HOW TO PICK OUT AND INSTALL A TOILET.

Your toilet broke didn’t it?  Or you’re upgrading to one of those newer ones that doesn’t have those weird squiggles on the side that look like intestines. Whatever the reason, don’t hire someone to install a new toilet – you can easily install it yourself.

Abandoned, old toilet sitting in snow and dirt in backyard.

Honestly, the hardest part of installing a new toilet, is getting rid of the old one. Please enjoy the photo of my old USELESS toilet that contributed to thousands of dollars in sewer line repairs.

Not a single week goes by that I don’t look out my window and see some sort of plumbing company truck pulling into a nearby driveway. They often arrive in a 24 karat gold plumbing van wearing suits made out of money and vacation homes.

My entire city is experiencing some kind of crumbling sewer line infrastructure and the only people happy about it are the plumbers. And maybe the people who make 24 karat gold plumbing trucks.

So let’s talk toilets.

I had a crappy toilet.  Now I have a great one.  And here’s why.

Last month I got rid of the horrible, low flow toilet I owned because it couldn’t even flush a single piece of toilet paper at times. I headed to a plumbing supply store and begged for help.  I may have cried. I’m not sure, it’s all a bit of a blur.

The manager of the store steered me away from the toilet I was looking at and said to go with either the American Standard Cadet or the American Standard Studio.  

And then every plumber that was in the store at the time agreed with him.  It was a chorus of plumbers saying “Oh yeah, I just put that one in my basement, I just put that one in my mother’s house, I’m here picking that one up for my customer” … and so on.  I got both.  I got the bowl of the Studio line, and the tank of the Cadet, because I wanted a regular flush handle, not a push button, and the Studio line doesn’t come with a regular flush handle.

TIPS FOR BUYING A NEW TOILET.

1. Check the MaP (Maximum Performance) rating of your toilet. Anything over 800 is good. Over 1000 is GREAT. Avoid anything that has a MaP rating under that if you want a powerful flush and little chance of clogging.
2. Pay attention to the bowl shape. Round bowls are shorter and elongated ones are longer. If you are really cramped for space you’ll save a couple of inches by getting a round bowl.

3. One piece toilets are usually heavier and harder to install yourself. If you’re doing this on your own, a two piece toilet make not look as sleek, but it’ll be easier for you to maneuver into place and drag up the stairs by yourself.

4. Bowl height? Yes, toilets come in different heights with the majority of toilets now being “comfort height”. Which are only comfortable if you’re relatively tall. If you’re short you may find your legs dangling.

5. If you hate looking at the side of a toilet that looks like its colon is showing, get a skirted bowl. The “guts” of the toilet are concealed, so the toilet has nice smooth sides that are nicer to look at and easier to clean.

6. The toilet seat is where you’ll actually set yourself down so get a good one. Options are heated seats, bidet seats and slow close (slamless) seats.

 

The American Standard Studio that I went with has a MaP rating of over 1000. I had NO idea there was such a big difference in toilets and how well they flush.  Like I said, I just figured low flow toilets didn’t work well.  As it turns out, only certain low flow toilets don’t work well.

This one works great.

How great?  As soon as I installed it I contacted American Standard and told them.  They of course were pleased, and agreed to sponsor my video on How to Install a Toilet.  (Like always I only do sponsored content when I’ve actually already bought the product and love it.  I then contact the company and ask if they’d like to work together) Yes YOU CAN install your own toilet.  In fact, it’s one of the easiest home improvement jobs you can do.  It’ll take 1-2 hours depending on how confident you are.

Is it hard to install a toilet?

Not at all. It just looks scary.  But it takes time and of course is terrifying because you’ve never done it before and you’re afraid it isn’t going to work.

Do you need a plumber to install a toilet?

Not at all.  If you’re just removing an old toilet and replacing it with a new one any homeowner can do it themselves.  If, on the other hand, you want to install a toilet where one doesn’t exist already, like in the middle of your living room, then you’ll probably want a plumber for that job because it’s a much bigger job. 

How to Install a Toilet Yourself.

  1. Turn off the water supply. If it’s stuck use WD40 and/or vice grips.
  2. Flush toilet.
  3. Soak up water from tank & bowl with towel.
  4. Remove the tank by undoing bolts underneath at the back.
  5. Remove the toilet by undoing the bolts holding it to the floor.
  6. Haul away your tank and toilet. You’re now toiletless!
  7. Plug the now open drain hole with toilet paper or a rag to stop sewer gasses from coming into the bathroom.
  8. Scrape up any wax from the wax ring left on the flange.
  9. Install your new bolts to the toilet flange and finger tighten them.
  10. Apply a new wax seal to the new toilet.
  11. Lift the toilet onto its bolts, being careful not to damage the wax seal.
  12. Secure the tank to the toilet bowl.
  13. Rehook up water.
  14. Flush and adjust the float.
  15. You rock!

 

Those are your steps.  Here is the video of me removing my old toilet and installing my new one.  It shows me actually doing all the steps above, so watch this video before you install your own toilet. It’ll help make things much easier to understand.

When you watch it you’ll see that because I used a two piece toilet instead of a one piece, I was able to easily lift it myself.  It would have been much harder if this had been a one piece toilet which is why … I bought a 2 piece.

Now that I have a good looking toilet that actually works, maybe I’ll actually look into redoing this bathroom.  It’s really the only room left in the house that’s still a disaster.

Newly homeowner installed American Standard toilet with skirted bowl.

That’s really all there is to installing a toilet.  Sure something’s gonna go wrong.  The water line is going to get knocked and spray water everywhere, or you’re going to get part of the wax seal in your hair or you’ll find out your water supply line is too short for your new toilet and you have to go buy a new one.

But all in all, installing a toilet is really one of the easiest jobs you can do in your home. Way easier than installing a new dishwasher or teaching whoever you live with to put the dishes in the dishwasher, not the sink.

And definitely easier than using your neighbour’s bathroom every time you have to go because you’re too afraid to use your own crappy toilet.

 

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HOW TO PICK OUT AND INSTALL A TOILET.

100 Comments

  1. Monique says:

    Applause.
    Excellent video..nice toilet:)
    You’re one of a kind Karen.

  2. Jen says:

    Here’s a tip for those who live in the Southwestern US (and maybe this is applicable to all hot climates). Call the city water dept first and make sure they have treated the lines for sewer roaches FIRST. It is a phone call that I will never forget. Of course, when you are feeling like a bad-ass and replacing your first toilet all by yourself, only to run screaming from your house jumping and slapping your arms and hands like a person on a bad drug trip, well, the memory sticks. (And if by some chance you do forget, the neighbors are really happy to remind you…they’re helpful like that.)

    Make the call.

  3. Pat says:

    I have had that toilet for a year and love it because of how easy it is to clean with the lid popping off. The flush and the slow close are both so quiet. When I show people our last renovations the toilet is my favourite feature!! Ya, that’s what it comes down to, a toilet that brings us joy!

  4. billy sharpstick says:

    I’ve installed or reinstalled probably a dozen toilets. I never have anyone to help. The toilet location is usually a very narrow space with no room on either side. (If I was designing my own house with unlimited budget, I would design the bathroom so there is three feet on each side of the toilet, just so I can work on them more easily. Come to think of it, if I could afford to do that, I could afford a plumber.) Here are a few observations on that process:

    I will never ever use a wax ring again! Hoisting and then slowly lowering a sixty(?) pound toilet down over the bolts and wax ring singlehandedly has never worked well for me.
    My typical installation:
    Carefully lower the toilet down over the bolts, which are completely invisible when you’re standing bowlegged over the toilet holding it. The bolts tend to shift and rotate and sometimes pull loose completely in the process. Then lift the toilet back off, scrape off the ruined wax ring, put one of the spare wax rings on, and try again.

    Recently I discovered foam rubber rings that are reusable. They cost more than a wax ring, but less than THREE wax rings and the aggravation that they cause. Wax rings tend to loosen up if there is ever any play in your toilet that isn’t fixed. About one out of five toilets do have some movement when you sit on them. Eventually the wax ring in them will loosen up. A plastic one won’t.

    I’ve used cleaner bits of the old wax ring, or caulking to sort of glue the bolts in place so they don’t shift.

    For some reason, I’m usually too lazy to remove the tank first, but even the bowl part is pretty heavy and awkward without any help.
    Putting some 2×4 scraps on the floor to rest the weight of the toilet on before seating it is helpful. Position it on the blocks. Carefully locate properly, then remove one block at a time and rock the toilet into place.

    Someday, the poor shmuck who has to remove this toilet will be grateful that there isn’t a filthy disgusting black wax ring that he has to scrape off. (That poor shmuck might be me in five years! I always think of future shmuck when doing any house repairs. That’s why I NEVER use nails. Screws are removable. Nails never do without serious destruction.)

    As long as you have the toilet out of the way, this is a good opportunity to replace that crusty old stiff oval handle supply valve that is twenty years old. I replace them with quarter turn ball valves that last longer and are easier to operate.
    I’ve seen a recommendation to replace the supply line every time you remove it because the rubber seals tend to wear. If they don’t look too bad, I reuse them. They are cheap compared to repairing water leak damage some day. I always use steel braided lines.

    I also recommend flood alarms in all areas that someday WILL have water leaking. Under sinks, water heater, dishwasher, behind toilets. They are nothing more than a small box with a battery powered shrieking alarm with electrical contacts that sit on the floor and are sensitive to moisture. Under ten bucks.

  5. Lynne says:

    Wooooohhoooo! Perfect timing. We are about to install a new toilet! THANK YOU, thank you, thank YOU.

    PS. I made a recipe for a homemade version poopourri/toilet spray and I have a stinking ? feeling you may LOVE it. It works, and saves a zillion trillion million dollars. Your new toilet and bathroom will be stinky free too. ha!

    DIY recipe for toilet spray

    Lynne ? haha

  6. Grammy says:

    Nice toilet! Good video, too. I have a tip that some people might want to try if for some reason a nifty new toilet isn’t an option right away. We had two low flow toilets that never flushed worth a damn, and we hated them. We figured you just have to live with it. Over a few years we had replaced various pieces inside the tank, thinking maybe this little part or that one is the culprit. Nothing helped. Then one of the toilets took to “running” every now and then for no reason. And something (I think my husband used a plunger too hard) bumped the other one so hard that it started running nonstop.

    The toilets weren’t all that old, so I went down to the hardware store and looked around and decided that maybe replacing the whole valve assembly would be required to stop the running till we could get around to replacing both toilets. The things were around $15 dollars each (I’m in the U.S.) The only problems I had with the whole thing was the very close quarters on the water supply side in both bathrooms. It took me longer to get the old parts out than it did to install and adjust the new ones. But I got both done in one afternoon, and that included the trip to the hardware store.

    The valves worked — no more running. And no leaks. And here’s the zinger: both toilets flush much better than they did when they were new! Gone are the days of needing to flush twice nearly every time. So maybe some of your readers might try the valve fix first, if the toilet is in fairly good shape. If it doesn’t solve it, they can follow your fabulous instructions and they will have only wasted an extra $15.

  7. whitequeen96 says:

    You are amazing, and I bow to you in awe!

  8. peg says:

    if you redo bathroom,keep the flooring. :D

  9. Milton says:

    I have several American Standard toilets and they are great. Low flow toilets were terrible when they first came out, they have been improved greatly in recent years. I’ve never seen a skirted style like you chose but, while stylish, it looks like a maintenance nightmare to me- it is a good thing you can do-it-yourself so easily. How did you tighten the bolt on the right side- I’ve never seen a toilet so close to the wall, with so little clearance and hardware which looks so hard to access. Forget what I said about a bidet attachment being easy to install on this style toilet- I can’t see how the seat is installed which is necessary to have easy access to for a bidet attachment (as opposed to a bidet seat which are much more expensive usually). Also, the water supply line looks impossible to replace without removing the tank so I would go with the best stainless flexible line I could find to make that job as infrequent as humanly possible. You are fearless to go where most men aren’t comfortable working.

    • Karen says:

      :) There’s *just* enough room for me to maneuver a screw on the right side of the toilet. And there’s no maintenance issues with having a skirted toilet. The only difference is how it bolts to the floor. Skirted from the side, non-skirted on the floor. ~ karen!

  10. Now that is a sexy looking toilet! We replaced our toilet when we gutted our laundry/powder room and it makes all the difference when you don’t have to ask your friends to only flush a few pieces of loo paper down at a time otherwise it will get stuck. Thankfully those embarrassing days are over!

  11. Jim says:

    Karen
    It must be 5 years ago now that I replaced all 3 toilets with American Standard low flow toilets. I chose them because I could fix the mechanism inside when necessary.
    There was a rebate at the time from the Provincial government.
    The 2nd thing I found was our water bill dropped by 50%.
    The other thing to look at is if you are a senior the higher rise is the easier (looks nicer) than special seats that increase the height.
    I also installed supply lines that have a feature that stops the flow of water if there is a leak.
    My plumber friends tell me they remove them frequently when they stop the flow for no reason.
    Mine are fine so far.

  12. Rondina says:

    You talked me into the American Standard, but out of doing it myself. I used to reset one-piece toilets at the old house. The one-piece isn’t any heavier than a skirted toilet. Now, I’ve had back surgery, neck surgery, and one rotator cuff repaired. I call the plumber now.

    Go for that no slam toilet seat. Even without a man in the house, I still have to think about the cat. I switched out from the cheap one they had. It was worth the money.

    I’d like to say that it’s just that easy, but anytime you open something up to repair it, you don’t know what’s going to happen. If you are going to do it, do it on a day when you can get a plumber to your house without paying overtime.

  13. Connie says:

    Oops! the stubborn 3″ plastic screw; the nut was seemingly cemented on but the hack saw did the trick! I was so happy!

    I never would have tackled that job if I hadn’t read so many of your posts encouraging us to tackle projects. Thank you so much for your determination and encouragement!

  14. Connie says:

    I just replaced my toilet seat; I was perfectly happy with the old plastic seat until I spent four days dog-sitting for my sister and used her nice firm wooden one.

    I Googled how to replace it and found what promised to be “four easy steps”! The first three steps involved taking the old seat off, which took over an hour due to my lack of power tools, the tight squeeze between the toilet and vanity and stopping because of back pain from bending over and kneeling on the ceramic floor. Plus I almost split my head open on the vanity counter! I finally took a hack saw to the stubborn

  15. Sarah says:

    Yay! We just bought two toilets to replace our vintage ones that came with the house. The old ones are from the 1960s. (blech)

    • Sera says:

      Ooh, were they play pink? My bathroom tile is from the 70s. It’s almond with brown flowers because you know, when you think of flowers – brown. Ugh.

      • Sarah says:

        Surprisingly, no! They were white, which is probably why the three or four previous owners kept them. It just grosses me out to think of all the people who have used them before us. :) And they’re terribly wasteful–every flush depletes the ocean just a bit.

  16. Danni says:

    Don’t forget the new, non-revolting wax ring, or people will cry!

  17. Helen Whaley says:

    This makes me feel so empowered. Not that I’ve replaced a toilet yet, but now I know that I can!!
    Thank you.

  18. Sue says:

    Several years ago my daughter and I installed a new toilet in her upstairs bathroom. We had a laptop with a “This Old House” video to use as a guide. Went smooth as could be – until it started to drip. We tried everything to get it to stop, checked every bolt and gasket (well, how ever many there are) and finally put a bowl under the drip and went to bed.
    We called a handyman the next morning who said after he arrived that he always carried a spare supply line with him. Which he used to replace the old one. His tip of the day was to never replace a toilet without replacing the old supply line; if the toilet is old enough to be replaced then most likely the supply line is too. Good to know!

  19. MissChris SA says:

    Gobsmacked!!
    You are every man’s dream woman!!
    I would not even attempt that and you make it look so easy!

    • Karen says:

      It is easy. :) That’s why I did a post on it to prove it’s incredibly easy. ANYONE can do it. If they can lift the toilet that is. ~ karen!

  20. Margaret K. says:

    You might want to add the wax ring installation to your text list of steps. It’s pretty important!

    I replaced my mom’s toilets – now I should do my own because it’s one of the low-flow #&*&$#^ that was all we could get back when we put it in.

  21. Kat says:

    Good Job Karen. I can not even count how many toilets I have replaced by myself. I am a renter and it seems every place I rent, it has a crappy shitter and of course I replace them ASAP! I hate those wax rings. Also in every single one I always have to repaint as there is always that horrid unpainted rectangle from the old toilet that is not the same as the new one and no one thought of painting behind the tank!

  22. Marilynn says:

    No, Karen, you rock!

  23. Rick says:

    Good video. Should encourage a few people to do it themselves. Pity though that your Pfister didn’t work. We have that model and it’s the best toilet we’ve ever had.

    • Karen says:

      You may have a Pfister but maybe you don’t have this exact model. I don’t know which it was. Other than the awful one, lol. The biggest concern of mine was the company didn’t seem to think anything of the fact that it didn’t work for me! ~ karen

  24. Paula says:

    We put in a toilet and sink upstairs in our house yesterday. I am so happy to have a toilet on the second floor! No more 3am trips down the stairs when it is very, very cold.

    • Karen says:

      Oh! A toilet upstairs. That’d be a luxury to me. ;) ~ karen!

    • TK says:

      My husband and I did so much of the repair work in my mom’s condo after water intrusion damage because of the mind boggling incompetence of the people we paid. We could not find competent work ANYWHERE. Yet these are the nitwits building houses? Ominous!

      We saved the original toilets that we had to remove and reinstall because of new flooring when we did the first rehab. We put in new tank guts, braided steel lines, seals, bolts, washers, handles and seats on the first upgrade and paid our neighborhood handyman for the job, which he botched. We watched YT videos, then had to reseat and tighten the tank bolts and put in floor shims and tank braces to make everything rock solid, as well as readjust the flush valves. NOTE to add = NEVER overtighten tank bolts! So we were out $300 on that round.

      Then after the water damage 18 months later, the shitforbrains “repair” workers cracked two tanks and one lid by standing on them to plaster and paint.

      I decided feckit, I’m selling this nightmare. This required all low flow toilets for new city codes. I had a setback issue (NOTE to measure your setback to make sure the toilet will fit!) and that meant I needed a 10″ setback, which gave me one option for the guest bath. Replacing baseboards made that much of a difference. The two upstairs I had more options, but I must have spent 10 hours reading reviews. NOTE to open the toilet box in the parking lot and check for any CRACKS, that the base is pretty level, and that all parts are present. Defect level can be high.

      Doing the toilets ourselves prior to listing the property allowed us to put in quality $250 each toilets instead of the $75 garbage ones the retrofit company was going to use. We did all the required misc retrofit ourselves and did a superior job and saved $700.

      That’s along with having to repair substandard drywall, ruined windows and sliding doors and door frames and medicine cabinets etc, plus repaint everything twice, and cleaning up all the additional damage from the mess they left everywhere, like plaster dust in everything and paint splatter on every window and screen.

  25. Mel says:

    Oh noes! The video is private.

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