How To Replace A Toilet–The Best Way

Last Updated on July 25, 2023 by support

White toilet bowl in a bathroom

Skill level: Intermediate

Time: 2-4 hours

Cost: $100-$600 (depends on the type of toilet)

Tools:

  • Work Gloves
  • 2-foot level (or longer)
  • Hack Saw
  • Putty Knife
  • Safety Glasses
  • Tongue-and-groove pliers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Large sponge
  • Old towels
  • Bucket
  • Utility knife

Materials:

  • New toilet
  • Toilet shims (optional)
  • Wax ring
  • Silicone caulk (optional)

How To Replace A Toilet

Have you ever been in a situation where your toilet has stopped working, and you had no idea what to do? Or do you simply want to upgrade the look of your bathroom with a new toilet? Replacing a toilet can seem like an intimidating task, especially if you’ve never done it before. 

Fortunately, replacing a toilet is not as difficult as it may seem. In this blog post, we will provide you with an easy step-by-step guide on how to replace a toilet. By the end, you will know all the steps necessary for replacing your old toilet and making sure the new one is in good working order. And if you’re interested in upgrading your entire bathroom, be sure to check out our guide to how much it costs to remodel your bathroom in Arizona.

1. Turn Off Water Supply On Old Toilet

A toilet shut off valve

Locate the shut-off valve near the base of the tank and turn it off. 

2. Flush And Remove the Remaining Water

Now, flush the toilet to remove most of the water inside the bowl and the tank. Use a large sponge to soak up the remaining water and squeeze it into a bucket. Repeat this process until you have removed all of the remaining water.

3. Disconnect Water Supply Line

Use an adjustable wrench to disconnect the water supply lines that are attached to the toilet tank.

4. Unscrew The Nuts On The Bottom Of The Tank

Be prepared to encounter some rust on these nuts since they are exposed to moisture, and it can cause them to corrode over time. If you are unable to loosen the nuts, you can use a hacksaw to cut the bolts off.

5. Lift The Tank Off Of The Bowl (Not Required For One-Piece Toilets)

Man lifting tank off of toilet bowl.

After you have unscrewed the nuts that attach the tank to the toilet bowl, carefully lift the tank off the bowl. Be sure to wear work gloves when you do this in case the tank cracks.

Note: One-piece toilets do not have a detachable tank, so this step will not be required for those models of toilets.

6. Remove Mounting Nuts From Bowl

You’ll find these located at the base of the toilet, where they secure the toilet bowl to the floor. Remove the plastic caps that cover the mounting nuts (you may need to pop them off with a flathead screwdriver).

Carefully turn the mounting nuts counterclockwise using an adjustable wrench. Again, if the mounting bolts (also known as closet bolts) are too rusted to be removed, you can cut them with a hacksaw. Just remember that if you cut them, you’ll need to buy new mounting hardware to secure your toilet to the floor.

7. Lift The Bowl Off The Floor

With the help of an assistant, carefully lift the bowl and set it on a garbage bag or old towel to keep it from staining the floor.

8. Inspect The Toilet Flange

Carefully inspect the toilet flange (also called a closet flange) on the floor to ensure that it’s not damaged. If it is damaged, you will need to replace it. If you do need to replace the flange, take a photo of it to ensure you get the same type when you go to the hardware store.

If the flange is undamaged, it can be reused. Stuff an old rag in the drain hole in the center of the flange to prevent anything from accidentally falling in.

9. Remove Old Wax Ring

Person removing wax ring from base of toilet

Wax rings can’t be reused, so you’ll need to scrape off the remnants of the old wax ring on the toilet flange with a putty knife before you place the new wax ring. You can also scrape the wax off the base of the old toilet just to ensure it doesn’t fall off anywhere in your house when you are disposing of the old toilet.

Note: If your toilet has a foam gasket instead of a wax ring, you may be able to reuse it. Just verify the foam is in good condition and save it for your replacement toilet.

10. Set New Toilet Bowl On Flange To Verify Fit And Levelness

It’s always a good idea to confirm that your new toilet fits properly before proceeding. With the help of an assistant, carefully set the new toilet on the flange to ensure that the mounting bolts align with the holes on the base of the toilet.

This is also a good time to check that your new toilet is level. Lay a level that is at least 2 feet long across the toilet bowl to see if it sits level on the floor. If it’s not level, you can insert toilet shims under the toilet until it is level. Any excess toilet shims that protrude past the edge of the toilet can be trimmed with a utility knife after installation is complete.

After verifying the toilet fits and is level, lift it off the flange and carefully set the toilet bowl upside down (or on its side) on an old towel.

11. Place New Wax Ring

With the toilet bowl upside down (or on its side), place the wax ring around the toilet outlet (or horn) found on the bottom of the toilet. Gently press it into place but take care not to deform it. Once the wax ring is pressed onto the flange, it can’t be reused. If you have to remove the toilet after setting it onto the flange, you’ll need to get a new wax ring.

12. Set New Toilet Bowl 

Remove the rag you previously inserted into the drain hole. If you are using new mounting hardware, place the closet bolts into their proper slots on the closet flange. Have an assistant help you carefully lower the new toilet bowl into place, making sure that the closet bolts slide into the correct holes on the toilet base.

You may also want to recheck the levelness of the toilet at this point, just to make sure you didn’t accidentally move any of the toilet shims. Place a washer and nut on each of the closet bolts.

13. Carefully Tighten Mounting Nuts

Person tightening mounting nuts on toilet base

Use caution when tightening the mounting nuts on the toilet base. Tighten them until they are snug, but do not overtighten them. It’s surprisingly easy to crack the toilet base by overtightening the toilet bolts.

Alternate tightening the bolts on each side of the toilet to help keep it level. If the length of the bolts doesn’t allow you to cover them with the plastic caps, use a hacksaw to trim the excess bolt length.

14. Attach The Toilet Tank (Not Required For One-Piece Toilets)

For two-piece toilets, you’ll need to attach the tank. If you are installing a one-piece toilet, you can skip this step.

Most toilet tanks will already have the flush valve assembly installed in the tank. If not, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for setting up the flush valve assembly.

Some tanks will also already have the rubber gasket installed on the bottom of the tank where it connects to the toilet. If not, simply place the rubber gasket over the tank outlet. Then insert the bolts and washers that will secure the tank to the toilet through the appropriate holes.

Carefully set the tank onto the toilet, making sure that the bolts are inserted into the appropriate holes on the toilet. Then carefully tighten the nuts down, alternating between each side to keep the pressure even. Verify the tank is level after both attachment bolts are snug.

15. Attach Toilet Seat And Lid

Person preparing to attach toilet seat to toilet

Position and attach the toilet seat and lid to the toilet bowl using the hardware provided by the manufacturer.

16. Reconnect Water Supply Line

Reconnect the water supply line to the toilet tank. Start by hand-tightening, then carefully tighten some more with pliers.

17. Turn On Water Supply Valve

Turn the shut-off water valve to the open position and wait for the tank to fill up.

18. Flush And Check For Leaks

After the tank has filled, flush the toilet and watch the base of the toilet for leaks. Allow the tank to refill and flush again, this time watching the connection where the tank and toilet meet. Repeat this process until you are sure there are no leaks anywhere on the toilet assembly.

Note: Some professionals like to apply silicone caulk around the base of the toilet where it meets the floor to ensure a seamless appearance for aesthetic reasons. However, other installers recommend against this practice since it can make it more difficult to detect leaks and can lead to hidden water damage.

Frei Remodeling & Construction Can Build Your Dream Bathroom

Now that you’ve successfully replaced your old toilet, you may be thinking about other ways to upgrade your bathroom. Frei Remodeling & Construction is one of southern Arizona’s oldest home remodeling companies. We have helped countless homeowners bring their dream bathrooms to life with modern amenities and spa-like features. If you’re ready to start planning your bathroom remodel, don’t hesitate to reach out. Just give us a call or fill out our contact form today, and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

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Joe Frei

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