You’re a handy homeowner, handyman, or contractor and are working on a bathroom remodel or heavy duty repair at least. Now, you’re looking to answer a few questions such as How to Replace a Toilet, what is the best whole entire one piece toilet to install during your project, or maybe it’s something similar like the best toilet fill valve. Whatever the glitch your facing in hardware we will cover it just ahead, giving you the most current up to date products on the market and proper techniques for installing them. To start off, always go with a trusted brand name plumbing manufacturer, especially for special or large appliances, fittings, or hardware. While there are some lesser known brands that produce quality products, you have less of a chance of a problem occurring if you go brand name. Plus, you will be much likelier to encounter better customer service should any issue actually arise during installation or replacement. because the big name guys not only have a reputation to uphold, but they have the resources to fix or replace a piece should if be defective of a break during installation. But we are getting ahead of ourselves already because first comes many builders favourite part of the job- demolition.
- 1 How to replace a toilet
- 2 Estimate
- 3 Measure
- 4 Actual Installation Process/Steps
- 5 Base Housing And Fittings
- 6 New Wax Seal
- 7 Setting The Toilet Into Place
- 8 Final Touches
- 9 What To Do If Not An All In One Installation
- 10 Picking Out Proper Hardware
- 11 Installation of New Hardware
- 12 Setting The Chain Properly
- 13 Conclusion
How to replace a toilet
Whatever you are fixing or replacing needs to be removed to make way for the new product you are going to install. If this is the whole toilet itself, it’s as simple as unscrewing 2 bolts and one hose fitting, then knocking the whole thing over and/or lifting it up to break the wax seal underneath. That’s the easy part because then the real dirty work starts of clearing away all that old wax ring in order to make way for a clean new one to take it’s place. Many folks will use a simple putty knife, 5 in 1, or similar tool to just scrape away the wax bit by bit, but I suggest taking an old t-shirt rag and setting that over the wax then using your hands over the top to scrape up and scoop up all the old wax ring in, hopefully, one try. Of course, there will still be some left to wipe clean, but I find this the simplest and quickest way to get the majority of the old seal removed. Once all this is removed it needs to be carried out of the bathroom; therefore getting out of the way of future work- never leaves pieces of this step behind. When starting the next step in the process you should have a clear empty work area to start from. Clutter and leftover pieces, parts, even some of the old grimy wax seal can all be detrimental to or complicate what should be a simple installation.
The best one piece toilet or one piece whole toilet to bring into the project at this point is really based off of your and/or your client’s personal preferences. Some folks want a toilet that’s a bit taller, wider, or longer than others; while some people desire the smaller models as they find them more comfortable. You also need to take into account the space provided. An ultra tight bathroom will not have the space if someone prefers a larger toilet. While you/they may still be able to go with a taller or wider model, longer may not be an option due to required legroom. As a good rule of thumb, you will want/need to account for a solid 26 inches of legroom measured from the end of the bowls lip, and that’s at an absolute bare minimum. This is for both comfort and safety. Another thing to take into account when deciding on the proper model to install as a single whole toilet unit is whether or not you will be installing safety rails or grip bars around the toilet, for someone who may need the extra assistance getting up and down. If so, you do not want the bars protruding over the toilet itself, so this may also limit your sizing options on the new model commode.
Once you have considered these things make sure you measure 3 times. If you’ve done home repair for any amount of time you have probably heard the old adage “measure twice, cut once.” Well, when it comes to hardware that you will not be cutting to fit, you want to make your plan good, solid, and be absolutely sure that you have gotten the measurements correct. As this can be a costly mistake (most plumbing supply stores will not take returns of “used” hardware- and I am sure that you can easily guess why that is, hahaha. Man, the horror stories those folks have got to have, must just be horrendous).
Actual Installation Process/Steps
Preparation of work area: So now that you know what size toilet will fit in the remodelled room, remember that the toilet is actually one of, if not thee, very last pieces to the remodel puzzle when it comes to bathrooms. Everything else should be finished and you should even begin the new paint coat behind where the new commode will be placed. This is because the paint will help protect the drywall, plaster, or whatever your surrounding medium is, from any water or condensation it may experience in the future from being in close proximity to such plumbing hardware or any issues that may come about in the years to come. Leaks, drips, hose failures, tank condensation constantly dripping down it; all of these things can, and given enough time will, occur in your bathroom space around the toilet. So it is best to do all you can to make sure you are using the proper materials and methods when preparing the space. This includes using green board drywall, as in the entire bathroom, but is especially important (even just for smaller patch work) around the bathtub, toilet, and behind the sink. Anywhere where water may get on to the wall, it should be drywalled with the proper green board. Also, you should be using a higher sheen paint in your bathroom than elsewhere in your house. At the very least a satin sheen should be used; never ever use a flat sheen ceiling type paint on bathroom walls as this offers little to no protection against incidental water exposure. Many folks even spring for a semi gloss high sheen paint to give the most protection and prepare the walls. Which ultimately makes for the longest possible time between necessary upkeep or replacement of wall material. Or if you go with wallpaper, then use one with an acrylic, vinyl, or similar based product to cover the walls. Simple cheap paper based wall paper that requires a sealant is not recommended for these types of spaces due to their quickness to deteriorate when exposed to prolonged periods of moisture.
Base Housing And Fittings
Once you have everything else in place for your bathroom remodel, including flooring and all, it becomes time to install your new piece of hardware into its proper place over the sewer drainage access pipe. The universal fitting may need to be replaced to so make sure to check for signs of damage, wear, or weakness of any kind now, while your face to face with it; since it is a much easier time than 6 months down the line when you will have to remove everything to access it again. In fact, that’s a common theme to home repair and remodel. It’s best to just replace any hardware that may need it in the near future when you are face to face with it and have the immediate opportunity to do so. You will find yourself replacing pieces and parts that don’t necessarily “need” to be, but to save yourself time, trouble, and future headaches- it’s a good idea to just go forward with replacing items such as supports, fittings, hardware, or other semi cheap materials when you are replacing larger prices and have the easy access. So now you replaced the fitting in which your new toilet sits, many whole “one piece” toilet unit install kits will come with one of these and they will either twist in and then get screwed down in 2-4 places or some require an epoxy type placement. These fittings will typically always have 2 bolt threads sticking up from them at an equal distance apart. These are what the two small holes in the base of the new toilet fit over, simply just slipping them through when everything is lined up correctly. Before screwing down the fitting you will want to make sure that the 2 bolt threads sticking up are either moveable once secured or if not you need to make sure that the two bolts are perfectly centered and evenly spaced from the rear wall. This will ensure that the entire toilet will fit in the correct position in relation to the wall and cupboards and not have a cockeyed look.
New Wax Seal
But before placing the toilet over this fitting you will need to replace the wax seal that we removed in the very beginning, during the demolition process. Your new clean seal requires a good clean surface as the best way to start, as this ensures a longer life of making a solid seal between your new toilet and the housing fitting that holds the end of the sewer drain pipe in place. The most universal design, unless working on an RV or camper trailer bathroom, will not actually be directly connected to the sewer pipe itself, but instead fits over the top and bolted to a set space in the floor that holds the toilet bowl over the hole/opening for the drain pipe. This is to allow for flex and movement in the seat without disturbing and causing wear to the pipe or fitting- cause that is one thing you really don’t want to break, the drain pipe itself. It becomes a whole new nightmare really quickly if that happens and requires an entire manual or book to cover everything involved that repair. So, now to place the new wax seal- which comes wrapped between two sheets of parchment paper and is literally just a chunk of a medium stiffness wax shaped into a ring the exact size of the fitting it will be set on top of and wrap around. You remove one sheet and handle the wax ring with the other one, slowly and as precisely as possible, setting it over and wrapping around the fitting for the toilet’s base. Once you got the whole wax ring set into its proper location you simply remove the piece of parchment paper you have been using to handle to and leave it exposed. Now you should have a housing fitting securely in place with two bolt threads poking up from either side (exactly centre on either side of the fitting with relation to walls or shelving/cupboards) with a wax ring lining the centre of it (wrapped perfectly around the opening into the pipe secured to the floor from underneath. You are getting close to finished, but make sure you take your time with each and every step along the way. The more perfection you achieve in each step ensure a longer longevity of the fittings, hardware, and the more time will elapse before you find yourself working back in that same exact location in the future.
Setting The Toilet Into Place
Now you are all ready to begin setting the toilet seat in place. To do so, you will lift it completely off the ground, and maybe with the assistance of another pair of hands who’s eyes are more easily trained on the base. Then while you lift they will guide the mounting holes into place over the two bolt threads sticking up to ensure the proper alignment before you slowly set the whole unit straight down, and that’s key- straight down- over the housing fitting and squish the wax seal in the process. If you did a good job, now all that’s left is to tighten two nuts down over the bolt thread coming through the base of the toilet from the housing fitting which is the only thing that is screwed to the floor at this point. Simply slide a washer or two over the threads and hand tighten the nut after that until the toilet is secured. You will not need to crank to hard to tighten these two nuts down, as doing so will do more harm then good, you just want a snug-fitting. Most toilets come with two little plastic covers that go over the remainder of the bolt thread sticking up and the nuts you just hand tightened, which will match the exact color of the bowl itself; making everything appear as though to be one whole fluid piece.
Once your new toilet is installed you will want to connect the water supply line to the fitting (usually located at the bottom of the rear chamber reservoir, but sometimes higher up on the reverse (wall) side than the underside. Just make sure to wrap the male fitting of the water supply line connection with a few wraps of plumbers tape to ensure a good, solid, and long-lasting sealed fit between the two. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of later cure,” is an excellent Benjamin Franklin saying that applies to all handymen, remodelers, or homeowners performing any kind of maintenance or construction type work and will save you many future headaches if you adhere to it. In this case, it’s just referring to a small amount of Teflon plumbers tape, but without it the fittings are more likely to leak. Which can go unnoticed for a long period of time and cause a lot of damage to the wall or flooring, where ever the water ends up running along and to. This can cause a nightmare scenario of a floor rotting beneath your toilet housing which eventually can present by the toilet sinking into the floor; possibly by tipping to one side or the other, on that side has the rotten flooring. Even more of a nightmare if it’s the actual subfloor that rotted out, slow enough to go without notice until catastrophic failure occurs. So you see, something as simple as a couple wraps of plumbers tape, if skipped or ignored can come back to bite you big time in the rear end. Hence the ounce of prevention going a long ways to save the future you some major aggravation.
What To Do If Not An All In One Installation
If the toilet you chose doesn’t come with all the internal hardware installed already, and it is just the porcelain housing unit, then you will still have some work to do. This includes all the internal mechanisms involved in flushing. Or if you just have broken hardware within these mechanisms, now is the time to install these. Including the flushing arm that connects by the chain to the plunger stop that either plugs or opens the drain in the rear tank that creates the flushing action.
Picking Out Proper Hardware
First of all, don’t cheap out when it comes to these parts. Get a good, metal preferably, arm connecting the flushing switch/handle that you push on the outside of the tank. This goes through the wall and becomes the arm crossing over to the other side of the tank affording the leverage needed to make pulling the plunger drain plug up with ease. Next, look close and make sure the chain that goes from the arm to the drain plug is good quality. It should not look, or more importantly be, cheap and flimsy. Instead, the chain should be sturdy and seem like it will last a long time (you can compare to some of the really cheap plastic armed setups to see what a cheaper chain looks like). Finally, make sure the drain plug plunger is made of a quality silicone and not a cheaper rubber, as the rubber ones tend to deteriorate faster than their silicone counterparts.
Installation of New Hardware
Once you pick out a quality piece/set of hardware for your flushing mechanism, it is time to install. This involves first separating the handle from the arm, in order to connect the two through the hole in the tanks side for the handle. Usually this is don’t with a twisting threaded washer- sometimes a reverse thread is utilized in this connection, so don’t be surprised if you encounter this in your installation of the handle to the arm. Next, you attach the arm to the chain, usually using a keyring type connection. Which then hangs down to the drain plug plunger, attached usually to a bit of framing that sticks out from the drain plug itself. This will be on the opposite side of the plug from where it attaches to the floor of the tank, usually by a simple pinching of the two-wire hangers like feet that spring back to their original position that will now place them directly into two small loops or tube-like structures. So it goes from those two small feet like pieces of wire inside loops or tubes built into the floor of the tank, on to the drain plug plunger filling the large drain hole in the centre of the tanks housing and follows out along a continued piece of the frame to a place where it connects to the chain.
Setting The Chain Properly
You set the chain so that it fully lifts the drain plug plunger out of the drain hold when the handle on the outside of the tank is engaged about 2/3rds of the way through its range of motion. If you do it to short you may put too much tension on the arm or chain causing a quicker failure of one of these pieces than should occur normally. But if too loose you wont get proper flushing because the drain won’t release fully allowing the reservoir to empty as quickly as it should. So while not extremely delicate, there is a science and fine balance to how all these pieces work together to flush the toilet properly without stressing any one point of the system too much or more than the rest of the mechanism.
Installing The Float/ Water Supply Control The final piece of the internal hardware is what notifies the water supply that it needs to fill or shut off once filled. This is done by a floating bubble on a long arm that goes from the best toilet fill valve, housed inside the tank and across the tank cavity from the water control valve. The float arm ends in a big rubber or silicone bubble filled with air. This is a very simple bit and the only thing you really need to watch out for is that it doesn’t interfere with the drain plug plungers chain between it and the control arm. Your bubble should have a range of motion of about 3-4 inches or so in a small arc at the end on the bubble side- opposite from where the arm connects to the best toilet fill valve. So when lifted to a specific height it informs the valve to turn off its supply of water notifying it that the tank has filled with enough water for the next flush. You can test and adjust this level by bending the arm the bubble is on to set it lower or higher in the tank, the goal is that when the water level reaches just about to the top of the overflow tube. So that the bubble is floating with enough torque pushed on the other end of its arm to turn to valve, which is letting water in to fill the tank, to the off position thereby cutting the flow of water off. Now the tank is full and ready for the next flush by pushing down on the external flushing handle (which will soon become one of the dirtiest parts of your toilet; so keep that in mind when it’s your turn to clean the bathroom and scrub the flushing handle thoroughly).
It’s all as simple as that and can now be used regularly. Once you have all these steps complete make sure to turn the water supply back on, then run a few test flushes. Even perform a dozen or so flushes back to back to make sure there are no issues and check to make sure there is not a single drop of errant water anywhere leaking out from the base of the toilet, from the handle (should your float arm be set to high allowing the water level to even reach the height of the handle mounting hole you need to immediately address this issue), or anywhere else. All the water should be contained within the system from water supply line into tank, from tank into bowl, and from bowl into drain pipe. It should all make up one continuous system on water flow. Now, although some “technical” sounding parts may seem confusing to read at first, once you see the corresponding parts in person and can see exactly how they work for yourself; then it will all make complete and total sense. It may even seem like a total no brainer once you understand how all the parts of the system work in order to make the toilet do what it was designed to do for you and your (or your clients) family by flushing efficiently and properly every time. Mostly done by simple leverage interactions, between the various individual parts of the overall mechanism. While replacing a whole, or even a piece of, a toilet and/or all the internal hardware may seem like a confusing and daunting task, it really is not. It is all quite simple and can be completed by following these few easy to understand directions and taking the necessary precautions warned about even you can complete the entire project in the matter of a few hours at most (and that’s allowing for paint drying time; really it’s only about 2 hours worth of actual worktops). So just take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the chance to work with your hands; some people are not given the chance, or maybe not even the ability, to do so in their entire lives. Although, any and every homeowner will experience the replacing of one or more of the parts at least once in the time of living in any specific home for a period of years. You can save yourself hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars by performing this work on your own, and it really is so simple that absolutely can accomplish a full installation on their own if they just stick to these simple steps. Good luck and relax, just remember that it’s truly fun to work with your hands and ultimately satisfying/rewarding; especially when you’re done and can look at the completed project. That’s when you can step back and be able to say “I did that.”