How to install a new toilet

If you are like most people, you probably never give your toilet a second thought as long as it works.   If it doesn’t work however, it can get aggravating really fast.

Once you find yourself with a leaky toilet or worse, a money flushing toilet (think lots of water used to do the job), then it may be time to think about a replacement. You might be surprised at the flushing power and water efficiency of today’s modern toilets.  For $100-150, you can install a new toilet that flushes quickly and with very little water….think 1.4 gallons!  Your water bill will thank you!  I know, I know, it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.   Unless you want to pay a plumber, the good news is that it is fairly easy and quick as a do-it-yourself project.

What you’ll need: New toilet, new flanged wax ring with adjustable height bolts, plumbers tape, wrench and pliers, plastic putty knife, level, shims and caulk

1)   Out with the old

All toilets are supplied with water from a valve usually found on the backside at the wall.  Turn this valve to shut off the water supply and flush the remaining water out of the tank. You might need to use a plunger to push the remaining water in the bowl down the pipes.  Once the water is out of the toilet, you can loosen the water supply hose nut at the bottom of the tank, usually found on the left side.  Next, use a screwdriver to pop the white caps off at the bottom of the toilet, revealing the anchor bolts that hold the toilet secure to the floor.  Loosen the nut until it comes off completely.  At this point, your toilet should lift up freely.  If it seems stuck, use a straight edge knife to loosen any caulk holding the toilet down.  The whole toilet may take two people to lift off the screws since it will be somewhat heavy.

2)  The dirty details

Now that the old toilet is out of the way, don’t run away once you see what was under it.  I know its gross, but put on some disposable gloves or wrap your hand in a bag and take the putty knife and remove as much of the old wax ring as you can and transfer it to a plastic bag for disposal.  It doesn’t have to be shiny clean, but any large clumps that remain from the old wax may not allow your new toilet to “seat” even.  The toilet flange has two slots that hold the anchor bolts in place; one end of the slot has a larger opening.   The old anchor bolts can be removed by spinning them to the larger slot in the flange.

3)  In with the new

Place the new anchor bolts in the slots and spin them around so that they stand upright.  Use the plastic washers provided with the wax ring kit that will hold them securely in place.

4)   The new wax ring

With the new bolts in place, now place the new wax ring, flange down inside the waste line.

5)  The crowning touch

Take the bowl portion of the new toilet (do not attach the tank yet), and have someone lend a hand and guide you to set the toilet in line with the new anchor bolts.  Once it is set, you should see the anchor bolts protruding through the bottom.  This is the part where I usually give it a light “sit” so that the bowl squashes gently down on the ring to make the seal.

6)  Level and tighten

Use the nut and washer that comes with the wax ring kit and hand tighten them onto the anchor bolts.  Be careful not to over-tighten as you may crack your new toilet!

Before you proceed to tighten them a little more securely, check your levels.  You should be level from back to front and side to side.  You can use some shims to make adjustments.  Once level, tighten the nuts a little more with pliers again taking care not to over-tighten where it cracks your toilet.

7)  Attach the tank by following manufacturer’s instructions, attach the tank to the bowl.  The tank should not be loose or unlevel.

8)   Wrap the new toilet nipple for the water supply connection with plumbers tape and reattach the water supply hose.  Turn the valve back on and your tank should begin to fill up with water.  Now the moment of truth, give it a flush!  Check for any leaks at the base and at your water supply line.  If you have any leaks, you may just need to tighten a bit more.

9)  Once you are leak free, you can now caulk the bottom edge of the bowl where it meets the floor, put the new caps over the bolts and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

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