Toilet replacement is one of those DIY projects that sometimes require several trips to the hardware store. You won’t always know exactly what will be needed until you’ve removed the original toilet. Fortunately, you can prepare ahead of time by purchasing any parts you think you might need. Let’s start with the things that you will definitely need:
- Purchase a new supply line to replace the old one, and a new shut-off valve if the original valve is seized or leaky.
- When you purchase a new toilet, it should come with most of the parts that you’ll need. Check the box and make sure it includes brass closet bolts (to connect the toilet to the flange), and a gasket for connecting the tank to the base, a wax ring, a fill valve, flush valve and flapper. If any of these items are missing, purchase them separately.
You’ll need these tools:
- Large, flat screwdriver
- Medium-sized channel locking pliers
- Wrenches to fit the nuts and bolts that come with the toilet
- Putty knife
- Teflon tape
Here are a few items that you may need to make sure the connection between the soil pipe and toilet are secure. These parts only cost a few dollars apiece, so even if you don’t end up using them, buying ahead of time means you won’t waste time and money on emergency trips to the hardware store.
- Jumbo wax rings are needed if the soil pipe flange is level with the floor or slightly recessed.
- If the flange is broken, or recessed below the floor level by more than ¼ inch, then you will need to buy a PVC flange repair ring (often called a spacer ring) or flange extender. Extenders are designed to fit inside the original soil pipe and provide you with a new flange so that you can properly secure the toilet.
- If the flange is broken or badly rusted so that it will no longer hold the closet bolts, but not recessed, then you will need a thin metal flange repair ring. If the original flange is metal, then the repair ring should bolt directly to the flange. If the original flange is PVC, then you can use a repair ring that fastens to the subfloor around the flange. In either case, you will need a power drill, drill bits and the correct fasteners to hold the ring down to a metal flange, or to wood or concrete subflooring.
Lastly, a mini hacksaw that you can use to cut metal is a wise purchase in case you need to cut off rusted closet bolts in order to lift the original toilet off the flange.
When it comes to replacement, the process is simple.
Here are the steps you’ll need to follow:
- Before you remove the original toilet, unbox the new toilet and assemble it, starting with the tank. Install the fill valve according to instructions, then the flush valve. Use channel locking pliers to gently tighten each fitting. When this is finished, place the tank gasket on the base of the flush valve and then fasten the tank to the base of the toilet using the tank bolts that came with the toilet. Use a flat screwdriver and wrench to tighten, making sure that you don’t over tighten and accidentally break the porcelain.
- To remove the old toilet, turn off the water supply and then flush the toilet to drain it of water. Disconnect the supply line at the valve. Then, at the base of the toilet, undo the nuts on the closet bolts. If these bolts are badly rusted, you may need to cut them off. When finished, you can lift the toilet straight up, off the flange to remove it.
- Crumple an old rag and place it in the soil pipe to block sewer gas — but don’t forget to remove the rag before you install the new toilet! Clean the soil pipe with a putty knife, taking care to remove any remnants of the original wax ring (including the rubber gasket that came with it).
- Make any repairs necessary to the toilet flange using a repair ring or extender. Then place the wax ring, either regular sized or jumbo, on the flange, making sure that the rubber gasket on the bottom of the ring rests inside the soil pipe. Fit the closet bolts into the slots on either side of the flange. Then, lift the new toilet, align it with the soil pipe and carefully place it on the wax ring so that the closet bolts fit through the holes in the base of the toilet.
Tip: Never lift a toilet by the tank because you can easily crack or shatter the porcelain where the tank connects to the base. Always lift from the base!
When the toilet is in place, tighten nuts on the closet bolts to fasten the toilet to the flange. Alternate, tightening each side a little bit at a time so that the wax ring is compressed evenly.
- Hook up the supply line between the shut-off valve and the toilet. Use Teflon tape on metal threads (usually the joint where the valve connects to the supply line. Turn the valve on, allow the toilet to fill, and assess for leaks. You should also flush the toilet several times to check for leaks around the base. If any leaks appear, tightening the leaky fittings should fix the issue.