How to Replace a Toilet

Whether it’s time to upgrade to a higher-efficiency toilet or you’re replacing an old water-wasting dinosaur, a little planning can ensure the project goes smoothly. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to replace a toilet, from turning off the water supply and emptying the bowl to installing the new tank and the flapper and flush valve.

Before you start tearing down the old fixture, account for some mess. Putting down a tarp or some old towels under the base of the toilet will help soak up any water that drips during the removal process. It’s also a good idea to close the main water shut-off valve and flush the toilet a few times to drain it completely.

Locate the water supply line that leads to the toilet and place a bucket under it to catch any residual water that might still be in the line. Then, remove the coupling nut that connects the water line to the fill valve or toilet tank. Using an adjustable wrench, loosen the nut and carefully disconnect the water line from the toilet.

Next, you’ll need to remove the toilet’s floor bolts. These bolts affix the toilet to the floor and, as they come into contact with moisture regularly, are susceptible to corrosion and rust. To avoid this, they should be coated in plumber’s grease before attempting to remove them. If the floor bolts refuse to budge, use some penetrating oil or a hacksaw to cut them off (you’ll need to re-use the nuts and washers).

Once the toilet bowl is free, remove the tank from its attachments. Unscrew and remove the caps that hold the bolts that attach the tank to the bowl, then unscrew and remove the nuts, washers and bolts that affix the tank to the toilet base. Depending on the age of your toilet, these bolts may be tight or frozen. Use a wrench and apply some penetrating oil to help break them loose.

After the tank is disconnected, lift it off of the bowl and set it on a towel or tarp to protect your floor. Next, insert the closet flange bolts, threaded-end up, into the flange collar’s slots and slip a brass washer over each. Then, lower the toilet base onto the flange bolts, aligning its holes in the base with those of the flange bolts and gently rocking it until it’s seated securely.

Reconnect the water line and reattach the tank. After the toilet is reconnected, test out its functionality by running some water from the bowl into a bucket. If it flushes properly and refills, you’ve successfully replaced a toilet!

If it doesn’t, recheck your work and make sure all connections are secure. If all is well, you can turn on the water and enjoy your new, energy-efficient toilet! If you want to be extra certain, re-test the toilet by flushing it a few times. And, don’t forget to reattach the toilet tank lid!