How to Install a New Toilet
If your toilet is worn or damaged -- or you'd just like to replace it -- master plumber Ed Del Grande shows how you can do the job yourself.
Installing a toilet is a fairly strenuous project, but one most do-it-yourselfers can tackle. Have an assistant handy to help you move and position the new toilet. Always consult the manufacturer's instructions. Some toilets come readily assembled; others require some assembly prior to installation.
The water supply for the toilet comes through the wall or floor under the lower left side of the bowl typically through a small pipe. Make sure the water supply to the toilet is turned off at the main shut off. Remove any residue from the old wax ring or caulk.
In our project, the plumber doing the rough-in left excess pipe on the water supply line. Cut the proper length of the supply line using a jigsaw or a tubing cutter.
Attach the water supply flange over the pipe to attach the valve. Slide the large nut and compression washer on the pipe. After wrapping the threads with plumber's tape (Teflon tape), use a wrench to tighten the nut.
As necessary, clean out the drain plug to remove any debris or obstruction before installing the toilet (Image 1).
In our project, the drain was stuffed with paper before a wall tear-out began to prevent debris from falling in and the original toilet floor flange unit is in reasonably good shape.
Slide the retaining bolts (closet bolts) into place on the flange that will be used for the new toilet. The bolts should stick up from the floor, positioned for line up with the bolt holes in the toilet base.
The wax seal (Image 2) fits around the horn on the bottom of the toilet bowl and makes a very tight seal over the drain pipe.
Run a bead of clear silicon caulk around the toilet base as an added seal (Image 3).
If the flange is in bad shape, have a plumber replace it, especially if the flange is cracked or broken inside the inner circle where the wax ring forms a seal.
Caulk only the front of the bowl and leave the back uncaulked as an early warning sign for leaks.
It's important at this stage to check if the toilet closet bolts are properly installed. Make sure thin plastic or nylon holders are attached to the bolts. The plastic retainers are supposed to be pushed down to the flange to keep the bolts from flopping over. In our project, this was not done properly but with some adjustment, the bowl was positioned properly on the seal.
Secure the toilet over the drain and carefully set it in place with the closet bolts coming up through the bolt holes in the base. Insert a nylon washer over each bolt, followed by a metal washer a nut.
Once the bowl is seated properly, hand tighten the retaining nuts to hold the bowl in place. Then, have a helper push down on the bowl while you apply a wrench to turn the bolts just once or twice to secure the bowl to the floor.
Note: Overtightening the bolts can cause the toilet bowl to crack.
Before attaching the tank on the bowl, attach the flexible supply line from the tank to the water supply line.
To attach the tank to the bowl, fit holes in the bottom of the tank to the holes at the top of the bowl, usually two or three. Once the tank is property positioned, insert a washer on each of the tank bolts and set the bolts through the aligned holes with the bolts heads inside the tank. Attach the washers and nuts to the bolts underneath the bowl. Tighten carefully with a wrench to avoid overtightening.
Attach the seat to the toilet. Set the seat bolts onto the toilet mounting holes. Screw the mounting bolts into the seat bolts and tighten by hand.
Fill the decorative caps with plumber's putty and place them over the bolt ends at the base of the toilet.
Once the installation is complete, turn on the water supply at the shut-off, allow the toilet tank to fill and check for leaks.