Everything You Need to Know About Installing a New Toilet

Mar08 By Emergency Plumber Plumbing Plumbing Contractor Remodel Toilet
White bathroom with house plants throughout

As with virtually every fixture in your home, toilets have a finite lifespan. If yours is no longer functioning reliably, it may be time to replace it. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about installing a toilet, including when to replace your commode, how to shop for a replacement, and step-by-step instructions for getting the job done.

Signs You Need a New Toilet

Before you get serious about replacing your toilet, it’s important to understand whether you need a new one in the first place. Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Frequent clogs: The occasional clog is normal, but having to use a plunger multiple times a month is not a good sign.
  • Constant repairs: If you’re tired of paying for toilet repairs, it may be more cost-effective to replace your toilet with a new, reliable fixture.
  • Cracks or leaks: A cracked bowl or tank can lead to leaks, causing water damage. There’s no way to fix a cracked toilet, so replacing it is a must.
  • Outdated design: Perhaps your toilet still works, but it’s outdated or doesn’t match your bathroom’s aesthetic. Investing in an upgrade can do wonders for your interior design.

How to Shop for a Replacement Toilet

Once you’re confident you want to replace your toilet, the next step is to find one that fits your needs. Here’s what to consider:

  • Size: Make sure the toilet you choose fits in your bathroom. Typically, you should allow 12 inches from the center of the bowl to the nearest wall.
  • Height: Consider the height of the toilet, knowing that standard heights range from 14 to 16 inches.
  • Bowl shape: Decide between a round and an elongated bowl, depending on your preference and bathroom layout.
  • Water efficiency: Look for toilets with a WaterSense label, which indicates that they meet EPA water efficiency standards.
  • Flush options: You’re probably most familiar with single-flush, gravity-assisted toilets, but water-saving toilets have other flush options. For instance, dual-flush toilets offer a 1.6-gallon flush for solid waste and a 0.8- to 1.1-gallon flush for liquid waste. Then, pressure-assisted toilets use compressed air, making it possible to use less than a gallon of water per flush.
  • Go smart: Smart toilets are the next generation of bathroom fixtures. Most are tankless, with a multi-functional bidet seat, side control panel, and smartphone app compatibility.

Tools Needed to Install a New Toilet

Before you begin the toilet installation process, gather all the tools you’ll need, including:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Bucket
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Putty knife
  • Wax ring
  • Closet bolts, washers, and nuts
  • Carpenter’s level
  • Hacksaw
  • Caulk
  • Caulk smoothing tool
  • Damp cloth

How to Install a Toilet

Your new toilet should come with installation instructions. Still, the basic steps of installing a new toilet are universal.

Step 1: Shut Off the Water Supply

Locate the valve behind the toilet and turn it clockwise to shut off the water. If you can’t locate the valve, turn off the main water supply to your home. Then, flush the toilet to empty the bowl.

Step 2: Remove the Old Toilet

Disconnect the water supply line from the bottom of the tank using an adjustable wrench. Have a bucket handy to catch any water remaining in the tank, bowl, or water line. Next, remove the caps from the toilet base and unscrew the bolts securing the toilet to the floor. You may need a flathead screwdriver to pop off tight bolt caps and a wrench to loosen the bolts.

Then, carefully lift the old toilet off the flange and set it aside. If the toilet is heavy, have another person help you. Use a putty knife to scrape away old wax from the flange. Be careful not to damage the flange, as this can cause leaks.

Step 3: Install a New Wax Ring

Place the wax ring on the flange and center it over the opening. The wax ring should be soft and pliable at room temperature. If it’s hard or brittle, warm it up by holding it in your hands or placing it in a warm area for a few minutes.

Step 4: Install the New Toilet

With someone’s help, lift the new toilet into position over the flange and lower it onto the wax ring. Press down on the toilet bowl to compress the wax ring and create an airtight seal. Make sure the toilet is level and centered over the flange and that both bolts pass through the holes in the toilet base.

Next, attach the washers and nuts to the closet bolts and tighten them by hand. Use a carpenter’s level to ensure the toilet sits flat. Tighten the nuts with a wrench, being careful not to over-tighten, which can crack the toilet bowl. Use a hacksaw to cut off any excess bolt length.

Step 5: Connect the Water Supply

Attach the water supply line to the tank and tighten it with an adjustable wrench. Turn on the water supply and check for any leaks. If you notice any, tighten the toilet base and water line connections.

Step 6: Caulk the Toilet Base

Apply caulk around the toilet to seal it to the floor. Use a caulk gun to apply the caulk in a continuous, even bead. Use your dampened finger or a caulk smoothing tool to create a clean finish. Wipe up any excess caulk with a damp cloth and allow it to dry.

Get Help Installing a Toilet

With the right tools and some basic plumbing knowledge, installing a toilet is a straightforward task. However, if you feel unsure about the installation process, hire a professional to avoid potential damage or accidents.

Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating is here to help. If your toilet is past its prime, our experienced plumbers can quickly and professionally replace it with a new, high-efficiency model. Contact us today at (206) 938-3219 to request a free toilet installation estimate in Seattle.

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