Next on the Honey Do List: Replace Toilet

Time to: replace toilet

This is the project that you've been putting off for quite some time now. Yes, your toilet gets clogged frequently. Sure, the color is outdated and vintage with the house. And of course, you have your high water bills that could be cut by switching to a new and improved low flow toilet.

You want all of those things, BUT...How do you replace a toilet?

The process is actually a lot simpler than you think and won't take as much time and effort as long as you plan ahead in the beginning.

I look at the - fix toilet or replace toilet - project just like anything else. You need to know what you want and what you'll need and then the repair job is easy.

Think of replacing your toilet like presents at Christmas time. No, we're not going to 'unwrap' the toilet and look inside to see what surprises we can find. What I am referring to is that sinking feeling when were a kid, you just unwrapped that coolest transformer, G.I. Joe, etc, and it didn't have any batteries.

Toilets are similar. It's not uncommon for people to forget to buy the 'batteries' when they are purchasing a new toilet.

Here are the three biggest things you'll need to purchase (the batteries):
1) toilet
- no big surprise there. Depending on the toilet, you can range in price anywhere from $75 - $1000. You can typically find a pretty good toilet for under $200. This is by far going to be the largest variable while doing this project.

2) New WAX RING. I know it sounds crazy, however, this is going to be a critical purchase for your replace toilet project. The wax ring typically doesn't come with the toilet and they do come in a few different sizes. You're probably going to spend about $2-$7 on a wax ring.

What is a Wax Ring?

Simply put, it is a ring made out of a softer moldable wax. It is about 4-5 inches across and has the shape of a doughnut (hollow center). They come in 2-3 different heights (from about 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch). I typically will go with the largest one to play it safe.

This is the most important piece you'll need and later on I'll tell you exactly when and where to use it for your replace toilet project.

3) caulk - you might want to caulk around the toilet for added protection. One tube of caulk is going to run you about $3.

4) A new flexible water hose. When you take out the old toilet, you will detach the water hose. Depending on the hose, you might want to have a new one. Take the old one to the hardware store and match it up with what you'll need. I recommend that you get a flexible hose for the repair toilet project.

So, what are the overall costs?Simply put, you'll probably end up spending about $200 or so and the majority of that will come from picking the toilet you like.

Now that we have covered the basics (and costs), let's jump into this home improvement project and get to business (ok, bad joke).

Make sure you have the right tools for your home improvement projects

Step 1: Empty the water from the toilet and Tank
Below your tank, you have a valve that connects to your toilet. It is either coming out of the floor or coming out of the wall. Turn the knob to the right (righty tighty) to shut off the flow of new water coming into the toilet.

Now, flush the toilet. since you have just shut off the water from the toilet, it should not refill. Then take a sponge and soak out as much water as possible.

Step 2: Remove the tank
To do this, you'll need to unhook the water line from the tank. Turn the plastic nut to the left (lefty loosy) and it will come off. You will have a little excess water that will drip out from the water line, this is normal.

The tank is usually bolted to the bowl by two bolts (one on each side). These come through the tank and are connected under the bowl with some wing nuts or regular nuts. You need to unscrew these nuts to get the bolts out.

***Jeff's helpful hints for the - replace toilet - project: What about rusted bolts? You can always use a little WD-40. Spray the WD-40 on the bolts and let it set for a little bit. This should help to loosen the nuts and allow you to unscrew them easily.***

***What if the nuts still don't come? You might need to cut the bolts. If you go in this direction, simply get a hacksaw blade or something similar and cut away.***

Now that the bolts are out, the tank is as dry as possible and the water line is disconnected, you shouldn't have any problems taking the bowl off. So REMOVE IT! Simple enough!

We are now well on our way. No turning back now. You are committed to your replace toilet home improvement project.

Step 3: Remove the Bowl
Just as in step 2, the bowl is bolted down to the floor by two bolts that come from underneath. They are mounted in the floor and are part of the drain assembly. These bolts are on each side of the toilet. They tend to be hidden under the plastic caps (unless your kids that take the caps - like mine have).

Now that you have it unscrewed, the toilet is technically 'free'. However, I like to 'break the seal' around the floor as well.

When a toilet is installed, the installer (you'll do this in just a few minutes as part of your replace toilet project) will put a bead of caulk around the bottom of the toilet against the floor. This helps to create a water tight seal.

I like to make sure this seal is broken. This will help when I try to remove the toilet. Grab your putty knife (or utility knife) and go around the base of the toilet 'cutting' the caulk.

Then 'rock' the toilet from side to side to make sure the seal is broken and take away the toilet bowl.

CONGRATULATIONS! You've Successfully taken apart your toilet. The first part of the replace toilet home improvement project is complete. Good Job!

Now on to the second part of the replace toilet project.

Step 4: Clean the area
I believe in cleaning the surfaces of a project before I put up something new. The toilet is no different. You will want to clean off the old wax ring (so that is where it goes). You will also want to clean the floor around the toilet and remove as much dirt and stains as possible.

Step 5: Put in the new toilet Bowl
At this point, we are basically going to be repeating the steps we did earlier, however, we'll be doing them in reverse.

Start off by putting on your new wax ring. I don't push it down very much, I let the weight of the toilet push it down for me.

Now that the wax ring is down, align the bolts from your toilet to the holes in your toilet bowl and put the toilet bowl down over the hole. Make sure you are aligned well - you only have 1 shot at it.

Like I mentioned earlier, I'll use the weight of the bowl to help create the seal helping to spread out the wax ring. This is going to be a critical part of the replace toilet project. This is your biggest seal.

Step 6: Put the tank back on.
Pretty simple step to the replace toilet project. Simply do step 2 in reverse. Put the tank on, tighten the bolts and hook up the water line.

Step 7: Turn the water on and seal everything up

This is the last step in the replace toilet home improvement project.

First, turn the water back on. Pretty simple. At this point, your toilet tank should start to fill. Keep an eye out for any leaks and tighten where necessary.

I also like to flush the toilet a time or two and test out the wax ring seal we put in from Step 5.

Then I'll put a bead of caulk around the bottom of the toilet.

Boom! You're done!

Congratulations! You just replaced your toilet and saved yourself about $200 or more.

Now you can take - replace toilet - off of your list.

Now that we are complete with this project, how does it rank on the Band Aid Scale of Home Repair?

I don't feel there is much complexity to this project. I feel it is something everyone can handle. We are working with some relatively heavy equipment (the toilet does have some weight to it) and since we are dealing with water that always adds some complexity.

So, I'll rank this a 5 on the Band Aid Scale of Home Repair.

Let's fix the next project together.

Jeff Hensiek

Make sure you have the right tools for your Home Improvement Projects

What did you think of the article?

Return from Replace Toilet to

Return from Replace Toilet to Bathroom Renovations