Installing a toilet

Replacing a toilet for a newer, more eco-friendly model isn’t hard. Only 10 steps are required to complete this project.

Difficulty level : 
Duration : 
4 hours

Disconnecting the water supply

  • 1.1Turn off the water supply to the toilet. If there is no shutoff valve, close the main water shutoff valve.
  • 1.2Flush the toilet.
  • 1.3Sponge out the remaining water from the tank. Plunge and bail as much water as possible out of the bowl.
  • 1.4Unscrew the handle from the shutoff valve. With two adjustable wrenches, disconnect the water supply line from the shutoff valve and from the toilet tank.

Removing the old tank

  • 2.1Unscrew the nuts from the bolts securing the tank to the bowl with a socket wrench.
  • 2.2Lift the tank off the bowl and remove it from the work area.

Top tip

The tank and bowl are heavy so wear a back-support belt and lift using the leg muscles. If possible, work with a helper.

Freeing the old bowl

  • 3.1Use a screwdriver to pry the caps off the bolts on each side of the toilet bowl.
  • 3.2Remove the nuts from the floor bolts with an adjustable wrench.

Removing the old bowl

  • 4.1Rock the bowl back and forth to break the seal between the toilet and the flange. Lift the bowl off the bolts. With a helper, remove the bowl from the work area and set it down on cardboard or newspaper.
  • 4.2Plug the drain with a rag to prevent sewer odor from escaping. If you’re not installing the new toilet right away, cover the drain opening to avoid any risk of rodent invading from the sewer.
  • 4.3Scrape the wax off the flange with a putty knife. Remove the flange bolts and wipe the flange clean.
  • 4.4Inspect the flange carefully. If it is cracked, bent or otherwise damaged, call a plumber to replace it.

Top tip

Inspect the drain. If the pipe sealed to the flange is rigid plastic, use a wax ring fitted with a plastic sleeve. For a lead pipe, a wax ring without a sleeve is required.

Preparing the bowl

  • 5.1Turn the new bowl upside down and position a new wax ring over the horn. If you are using a wax ring with a sleeve, position the sleeve away from the bowl and remove the protective plastic.

Installing the bowl

  • 6.1Insert new bolts into the slots positioning them an equal distance from the wall – usually 12 inches.
  • 6.2Remove the rag from drain.
  • 6.3Turn the bowl over, straddle on the bolt, and rock and twist it to compress and spread the wax.
  • 6.4Shim the low spot with a copper or brass washer if the toilet doesn’t sit flat.
  • 6.5Slide a plastic cap base onto each bolt, then a washer and the nut. With an adjustable wrench tighten the nuts. But don't overtighten them – you could crack the bowl. Leave the bolt caps for later in case the nuts need to be tightened further.

Preparing the tank

  • 7.1Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the ballcock and the flush valve assembly. Leave the handle assembly and float ball to later so that it won’t interfere with the fastening of the tank bolts.
  • 7.2Turn the tank upside down and slip the spud washer over the end of the flush valve.

Installing the tank

  • 8.1Lift the tank onto the bowl, lowering the spud washer into the water inlet opening.
  • 8.2Shift the tank slightly until the bolt holes inside the tank line up with those on the bowl.

Fastening the tank

  • 9.1Place a rubber washer onto each bolt and slide them through the tank holes from inside the tank.
  • 9.2Place a rubber washer and a nut over each bolt under the back rim of the bowl. Holding the bolts with a screwdriver from inside the tank, tighten the nuts with an adjustable wrench. Be careful not to overtighten them.
  • 9.3Install the handle assembly and float ball according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Top tip

The original copper or chrome supply may not be shaped to fit the new installation and it can be difficult to bend without kinking. It’s best to replace it with braided flexible supply tubing. Be sure to buy a piece of tubing ling enough to reach from the tank to the valve.

Connecting the water supply

  • 10.1Attach the new supply tube to the shutoff valve and tighten with an adjustable wrench. Reinstall the valve handle. Hand-tighten the supply tube to the base of the ballcock under the tank.
  • 10.2Turn on the water supply. After the tank is filled, flush the toilet and carefully inspect all joints and seals for leaks. Tighten the tank or bowl bolts as necessary.
  • 10.3Snap the plastic caps onto the bowl bolts. Trim the bolts with a mini hacksaw if necessary.
  • 10.4Finish by installing the toilet seat.

Suggested products

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