How to install a toilet in a single afternoon

When it comes to installing a new toilet, it is possible to get the job done quickly and correctly. To help the process run smoothly, consider the style, size, height and efficiency of your new toilet before taking the plunge. Choosing the right toilet can add value to your home and ensure years of happy flushing. Here’s how to install a toilet in six key steps.

How to install a toilet in a single afternoon

Time: 2 hours to half a day
Frequency: N/A
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Tools: Screwdriver, adjustable wrenches, mini hacksaw, cloth rag, putty knife, plumber’s putty, caulk, gloves

Step 1: Choose a new toilet

Take your time selecting a new toilet. Consider the size of the bathroom and type of toilet suitable for your family.

  • Height: Toilets generally come in two different bowl heights – standard 35.5 cm to 38.1 cm (14 in. to 15 in.) and chair height, around 45.7 cm (18 in.). Consider a chair height toilet for large or tall people, or anyone with leg and back issues.
  • Bowl Shape: Round bowls take up less space, while elongated bowls are about 5 cm (2 in.) deeper and offer a larger, more comfortable seating area.
  • Flush Mechanism: The higher its performance rating, the more waste the flush mechanism can dispose of and the better its clog resistance.
  • Water Usage: Consider a high efficiency toilet (HET) or dual flush toilet (solid waste or liquids only) to conserve water.

Step 2: Remove the existing toilet

Now that you’ve selected a new toilet, you’re ready to begin. To remove the old toilet:

  • Turn off the water supply line. Flush the toilet to drain the tank and toilet bowl, and sponge both dry.
  • Disconnect both ends of the water supply tube.
  • Remove the nuts and bolts using a wrench.
  • Rock the toilet gently, lift it and move it out of the way (for a two-piece toilet, remove the tank and then the bowl).

Step 3: Prepare the surrounding area

With the old toilet gone, prepare the floor and toilet flange for the new one.

  • Stuff a rag into the floor hole to prevent sewer gases from escaping and hardware from falling in.
  • Scrape up old wax and debris from the toilet flange and surrounding area with a putty knife.
  • The existing flange doesn’t usually need replacing, but it’s a good idea to replace the two 4.8 mm (3/16 in.) flange bolts.

Good to know!
Installing a toilet involves some heaving lifting. Remember to lift with your legs and consider asking a friend to help.

Step 4: Install the toilet

You’re now ready to move ahead with a basic toilet installation. Make sure you have the manufacturer’s instructions, required tools and materials handy.

  • Place the toilet upside down. Press the wax ring onto the toilet horn and press it down firmly.
  • Remove the rag from the drainage hole, lift the toilet upright and place it over the closet bolts.
  • Rock the toilet back and forth to press the wax ring in place.
  • Fasten the bolts securely with washers and retaining nuts, and cover them with the caps. If the caps don’t fit, use a hacksaw to shorten the bolts.

Good to know!
If the bolt caps are loose, use plumber’s putty to secure them. Never over-tighten the bolts, otherwise you may crack the ceramic.

Step 5: Install the tank

If you are installing a one-piece toilet, you can skip this section. If you have a two-piece with separate tank and bowl, then:

  • Place the rubber gasket on the bottom of the toilet bowl tank.
  • Turn the tank back over and feed anchor bolts through the bottom.
  • Lower the tank onto the back of the toilet, sliding the bolts into the holes.
  • Tighten the nuts underneath to securely fit in place.

Step 6: Connect the water

Last, but not least, you’re ready to connect the toilet to the water supply:

  • Connect the supply tube to the bottom of the tank and tighten by hand.
  • Connect the other side of the supply tube to the shut off valve. Tighten the nut by hand, then secure it with a wrench.
  • Turn on the water supply and allow the tank to fill.
  • Test by flushing several times and checking around the base for leaks. If there are any, tighten the connections.
  • To finish, caulk around the base of the toilet.

With a few tools, a little elbow grease and an afternoon to spare, a basic toilet installation is well within your reach. Follow these steps and you’ll soon have a new, efficient model your family can rely on for years to come.

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