Toilets last a long time, but sooner or later your bathroom throne will lose its regal luster and need to be replaced. While you can repair a toilet, replacing an old water guzzler with a new water-saving toilet will save thousands of gallons a year and can pay for itself over time.
Read on to find out how to remove an aging toilet and install a new one that’s fit for the king or queen of your home. On the last page of the article is a button that links to a printable toilet replacement checklist.
Step #1: Gather Tools and Materials
The first step in removing and replacing a toilet is to make sure you have everything you need to get the job done right!
Before buying a new toilet, measure the distance from the center of the toilet flange bolts to the wall on your existing toilet and make sure the new one will fit without a large gap, or even worse not enough room to spare. The standard distance is 12” from the bolts to the wall, but it can vary depending on the model.
Toilet replacement tools needed:
- Rubber gloves
- Tape measure
- Socket set
- Wrenches or adjustable wrench
- Putty knife
- Caulking gun
- Old towels or paper towels
- Bucket and sponge
- Spray can of penetrating oil
Toilet replacement materials needed:
- Toilet seat
- Closet bolts and nuts (2)
- Wax ring
- Supply line (optional)
- Silicone caulking (optional)
Step #2: Drain Toilet Tank and Bowl
Start by draining as much water as possible out of the toilet tank and bowl, then sponge out the rest.
How to drain a toilet:
Turn off Water: Find the water line shutoff valve located below the toilet and turn it to the right (clockwise) as far as it will go. If your toilet doesn’t have a shutoff valve, you will need to turn off all the water to the house where the water line enters the house or at the water meter.
Flush Toilet: After turning off the water, flush the toilet and hold the handle down to remove as much of the water in the tank as possible.
Drain Bowl: Fill a bucket up with water, and pour it rapidly into the bowl. The fast movement of the water down the drain creates a partial vacuum that sucks most of the water in the bowl down with it. Watch our video on How to Drain a Toilet to see how it’s done.
Remove Remaining Water: Wear rubber gloves and use a sponge and bucket to remove any remaining water in the bowl and tank. If your idea of a good time isn’t sponging water out of a toilet bowl, you can drop a packet of LiquiLock (available at home centers) in the bowl to turn the remaining water into a gel.
Step #3: Disconnect Toilet
The next step is to disconnect the water supply line and remove the bolts holding the toilet to the floor.
How to disconnect a toilet:
- Lubricate Toilet Flange Bolts: The toilet flange bolts, which hold the toilet to the floor, often become corroded and frozen over time. Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the caps on the toilet flange bolts. Spray the flange nuts and bolts with penetrating oil and allow the oil to soak in.
- Disconnect Water Supply Line: Use an open end or adjustable wrench to unscrew the supply line fitting from the tank by turning the supply line coupling nut counterclockwise. Have a pan or small bucket handy to catch any water in the supply line. If you plan to replace the supply line, use a wrench to disconnect the supply line from the shutoff valve as well.
- Remove Toilet Flange Bolts: After the penetrating oil has been given time to work, remove the toilet flange nuts by turning them counterclockwise with a ratcheting socket or closed end wrench.
Step #4: Remove Toilet
While toilets can be removed in one piece, they can be heavy and awkward to handle. So unless you have someone else to help, it’s easier to disconnect the tank from the bowl and remove each piece separately.
How to remove a toilet:
- Lubricate Toilet Tank Bolts: Spray the nuts and bolts under the bowl that hold the tank to the bowl with penetrating oil and allow it to soak in.
- Remove Toilet Tank Bolts: Remove the lid on the tank and loosen the toilet tank bolts with a ratcheting socket or closed end wrench on the toilet tank nut under the bowl, and a screwdriver on the head of the bolt inside the toilet tank.
- Remove Toilet Tank: Lift the toilet tank off the bowl, and carry it outside.
- Remove Toilet Bowl: Work the toilet bowl back and fourth to loosen it from the wax seal holding it to the floor. Once the bowl is loose, pick it up and carry it outside, being careful not to drip water on the floor.
- Seal Toilet Drain Pipe: Cover the drain opening to keep sewer gases from coming up through the drain while you’re working on it. Don’t forget to remove the cover from the drain pipe before installing the toilet!
Step #5: Clean Toilet Flange and Floor
Put on rubber gloves and remove any gunk left behind from the old toilet flange so the new toilet will seat properly. Cleaning the floor under the toilet is a good idea, too.
How to clean toilet flange and floor:
- Clean Toilet Flange: Wear rubber gloves and use a putty knife to remove what’s left of the old wax ring and any other accumulated mess.
- Clean Floor: Use bathroom cleaner and a scrub brush to clean the floor under the toilet.