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Replacing a toilet? Any gotchyas before I tear into this today?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by wahoowad, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    I'm under the impression replacing a toilet is a pretty simple affair. Yet I always worry when embarking on any plumbing project as (for me) they never go as planned!

    1. turn off water supply, empty water from old toilet, disconnect water, remove hold down nuts, remove entire toilet

    2. remove old wax ring, install new wax ring

    3. lower toilet down onto new wax ring, tighten down hold down nuts

    4. reconnect water supply hose, turn on water supply, monitor for leaks


    I am most worried about step 3, namely ensuring I am lowering toilet squarely down on the new wax ring as I'm not aware of anything that guides you to do this perfectly. Any advice or glaring omissions to ensure this goes smoothly?

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  2. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    If it were me I'd have a second wax ring on-hand in case you need a "redo". Last time I did one they were cheap insurance...
  3. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    good idea. i can always return it on my next trip to the hardware store.
  4. stejus

    stejus Minister of Fire

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    You got it covered... here are some other tips....

    Before you place the new ring in the hole, clean out the old wax deposits where the old ring sat and under the bowl where the ring was. Make sure it nice and clean so the new wax has a good clean surface to sit on. Placing the toilet onto the ring is not hard at all. Just get over the toilet and hold it level. Have a second person position the base over the ring. Lower the toilet slowly and put some downward pressure to seat it. When you tighten the bolts, do them equally so it goes down level.

    Obviously, test the toilet before allowing anyone to use it!

    Goodluck
  5. snowleopard

    snowleopard New Member

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    I did my first terlet last spring, and was pretty nervous, too. Here's some of what I learned along the way:

    1) Make sure the kid at the terlet store doesn't inadvertenty get you a wrong model toilet (let's just say, for theoretical example, an ADA-approved one--not saying this is what I have, mind you) because whatever toilet you have at home when you've pulled the old one will be the one you install--wrong color, size, model, you'll just decide to go for it.

    2) Make sure the model you pick is one you'll want to live with for awhile. A long while.

    3) Don't just plan on using the wax ring that comes with the toilet--spend a few bucks for the good one.

    4) Have a hair dryer on hand.

    5) When you have the old toilet out, do a careful inspection of the support structure around the toilet. If there have been hidden leaks, it can deteriorate the joists and cross-pieces put in there. Also make sure no leaks have gone under the flooring and deteriorated floor or subfloor.

    6) Use two wax rings. Put the sticky sides together.

    7) Warm everything--wax ring, base of toilet--up with the hair dryer until the rings start to get a little soft.

    8) Cannot advise you on placement, except to say that when you get to this point in the adventure, you will know the layout so well that you could do a ninja installation--or have some kind of supersense, like Daredevil, and you will not miss. Because any other option will be unthinkable.

    9) Remove toilet, remove rag stuffed in the pipe to keep the smell down, repeat steps 3-8.

    HTH. Thank you for reminding me why today is a GOOD day.
  6. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    If you can have a second person there when placing the new toilet on the new ring, that second
    pair of eyes is very helpful in making sure everything is lined up.
  7. boatboy63

    boatboy63 Member

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    Biggest piece of advice I can offer is be careful when picking up the old one. There will be water caught in the trap and as soon as you tilt it, it will be all over your feet, floor, etc. I have always heated the top of the wax ring and applied it to the bottom side of the new toilet. This way, it is in place and won't move. I suggest you have your new toilet unboxed, check for cracks, and allow it to warm to room temp for hours before putting it in place. Also, be sure to tighten bolts evenly and only snug. Retighten a little each day as it seats in better. If you tighten too much to one side or overtighten, the ceramic will crack.
  8. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    Sit on the toilet to squeeze down the wax ring and get the toilet base onto the floor.
    Try not to 'rock' it down.
    Borrow a heavy person if you have to. :)
    Much too easy to break the vitreous china using the flange nuts to pull it down.


    If you have a Toto toilet you might find a odd UniFit adapter.
  9. colebrookman

    colebrookman Minister of Fire

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    They have some upscale wax rings that have like a funnel that fits the hole better. Also before you start tightening sit squarely on the bowl facing the back to seat the ring better. New bolts help. No big deal. Be safe. Ed

    Edit, you beat me Bill!
  10. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    Use a paper cup to remove as much water from the bowl. Stuff some paper towels in the bottom to soak up what is left. Open a large trash bag to set the old toilet in to catch stray water when you remove it. A cheap plastic putty knife or paint mix stick is great and disposable for cleaning the old wax off the flange. You can cut a straw in half and put them sticking up on the toilet bolts to line up the new toilet if you need to. As long as the wax ring is not very cold, it will seal fine. Don't over think this. Toilet leak at the flange if the floor is not level and the toilet rocks on the floor. If it sets fine and is secure you will be fine.
  11. EJL923

    EJL923 Feeling the Heat

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    1. Have a rag on hand that you dont care about to stuff in the hole while you work to keep the smell out of your face. make sure its a tight fit so it doesnt roll down the hole of no return
    2. dry fit the toilet first so can can be ready for any rocking you may have to deal with
    3. as others have said, have an extra ring on hand
    4. get the ring with the rubber neck on it, added insurance against leaks
    5. may be a stupid thing to say, but dont assemble the tank onto the toilet until after it is placed on the ring
  12. boatboy63

    boatboy63 Member

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    Love this idea. I do store maintenance for a major retailer and get my share of toilet replacements. Always thought there had to be an easier way of lining up the bolts. Now I have it. Thanks.
  13. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    I lost track of how many toilets I remove and install in my job. Probably hundreds over the years. I never use the straws, but it can help. Drain cleaning guys re-form the wax ring and have no leak issues. They probably pull a few toilets a day.
  14. Cazimere

    Cazimere Member

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    Use old toilet before starting.
  15. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Yea and sometime you may need a double thick one. Stacking two of them not good.
  16. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    If an older home, potential rotted floor from leaks or condensation.
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Make sure the offset from the back wall of the toilet tank to the centerline of the drain is roughly the same. Some units have quite a different offset if they have a different tank arrangement or elongated bowl. FWIW, I like to install a toilet so that there is at least 1" air space behind the tank. This helps prevent mold build up from the sweating tank in the summer.
  18. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Make sure the toilet you pick out has the same rough-in dimensions as the one you're removing. A friend of mine ordered a $1500 custom color (don't ask) job and then had to pay the plumber/drywaller/tile man to re-rough the hole. In my last house I replaced a toilet when we were redoing the floor. The rough-in hole was 7.5" from the wall so 1/2 the wax ring was clogging the hole. I had wasted a ton of time thinking the poor flush was a venting issue.

    I always get the good ring with the rubber insert, but I put the ring on the toilet, put the bolts on the flange and then lowered it down. I get a good feel for alignment because the rubber seal guides me into the toilet flange. I would definately get two wax rings.
  19. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    OK, running into my first problem.

    It turns out my flange sticks up about an inch (concrete slab floor), but the toilet was flush and level when I initially set it down to see how it all fit up. So I then put on my wax seal and set the toilet in place. The wax seal really lifts the rear of the tank and I am not sure if I should fully squash down that seal or if it is still going to lift the toilet up some? It has lifted it up and there is a big gap under the toilet.

    I put my body weight on it a bit, gave it some slight rocks back and forth. Right now I am slowly tightening down each bolt, going back and forth every couple of turns to do it evenly. I'm concerned if I should shim the front before I tighten it down too much? I'm not sure though as it is unclear how much of a shim I will need as that seal is going to flatten quite a bit.
  20. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    Well, nothing like spending a gorgeous fall day inside fighting a 'simple' plumbing job :(

    I think my PVC flange is mounted too high for the toilet to bolt down without wobbling. The original toilet wobbled too although fortunately did not leak. I'm not going to reinstall a new toilet on top of that flange.

    I have a concrete floor with a 3" waste pipe. My PVC flange fits around the outside of it and appears to be glued on, so isn't going to come off easy. What I do not know is why it is so high - maybe a replacement will also sit high? I've been watching tons of youtube videos about how to fix flanges but none seem to address this particular issue. Goddamn I hate fooling with plumbing stuff.
  21. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    I had the same situation at work, hairline crack down the pvc a few inches. Our plumbing contractor came out and used an internal pvc pipe cutter and installed a new flange that fit to the inside of the pipe. I wonder if your slab settled over time? There are several types out there, some cheap, others not. PVC is soft enought to be cut with a serrated cutter, just be sure the new flange will fit inside the 3" pipe. The flange should also be set into the concrete with a hammer drill and tapcon screws, as the pvc flanges don't have much meat where the bolts secure in the flange.
  22. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    I've installed the "waxless" gaskets on two toilets now with great results.

    They are reusable.
  23. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    This is timely. I will be replacing two toilets at my place in the next few weeks. Thanks.
  24. Hass

    Hass Minister of Fire

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    Shim the terlet?

    Also, I hope you bought a good one.
    I bought a uhm.. I don't remember the name of it... It was 99 from Home Depot, had a 10 on it's scale of flushing power so I figured it was as good as the $300 Kohler that had a 10 flushing power... Boy was I wrong. I plug it up about 2-3 times a week. About 3 weeks after I installed it, I had it plugged up so good that I couldn't plunge it, snake it, or any homeade remedy (letting dish soap soak in it, etc...). So I had to undo the toilet, and pick my poop out of it while it's 10 degrees outside. I guess the cold made it smell less... But holy smokes, it smelled horrid. So I still plug it up every now and then, not as bad as that day... usually I just poop at work until I get the spare time to replace the toilet with a much better model.
  25. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I'm with you Wahoowad, I hate this crap.

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