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A Step-By-Step Guide To Installing a Toilet

Copyright (c) 2007-2019

Replacing a toilet might seem difficult, but if you knew how easy it really was, you would not even bother calling the plumber.

You only need four tools to get the job done right: a small wrench, a socket set, a flat-head screwdriver, and a level. You might also need a scraper and an old towel.

In a pinch, you can use two adjustable wrenches in place of the small wrench and socket set, although using the right tools to do the job will make the job much easier to complete... I started to say "crescent(r) wrenches" until I realized that Crescent(r) is actually a brand of adjustable wrenches and other tools, owned by Cooper Hand Tools, a division of Cooper Industries, Inc. Here is a clear case of the brand name becoming universally utilized as a generic product description.

Parts Necessary For Your Toilet Installation

You will need to get the toilet bowl, toilet tank, toilet flange bolts, and we recommend a kitchen/bath silicone caulk. If you have uneven floors or tile floors, you might also need some rubber shims. Since the wax bowl ring only costs a couple of bucks, I would recommend that you replace it too. You should get the one with the plastic flange attached to it.

Pulling Up Your Old Toilet

The first thing you want to do when you are pulling your old toilet up is to cut off the water supply. In most cases, you will be able to do that from a water shut-off valve at the floor level below your toilet. Once you have closed off the water supply, then you will want to loosen the water supply line where it enters the base of your toilet tank.

You will be able to flush out most of the water in your toilet tank and basin, but you will never get all of the water out. So, it is good practice to have an old towel lying around to soak up the small amount of water that will spill when you take out your old toilet.

You will want to detach your toilet seat and toilet lid before you haul your old toilet out of the house. That is done by loosening the nuts directly below the hinge on your seat, from below the porcelain of the toilet.

At the floor level, you will see two plastic caps that will need to be removed so that you can get to the nuts below. Once you have removed these nuts, your toilet should come straight up.

Preparing The Area For Your New Toilet

When you pull up the old toilet, you will find a wax bowl ring on the floor.

This is the only part of the task that can get messy. When you pull up the wax ring, you might have some of the wax stuck to the floor. You will need to scrape up this old wax. Your old towel comes in handy here as well, since you can use it to clean the wax from your scraper, so you don't have to get the wax on your hands.

If you are putting new toilet flange bolts in, now is the time to do that. The heads of the bolts have two flat sides and two rounded sides. Turn them sideways to get them into the flange, and then turn them where the cornered sides are under the lip of the flange. With your new flange bolts set, there will be a plastic piece with a cross cut from the middle. You should slide this over the bolt and push is towards the floor. This will keep your flange bolts from sliding out of position.

Prepare Your Toilet Bowl For Placement

Take your toilet bowl out of the box, and place it upside down on the floor.

At this point, you should put the level on the floor to make sure that you are dealing with a level surface. If you are not dealing with a level surface, you will need to use the rubber shims to stabilize your toilet once it is put it in place. You can use masking tape to fasten the rubber shims to the base circumference of your toilet.

If you have a tile floor, you will want to use the rubber shims to keep your toilet from moving or swiveling after you have set it in place. Any movement of the toilet bowl after you have set it in place might break the seal of your wax ring. If your seal is broken, you will run the risk of having sewer gas leak back into your bathroom, or you will find that your toilet leaks unclean water onto your floor.

Once you have applied the shims to the bottom of your toilet, you will want to place the wax bowl ring on the base of your toilet. The plastic part that drops below the wax is supposed to go into the hole in your floor that leads to the sewage drain, so apply it to the base of your toilet bowl facing away from the toilet.

The last step you will want to take before affixing the toilet bowl to the floor is to put some kind of marker down to show you where the toilet flange bolts are located. The last thing you want to be doing is to be hovering the toilet above the floor wondering where the bolts are so that you can drop the toilet in the right spot the first time. Whether you put a couple screwdrivers on the floor pointing to the flange bolts or put a pencil mark on the floor is up to you, so long as you leave yourself a way to make a visual alignment from above the toilet.

Executing Your Bowl Plan

Once you get through this next step, it is all down hill from here. It is now time to flip your toilet bowl over and then to slowly guide it onto the toilet flange bolts.

If you put good markers on the floor to remind you where the bolts are located, you should be able to put the holes over the bolts on your very first try. From personal experience, I can tell you that not marking off where your bolts are located will lead to many headaches.

Once you have your toilet bowl on the floor, gently press it to the floor. Sitting on your new toilet is often a good choice. If you sense a wobble in your toilet, you may need to affix additional rubber shims to level your toilet. You do not want to lift the toilet back off the floor unless you have another wax bowl ring handy. I also learned that from the school of hard knocks.

At this point, you will want to put the plastic piece with the square hole onto your bolt on top of the porcelain, then put the washer on, and finally start your nuts on the bolts.

As you put on the nuts, twist them down to just above the porcelain, and then turn each just a few turns before going to the other side. The point is that each side needs to be tightened just a little bit at a time. This is important because you do not want to over-tighten the nuts causing the flange or porcelain to break.

Attaching The Toilet Tank

In most cases, there will be a rubber gasket attached to the bottom of the tank. Just slip the tank onto the top of the toilet bowl, lining up the three holes on the tank with the three holes on the bowl.

If the tank did not have a rubber gasket on the bottom of it that also surrounded the boltholes, the tank will come with rubber gaskets to be affixed to your bolts before sliding them into the holes from inside the toilet tank. Just slide the bolts into the holes from the top.

Put your level on top of the tank to help you guide the tightness of your nuts. You will want to make sure that when you are done, your toilet tank is level.

Put the washers on the bottom side of the bolts, and then start the nuts on your bolts. Once again, you will want to tighten each of the three nuts a little bit at a time, so that you do not break the bowl or the tank. Use your flat head screwdriver to hold the bolt in place as you tighten the nuts.

Final Steps...

We only have three easy steps remaining. First, you need to reattach the water supply to the fitting on the bottom of the tank. Do turn on the water to make sure that you do not have any leaks.

Next, put a bead of your kitchen/bathroom silicone caulk around the front and sides of your toilet. You want to leave the back open in the event that the wax seal breaks at some point. Leaving that area open will allow you to notice a problem, before damage is done to the floor under the toilet.

And finally, you will want to put your toilet seat back on your toilet.

Ready For Use

You are now ready to use your new toilet. Most people can complete this job in just under an hour.

About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
Cecil Radmore writes about home improvement. If you live in the United Kingdom, and you need to find kitchen or bathroom plumbing supplies, then shop for UK Plumbing Supplies at They also provide a wide selection of kitchen taps and bathroom taps in the UK. Buy Plumbing UK has a wide selection of bathroom taps, shower mixers, shower boosters, and electric showers.

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