Installing a toilet seems like an intimidating DIY project but it's surprisingly easy to do yourself. Once you choose one you just need a few basic tools and a good step-by-step guide.
Most people don't even consider installing their own toilet. Not because it's such a complicated task, but because screwing up a toilet install? That has bigger consequences than other home DIY tasks.
If you hang a picture in the wrong place, you move it, fill the nail hole in the wall then forget about it. If you install your toilet the wrong way the result could involve you being chased by poops.
That isn't the sort of thing you ever forget.
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How to Install a Toilet
This is one of the easiest home improvement jobs you can tackle. It's way easier for instance than pouring self levelling concrete.
It also scores very high on the official bragging rights scale because it impresses most people; most people not knowing how simple it is to do.
It'll take 2-3 hours. About the same time as making a pumpkin pie. Maybe 4 if you run into a bit of trouble.
- Toilet (bowl and tank should come with bolts etc.)
- Wax Ring
- Wood shims
- Masking Tape
- Adjustable wrench
- Vice grips
- Caulking gun
- Tape Measure
STEP 1. Turn off the water supply. If it's stuck, use WD40 and/or vice grips.
STEP 2. Flush the toilet.
STEP 3. Soak up any remaining water from the tank & bowl with a towel and/or small bowl.
STEP 4. Undo the water supply line.
STEP 5. Remove the tank from the base by removing the bolts located inside and underneath the tank.
STEP 7. Remove the bolts holding the toilet to the floor and haul away your tank and toilet. You're now toiletless!
STEP 8. Plug the now open drain hole with toilet paper or a rag to stop sewer gasses from coming into the bathroom.
STEP 9. Scrape up any wax from the wax ring left on the flange and inspect it. If it's cracked or broken, remove the flange using a reciprocating saw, hammer and chisel and replace it with a new one.
STEP 10. Install your new bolts to the toilet flange and finger tighten them. This secures the toilet to the floor. Make sure they're in the right place by measuring from the wall.
STEP 11. Apply a new wax seal to the new toilet.
STEP 12. For a skirted toilet you won't be able to see the bolts as you set the toilet down. Mark the centre of the bolts with masking tape on the floor.
STEP 13. Lower the toilet to the floor then sit or crouch on it to help set the wax seal. Hand tighten the bolts to finish setting the toilet.
STEP 14. Attach the water supply line to the tank.
STEP 15. Secure the tank to the toilet bowl. My toilet came with a little tool for tightening the nuts. Hook the water supply line up to the water source.
STEP 16. Flush the toilet, check for leaks and adjust the float. If you have leaks from the water line tighten the connections. If the leak is from the tank tighten the tank bolts. If it still leaks, remove the tank and make sure the gasket is placed correctly.
STEP 17. Flush the toilet again and check for leaks underneath the toilet. If there is leakage your wax seal wasn't set properly. You'll need to remove the base, remove the wax seal and attach a new one.
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 and make you feel more confident that you can do this.
Installing a toilet with roughed in plumbing
If you're working with a new build and are working with roughed in plumbing there are only 2 extra steps you'll possibly have to take.
- Installing a soil pipe.
- Adding on the closet flange.
All the other steps will be the same.
Toilet Buying Tips
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 on so get a good one. Options are heated seats, bidet seats and slow close (slamless) seats.
The bowl that I went with has a MaP rating of over 1000 (the Cadet). 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.
As a general rule it's pretty darn easy. 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.
Nope. If you're just removing an old toilet and replacing it with a new one any homeowner can do it themselves.
Most building codes require that toilets be caulked to the floor after installation to help keep the toilet stable and to prevent odour and gases from leaking out of the sewer line.
If your bolts are tightened and everything is set properly but your toilet has a bit of a wobble to it, add shims. They'll stabilize it and prevent it from cracking.
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.
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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