A Simple Project: Replacing A Toilet – On the House

A Simple Project: Replacing A Toilet

By on June 18, 2015

Replacing a toilet may not be one of the most exciting ways to spend a Saturday, but then that’s the nice part about this particular project; you should be able to perform this little task and still have time to enjoy your after­noon.

Let’s begin this project by arming ourselves with the required tools: an open-ended wrench (1/4″ or 3/8″), a crescent wrench, a pair of pliers, a screwdriver, and a hacksaw. Start by turning off the water supply to the toilet. Simply turn the little valve that is located below and behind the toilet clockwise until it stops. Flush the toilet and remove any water that may remain in the tank or bowl with a small cup and a sponge. Once all of the water has been removed disconnect the water supply line at the base of the tank. This can be achieved by backing off the nut in a counterclockwise direction.

Our next step is to unfasten the toilet from the floor. Most residential toilets are anchored to the floor with a couple of fasteners called closet bolts. You may even find that your toilet contains four of these devices. They are cleverly concealed with either porcelain or plastic caps provided by the manufacturer. “Ah ha!” you say, “that’s what those little doodads are that are so hard to clean around!” In reality a toilet is rarely anchored to the floor itself. In most cases it is bolted to the “closet flange”, a device that connects to the sanitary sewer system and to the floor. Pry those closet bolt caps off with a screwdriver and remove the nuts that remain with an open-ended wrench turning counterclockwise. Now comes the fun part, removing the toilet. We suggest that you have one other person help you lift the toilet and carry out because it’s as awkward as it is heavy.

Don’t be alarmed by the gooey mess that may appear on the floor where the toilet once sat. What remains is some of the wax ring, which is used to form a seal between the toilet and the sewer. Remove any of the wax that remains with a putty knife. Chances for achieving a new leak-proof seal will be especially good if you take care in cleaning up the surface to accept the new wax ring.

Now it’s time to install the new toilet, that is, after you have assembled it in accordance with the instructions provided by the manufacturer. With the toilet lying on its side, remove the new wax ring (sold separately) from its packaging and affix it to the exhaust port of the toilet with the plastic throat facing away from the toilet. Affix the new closet bolts (typically provided with the toilet) to the closet flange in an upright position just as you found the old ones. Next, pick the toilet up and, without allowing the bottom to touch the floor, align the holes in the base of the toilet with the closet bolts and gently lower it until it completely seats. Install the nuts onto the closet bolts being careful not to tighten them too tight; this could result in a broken toilet! Then place the bolt caps over the nuts, and if the bolt caps don’t properly seat chances are that the bolts are too long. Shorten the bolts by cutting off the excess with a hacksaw. Reattach the water supply line to the tank with the new nut and washer provided with the toilet and turn the water on. Voila’! See? It only sounds difficult.

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