Project Guide

How to Install a Toilet

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Turn Off Water
Man shutting off water to toilet

The first step in removing an old toilet is to turn off the water at the shutoff valve located either on the wall or floor behind or beside the toilet. This valve controls the flow of water into the supply line and then into the toilet tank.

  • Flush the toilet to drain all the water from the tank and toilet bowl. Since you've turned the water off at the valve, the tank will not refill.
  • Use a plunger to force any remaining water down the drain line, then remove any remaining water from the tank with a sponge and a bucket. 

Tip: Keep bowl upright. Any small amount of water left in the bowl at this point won't spill out as long as the bowl is kept upright while being removed.

Disconnect the Water Supply Line
Someone disconnecting a toilet's supply line
  • Disconnect the supply line with an adjustable wrench. Keep the water pipe secure while trying to loosen the supply line at the valve. Don't loosen or damage the water pipe or its connection inside the wall or floor in the process of trying to loosen the supply line connection.
  • If the line has never been removed or has been connected for an extended period of time, it might be a little hard to loosen at one or both of the connection points. If that’s the case, use a heavy-duty lubricant to break down any corrosion. 

Tip: There will be a small amount of water left in the supply line when it's removed, so have a bucket and rag on hand to catch and wipe any water that spills out. 

Separate the Tank and Bowl
Someone lifting toilet tank

If you’re working alone, it may be easier to separate the tank from the bowl. Lifting both pieces together can be difficult for one person.

  • Disconnect and remove the tank from the bowl by removing the bolts from the bottom of the tank with an adjustable wrench. The tank bolts travel from inside the toilet tank to below the bowl. It may be necessary to hold the top of the bolt within the tank while removing the nut below the back of the bowl. 
  • Remove the tank by lifting it straight up. If you feel resistance, twist from side to side as you lift. This will work the flush valve gasket found between the tank and bowl free from the bowl.

Tip:  If you have a toilet with one-piece construction that cannot be separated, find a helper to assist you with this step. 

Unbolt Tank and Toilet Bowl
Someone unbolting the toilet bowl from floor
  • Pop the toilet bolt caps. Use a screwdriver if necessary.
  • Use a pair of pliers or an adjustable wrench to remove the nuts and washers on the bolts that secure the bowl to the floor.
  • If you find the nuts are rusted in place, you can use the heavy duty lubricant to loosen the nuts, turn the screws and create just enough space at the base of the bolts to allow you to use a hacksaw to cut the bolts off. 
Remove Old Caulk
Someone removing old chalk at bottom of toilet bowl
  • Check to see if your toilet bowl has been caulked around the base where it meets the floor. If it has, you'll need to use a utility knife to score through the caulk seam. 
  • Gently rock the toilet bowl back and forth until you work it free and can lift it. Move it to the side to expose the old wax ring

Tip: Avoid caulking a new toilet around the base. In the event of a leak, the caulk will trap the water under the toilet and cause serious damage to your floor.

Check Bowl Bolts
Someone checking the bolts after the toilet bowl is removed
  • Check the state of the old toilet bowl bolts in the flange located at the floor drain. 
  • If you cut rusted bolts off in the previous step, those bolts should be replaced at this point with the news bolts that came with your new toilet. If the bolts weren't rusted and are in good shape, you can leave them in place and reuse them or replace them if you wish.
  • Remove the old wax ring using a putty knife and wipe away any excess with a damp rag or sponge.

Tip: Stuff a rag into the open line in the floor to prevent sewer gases from venting into your home. Remove the rag before installing the new toilet.

Inspect the Flange
Someone inspecting the toilet's flange

The flange creates a connection between the floor and toilet and provides a connection point for the hardware found on the base of the toilet. If it is cracked or broken, you can use a flange repair ring to replace it.

Tip: If you're unsure of what type of replacement flange to buy, simply snap a photo of your old flange and show it to an associate at your nearest The Home Depot store. 

Install New Wax Ring
Someone installing a new wax ring for a toilet

You have two options for placing the new wax ring:

  • You can rest the new toilet bowl on its side on a padded surface to protect the floor and the toilet and attach the replacement wax ring to the bottom of the bowl. The benefit to this technique is that you can be sure that the ring is in the proper position when placing the toilet over the flange.
  • The more popular option is to place the wax ring in position on the flange prior to lowering the bowl into place. 

Tip: If thick tile has been added to your bathroom since the original toilet was installed, a thicker ring may be required.

Place Toilet on the Flange
Someone holding a toilet over a flange before placing it down

Place the toilet bowl onto the flange, aligning the bolt holes in the base of the bowl with the bolts in the flange. If it helps, you can hold the bowl by the inside rim instead of the outer edges to get a better grip and more control as you lower it. Press down to set the seal. 

Tip: Be very careful not to move or tilt the toilet after setting the wax seal on the flange as you could break the seal, which may result in future leaks. 

Bolt Toilet to Floor
Someone bolting toilet to floor
  • Place a washer and nut on each toilet bowl bolt and evenly tighten the nuts onto the bolts.
  • Alternate from one side of the toilet to the other as you tighten the nuts a little at a time. Be careful not to over-tighten the nuts and crack the porcelain bowl.
  • If the bolts extend too far over the top of the washers and nuts, cut off the excess with a hacksaw.
  • Place the tank onto the bowl, aligning the shank of the bolts with the holes in the bowl. If the bolts extend too far over the washers and nuts, cut off the excess with a hacksaw.
Attach the New Tank
Someone attaching the new tank to the new toilet bowl

If not already attached, install the “tank to bowl” gasket onto the base of the flush valve and insert the tank bolts and washers from inside the tank.

  • Place the tank onto the bowl, aligning the shank of the bolts with the holes in the bowl.
  • Secure the tank to the bowl by alternately tightening each tank bolt until the tank pulls down and comes in contact with bowl.
  • Reattach the supply line to the exposed portion of the fill valve sticking out of the bottom of the tank and to the supply valve coming out of the wall or floor. 

Tip: Test the toilet for leaks. Slowly turn on the water shutoff valve and allow the tank to fill. Flush the toilet and focus on the base of the toilet and the point at which the tank and bowl meet. Add leak-detecting dye to make seeing leaks easier.

When it comes to choosing your toilet seat as the final step, there are different types of seats and lids. Select a toilet seat that will fit the toilet model you have chosen and follow the manufacturer’s instructions accordingly. 

Take a look at our guide for installing a toilet seat to get ideas for the best toilet seat for your bathroom.  

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