bond the wax ring to the toilet drain to prevent leaks. Closely examine the floor at the base and look for water seepage on the finished floor.

If you need to install the toilet tank guts, follow the component’s packaging. After that, reattach the water line. Then, turn the water line back on and look for leaks.

Final Thoughts

That is how to replace a toilet. Follow these directions, and people will think you are a pro at installing toilets. Once the new toilet is in place, the key is to look for leaks and be ready to address them as needed.

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