Installing A Toilet

By Pat Logan

December 31, 2009 4 min read

Is the love for your toilet going down the drain? Then it is time to spruce up your bathroom with a stylish and modern new one. And you don't have to flush your money down the toilet by hiring a plumber. If you own a set of wrenches, you can install it yourself.

Here is everything you need to know to get started.

First, pick your new toilet. They all have a common base and bolt pattern, so any toilet will fit over the existing drain. If you are a sound sleeper and noise does not bother you, consider getting a pressure-assisted toilet. These are designed to use the water pressure to provide more powerful and faster flushes. Their flushing sound is somewhat louder than that of standard gravity-flow toilets, and they are slightly more expensive than standard toilets.

The primary selection decision will be between a one-piece (tank and bowl together) and a two-piece toilet. One-piece toilets are usually more stylish and more expensive, and you may have a problem handling the weight of a one-piece toilet. With a two-piece toilet, the weights of the separate bowl and tank sections are manageable.

Once you get home with your new toilet, the next step is to shut off the water supply line. There is a valve on the wall underneath the old toilet tank. If you never have turned it off before, it may be stuck. The knob is not very strong, so be gentle as you work with it to get it to shut off. It may drip a bit as you turn it. This is normal and does not mean it is leaky.

With the water turned off, remove the top of the toilet tank. Pull up and hold the chain to the flush valve until as much water as possible has run out. There is a raised ridge around the base of the valve seat, so use a sponge to remove the residual water at the bottom of the tank.

There are two bolts through the bottom of the tank, which attach it to the bowl section. The nuts for these bolts can be accessed from beneath the flange on the bowl section. Remove the nuts, and lift the tank off the bowl. Lay some rags on the floor because some water will drip out of the tank, no matter how dry it looks.

There are two studs sticking up from the floor, to which the bowl section is bolted. Remove the two nuts and washers, and lift the toilet bowl from the floor. Pull the old wax ring seal off the top of the drain. Place some newspaper over or stuff a rag into the drain hole so nothing falls into it.

Put a bead of bowl-setting compound around the base of the new toilet bowl section, where it will rest on the floor. Uncover the drain, and place a new wax ring over it. Place the toilet bowl over the drain, being careful not to deform the soft wax ring. Tightening the bowl to the floor deforms the wax ring so it seals between the bowl and the drain. Bolt the tank to the bowl, and reattach the water line.

Last step: Stand back and admire your new throne.

Columnist Pat Logan answers readers' questions about building, remodeling and home-maintenance problems. Read his column at

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