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2 min read

DIY Guide to Replacing a Toilet

DIY Guide to Replacing a Toilet

Ever had to replace a toilet? Whether it’s a cosmetic update or a repair, every homeowner has to face a toilet project at some point. That might mean dealing with a leak or replacing the entire unit with a new model. In either case, understanding how to go about such a task can save you lots of money.

Modern bathroom with toilet, towel rack, and showerHere's why you might want to replace your toilet:

  • Size: at times, the toilet bowl could be too high/low or too wide/narrow for your comfort
  • Damage: you need to fix a toilet tank or replace a bowl that's cracked
  • Save water: a modern toilet design uses less water
  • Aesthetics: you want to remodel to modernize your bathroom's look

Let's discuss that last point—as a homeowner, you might want to replace a fixture because of how it looks rather than how it works.

Toilet efficiency is another factor you may want to consider. Replacing an old toilet with a high-efficiency one is a great way to save on your water bills.

With that in mind, let's talk about the basic tools and supplies you need for the project:

  • A wrench set—an adjustable span wrench is ideal
  • Plunger
  • A flat-blade screwdriver
  • Channel locks and pliers
  • Hacksaw
  • Plumber's putty, putty knife, and caulk
  • Carpenter's level
  • Bucket
  • Plumber's silicone grease
  • Heavy cardboard to hold the toilet base
  • New wax ring
  • Rags and rolls of paper towels

How to Replace a Toliet in 5 Steps:

1. Disconnect Existing Plumbing and Drain all the Water in the Cistern and Water Closet

Shut off the water by turning off the valve that supplies water to the toilet to stop the water flow. Then, flush the toilet to drain the water in the cistern. Be sure to hold on to the lever so all the water gets out. Use a rag to wring out the remaining water in the water closet and drain it in a bucket.

You can use the plunger to push the remaining water that's in the "trap" where you can't reach it with the rag. Doing this ensures that no water will spill when you remove the toilet you are replacing.

2. Remove the Toilet

At this point, you unscrew all the nuts and caps holding the toilet bowl in place. Here, you can use the wrench or the hacksaw depending on the condition of the nuts. Rock the toilet side to side gently to loosen the wax ring—while taking extreme caution to ensure the gaskets beneath do not stain any surface. 

3. Preparation for Replacement

Check the closet flange and test-fit the toilet (prior to adding the wax ring and mounting the bolts to the flange). Clean the area where you will fit the new toilet and remove all old materials, such as the wax ring—here's where the screwdriver or the putty knife comes in handy.  Ensure you have plugged the drain hole when doing all this; the new toilet should rise to approximately one-eighth of the floor surface. Plus, check the alignment levels of the bolts where the toilet sits.

4. Fix the Wax Ring and Place the New Toilet

The wax ring ensures that the toilet drain and sewage system function as they should. While it's easy to fix, you might need an extra pair of hands to lift/balance the toilet. Center it over the closet flange and see to it that all bolts are aptly positioned.  After fixing the wax ring, place the new toilet and rock it gently until it is firmly positioned. Tighten all the bolts and nuts to secure it. Next, apply the silicone and caulk to seal it tightly.

5. Reconnect Plumbing and Water Supply

Reconnect the water supply system by turning on the valve you had previously turned off. Ensure that the cistern fills with water and flush at least once to confirm there are no leaks around the toilet and tank bolts. Tighten the bolts and caps with the wrench if you notice signs of leakage.

And there you have it—five simple steps to replacing your toilet. Like most projects, the most daunting part is getting started.

Supplies to Get it Done

Looking for supplies for your renovation or DIY project? While ReStore doesn’t carry toilets, you can find great deals on other home improvement materials you need. Find a Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity ReStore near you today.

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