How to Install a Toilet

If your old toilet has developed a leak or you just want a more efficient or stylish model, you may not have to bother calling a plumber. Learn how to install a toilet yourself and you can have your new model in place in just a few hours. In addition to learning the basics of how to install a toilet, check your municipal building codes for any other installation guidelines you may need to consider.

Preparation
Before you start working, shut off the water supply to the toilet. Flush the toilet a few times to make sure the pipes are cleared out and sponge any remaining water out of the bowl.

Remove the existing toilet
Before you can take out the old toilet, you’ll need to disconnect the water supply lines. To do this, take off the wing nut where the water line connects to the valve on the bottom of the tank. Have a bucket ready so you can let the water drain out of the tank.

Next use a wrench to remove the nuts holding the bowl to the floor flange (also called a “closet flange”). The floor flange is the ring that guides waste water to the drain and also stabilizes the toilet. Now lift off the existing toilet bowl. To keep sewer gases from escaping, carefully stuff a rag into the waste water pipe. Remove the bolts from the floor flange and thoroughly clean the flange. If the old flange is cracked, replace it to prevent leaks.

How to Install a Toilet: Step One

Install the bowl
Once you’ve got the old toilet off and the installation area is prepared, you’re ready to install the new toilet. To make sure you’re new unit will sit level, set the bowl on the floor flange. If you can’t get it level easily, you’ll need to add wooden shims. In this case, cut the shims to size now so they’ll be handy when you’re ready to install.

After checking that the bowl will fit properly, you can prepare the floor flange. Insert a bolt, thread-side up, in each of the holes on the sides of the flange and add a washer to each bolt. Use some plumber’s putty or wax to hold the bolts straight and keep them lined up with the center of the waste water pipe.

At this point, you’ll need to install the wax ring that goes over the floor flange. You can do this either by attaching it to the floor flange or by attaching it to the toilet bowl. You may find it easier to attach it to the flange first. To do this, just press the wax ring, tapered side up (flat side down), over the flange. You could also install this ring by turning the toilet bowl over and fitting the ring onto the waste outlet on the bottom of the bowl.

Now apply plumber’s putty to the whole bottom edge of the bowl to help hold it in place on the floor. Lift the toilet bowl over the flange, lining up the holes in the base with the floor flange bolts, and lower the bowl so it’s centered on the wax ring and both bolts come through holes. Press the bowl into place using an even pressure; don’t rock or twist the bowl. You should be able to feel the bowl settle into the wax ring. If you don’t, it means the seal isn’t secure. Keep in mind that, being wax, the ring needs to be at least room temperature to be soft enough to install properly.

Using a carpenter’s level, check that the bowl is level and aligned with the wall. If you need to add wooden shims, do so now. Finally, place washers and nuts on the bolts and tighten them by hand. Be careful not to over-tighten or you could crack the porcelain.

How to Install a Toilet: Step Two

Install the tank
If you’re going to use a rubber tank cushion, put it in place behind the bowl now. Fit on the large rubber washer that connects the tank to the bowl and make sure it’s firmly in place. Working on the inside of the tank, fit the small rubber tank washers into the tank holes, then put the bolts in. Now lower the tank onto the back of the bowl, guiding the tank bolts into the holes. Finally, add the washers and nuts and tighten them down, taking care that the tank stays level. When you’ve got to the tank in place, use a level to make sure it sits evenly. The last step in the tank installation is to connect the flush handle of the tank to the flapper chain.

How to Install a Toilet: Step Three

Hook up the water supply
Before installing the supply line, you’ll need to bend the line to fit between the stop-valve and the tank fitting and cut it to length. After this, put the plastic nut in place, followed by the compression nut and the compression ring. Now put the supply line in the outlet and attach the compression ring. Tighten the plastic nut by hand to avoid cracking the porcelain and use a wrench to tighten the compression nut.

Using plumber’s putty or silicone caulk, seal the base of the bowl for extra stability and leak prevention. Now you’re ready to test the toilet. Turn the water supply back on, open the stop valve, and let the tank fill with water. Adjust the tank float as needed. Finally, flush the toilet several times and check for leaks.

When you learn how to install a toilet yourself, you’ll not only save money by not having to call a plumber, but you’ll save time by not having to wait for an opening in the plumber’s schedule. Install a toilet that’s water efficient and you can lower your water bills, too.

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