How to Replace a Toilet

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:

Now tell me something, would your bathroom benefit from an updated toilet, but, well, maybe you’re intimidated about taking on that project? Well, Kelly and Kate Miller are, so that’s why I’m headed down to Ashville, North Carolina to lend them a hand.
RON HAZELTON:
So this is the victim here, huh?
KATE:
Yeah, this is the victim.
RON HAZELTON:
Now, Kate, you're from England, you don't call this a toilet in England, do you?
KATE:
No, we call it a loo, which I think is a derivation of the word, water, which came from the word water closet, which was what it used to be called and —
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
RON HAZELTON:
So this is loo.
KATE:
— here, we call it the loo.
RON HAZELTON:
Right, so what's wrong with loo?
KELLY:
Well, loo has a few problems. Loo, as you can see, is crooked.
RON HAZELTON:
Ohm yeah, back here, it's kind of cocked up at an angle, okay.
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
KELLY:
And also, Ron, loo has a hole up there.
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
RON HAZELTON:
Didn't notice that before. Okay. Those are two very good reasons to change it. You ever done this before?
KELLY:
I did it one time before and I was told oh, it's about a two-hour job. Just go get a wax ring, no problem. Just bolt it down. I think 10 hours later and four scabby knuckles, I —I finally got it in. It was —
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
RON HAZELTON:
You were able to do it in 10.
[LAUGHTER]
I haven't been able to do this in about two days myself. Actually, it's not a difficult job, but a lot of people look at a toilet and they go, oh, I'm not touching that. You know, it's just big, big problems.
KELLY:
Sure.
RON HAZELTON:
So I think we can get through this easily and we'll, you know, try to avoid what happened last time.
KELLY:
Great.
RON HAZELTON:
Our first step is to turn off the water supply to the tank. The shutoff valve is located on the wall behind the toilet. Next, we remove the water from the tank by flushing and then holding the drain valve up. We'll soak up the rest with a sponge.

So Kelly you want to start and just take out the rest of it in the tank.

I unscrew the float to get it out of Kelly's way. And it only takes a minute or two for him to remove the remaining water from the tank. Now it's time to empty the standing water from the bowl. Kate gets ready for the task at hand.
KATE:
This is how I clean, yeah. I've got to protect the hands too, so this is how I clean, my gloves.
RON HAZELTON:
Doctor, are you read for —
[LAUGHTER]
KATE:
Well, this is a, this is a dirty job here so — okay. We're ready —
RON HAZELTON:
Actually, this water looks dirty in here, but that's really the scale that came out of the bottom of the tank, so it's not as bad as —yeah, I think it's —

With all of the water emptied out, Kate loosens the nut that attaches the water line to the tank and pulls the line free.
RON HAZELTON:
Well, we're ready to detach this toilet from the floor. Now, it's held down by two bolts. And if you lift off this decorative cover right here, you'll see them right there. Oh, this is very, very badly rusted.

In fact, these bolts which we'd normally remove with a wrench have rusted completely through. This bead of caulking is the only thing holding the toilet in place. So we use a utility knife to cut the seal.

Okay.
KELLY:
All right.
RON HAZELTON:
That means it should come straight up now. There you go, all right.
KELLY:
All righty.
KATE:
Cheerio.
RON HAZELTON:
Say goodbye to old loo here.
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
KELLY:
Bye, old loo.
RON HAZELTON:
This is a wax ring right here and we're gonna take that off next.
KATE:
This is made of, of wax?
RON HAZELTON:
Actually, yes, made of beeswax and again, kind of a simple primitive idea but it works. It actually makes a very good seal between the bottom of the toilet and this flange right here. Not very attractive looking. It looks worse than it really is. We're gonna replace that.

Kelly and Kate remove the wax ring with putty knives, then scrape the remaining wax from the flange. Before we bring in the new toilet, or in this household, the new loo, Kate replaces the water supply line. I almost always recommend this when installing a toilet or sink.

Older lines often lose their seal after being disturbed. Now, we're ready to install the new loo.

Vitreous china, same thing your dinnerware's made out of.
[LAUGHTER]
Got a fork —
KELLY:
No eating out of the toilet bowl.
[LAUGHTER]
RON HAZELTON:
Now, this is your new wax ring right here.
KATE:
I can't believe —

KELLY:
Do you, Kate, take me —
[LAUGHTER]
RON HAZELTON:
It's got a plastic ring here. This hose goes up, at least it goes away from the toilet.
KELLY:
You know, I think in the previous toilet I replaced many years ago, I think I actually put this down first, and then tried to put the toilet on top of that —
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
KATE:
Yeah. I think that, that's what I was thinking that you probably did.
RON HAZELTON:
Next, we pack some plumber's putty into the slots on the flange. The putty will help hold these two bolts upright.

Now I want it to go right over the top of those bolts.

Kelly and I lower the new toilet into place, so that the bolts extend through the holes in the base.

Just press down on this, directly down. Don't rock it, don't wiggle it, just press it down with as much weight as you can put onto it. That's gonna compress the wax ring and give us our seal. If you rock it or twist it, then it breaks the seal, we have to take it off and put a new one on.

Next, Kelly slips a nut cover base over each bolt, followed by a washer and nut. These bolts are pre-scored so that the excess can be broken off with pliers. Had they not been scored, we'd have to cut them off with the hacksaw.

There we go, beautiful. All right, so this is our water tank. And we've got three bolts, one here, one here and one here.
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
Three holes right here, one, two and three, okay.
KELLY:
All right.
RON HAZELTON:
So just sort of turn it up vertically there.
KATE:
Okay.
RON HAZELTON:
Bring it on back. Back a little bit further, a little bit further. Okay, drop it down. There's a seal right there that's gonna make a water tight seal, okay. Now if you guys will hold that right there, I'm gonna reach inside the tank and I'm just gonna push those bolts down so they go all the way through, like that.

With the bolts fully extended, we slip on a washer and nut and tighten with a socket wrench. As we do so, we check to see if the tank is level.

Now a little bit lower on Kelly's side. So keep tightening that down. As you tighten that nut down, you're gonna compress that rubber grommet that's under there. You see it's bringing it into level now.
KELLY:
There, okay, looks good.
RON HAZELTON:
Well, this is your toilet seat, known by some as the throne.
[LAUGHTER]
And very — very simply to install these but there is a little trick actually. It's attached with a nylon bolt, dropped through this hole right here. And even though it doesn't look like it, this is actually a nut, a cylindrical nut. And the reason it's shaped like that is it will sort of jam itself into this hole under here and it won't spin around as we tighten it up.

So I usually start these by screwing the nut on the bottom like that.
KATE:
Okay.
RON HAZELTON:
But you can't really finish tightening it from the bottom. Notice there's a slot here in the top. So I'm just gonna drop a screwdriver in here. Now that nut will not spin.

Because of the way it's shaped, it's sort of biting into the inside of that hole now. So we don't have to worry about reaching under there.
KATE:
Okay, Kelly, we've got our crowning moment here.
KELLY:
Kind of like the toilet tiara there.
RON HAZELTON:
Kind of handsome throne it is.
KELLY:
Yes, it is.
RON HAZELTON:
How was it?
KELLY:
It wasn't that bad. We took our time on the wax ring, the plumbing, no leaks. It wasn't bad at all.
RON HAZELTON:
Easier than last time, huh?
KATE:
Yeah.
KELLY:
Much easier.
RON HAZELTON:
One more to do downstairs.
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
We'll see how it works.
[FLUSHES TOILET]
It's great, sounds good.
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]

KATE:
Terrific.
KELLY:
Hey, how about a cold beer?
RON HAZELTON:
I'd love a cold beer. All right, thanks.
KELLY:
All right?
RON HAZELTON:
Yeah. Hey, guys, down or up?
KELLY:
Up.
KATE:
Down.
KELLY:
Up.
  KATE:
Down.
RON HAZELTON:
You know what, you're newlyweds, this can be your first compromise. I'll leave it up to you to work it out.

Install a New Stylish Vitreous China Toilet to Replace Your Stained, Damaged, or Leaking Model

Replace your damaged or mal-functioning bathroom toilet or just update the old model with one of hundreds of available colors, styles, or materials. An assortment of wrenches, a putty knife, a screwdriver, and a bucket and sponge are the required tools. The hardest part of this DIY toilet installation is lifting the heavy units into place.

Turn off the Toilet Water Supply at the Shut-off Valve
Step 1

Turn off the Toilet Water Supply at the Shut-off Valve

Turn the shutoff valve on the wall behind the tank clockwise to cut the water supply to the toilet.

Remove Water from the Toilet Tank and Bowl
Step 2

Remove Water from the Toilet Tank and Bowl

Drain water from the toilet tank by flushing and keeping the drain valve in the tank bottom open by holding the lever up. Soak up remaining water in the tank and bowl with a sponge and bucket.

Loosen the Nut Attaching the Water Line to the Tank
Step 3

Loosen the Nut Attaching the Water Line to the Tank

Use an adjustable wrench to loosen the nut that attaches the water line to the toilet tank and then pull the line free. Keep a towel handy to mop up any residual water.

Detail the Bathroom Toilet from the Floor
Step 4

Detail the Bathroom Toilet from the Floor

Remove decorative covers from the bolts holding the toilet to the floor. Remove the nuts from the bolts. Use a utility knife to cut any caulking seal around the base, and lift the toilet up and out of the way.

Remove the Wax Ring from the Toilet Drain Flange
Step 5

Remove the Wax Ring from the Toilet Drain Flange

Remove the old wax ring from drain flange, using a putty knife to lift it and scrape remaining waxy residue and debris. Note that the plastic collar in the wax ring faces downward into the drain.

Replace the Old Water Supply Line on the Shut-off Valve
Step 6

Replace the Old Water Supply Line on the Shut-off Valve

Replace the water supply line on the water shut-off valve. Older lines may lose their seal after being disturbed, so a new one is just good preventive maintenance--especially when it is so easily accessed with the toilet removed.

Install a New Wax Ring on the Toilet Bottom
Step 7

Install a New Wax Ring on the Toilet Bottom

Add a new wax ring to bottom of toilet with its plastic ring facing away from the underside of the toilet. The plastic ring must fit downward against the floor drain flange once the toilet is installed.

Set Toilet in Place with Bolts Extending through the Base
Step 8

Set Toilet in Place with Bolts Extending through the Base

Pack plumber's putty in flange slots to hold bolts upright. Set the toilet in place carefully with bolts extending through the base. Press down without rocking to compress the wax ring. Replace washers and nuts, tighten, and break off excess.

Position Water Tank to Align with Holes on the Base
Step 9

Position Water Tank to Align with Holes on the Base

Set water tank in place, aligning bolts to holes in the toilet base. Push bolts down inside tank and secure with washers and nuts below. Ensure tank is level by tightening left or right nut as necessary.

Fit Toilet Seat Hinges into Holes on Toilet Base
Step 10

Fit Toilet Seat Hinges into Holes on Toilet Base

Position toilet seat with hinges in the holes on the toilet base and secure w/nylon bolts. Tighten the nuts under the base with your fingers and then finish tightening with a screwdriver in the slot on top of the bolt.