How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One

I wanted to title this post “Mystery Poop”, but decided it may not attract too many viewers if I did. You see, I recently moved to a new house, and had an issue with a…well…a turd that kept reappearing in my toilet. The little “dancing turd” as my kids and I lovingly nicknamed it, didn’t belong to any of us (it came free with the house). After a few attempts, I managed to launch the little brown pest into Sewersville with my plunger. I thought my toilet issues were over until subsequent deposits made by family members, guests and myself also continued to reappear. I decided enough is enough and sprang for a new toilet.

I’d always heard that installing a new toilet isn’t all that difficult. And since I’d already paid my plumber enough money from other jobs in my new house to finance his son’s college education, I decided to tackle this project myself. Plus, I’d removed a handful of toilets in my lifetime, so I at least had experience at half of the job.

Step one. Every toilet has a shut off valve to stop the flow of water to the tank. I shut this off, and then flushed the toilet to empty the tank. If the toilet fills back up after you’ve shut the water off with the shut off valve, call your plumber. You’ve got issues. Here’s the shut off valve.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

There will still be about an inch or so of water in the tank after it flushes, but that’s normal.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I unscrewed the plastic nut that connects the hose to the tank. I had a container ready to catch water that I expected to run out, but much to my surprise, no water came out.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I removed the plastic nut in order to remove the float tower (my personal name for it) to allow the remaining water to drain out of the tank. A little water leaked out, but not too much.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After the nut was removed, I lifted out the float tower not realizing there was still quite a bit of water in the tank. My feet got wet on that one.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

As I was working, I noticed that the hose that I had disconnected had drops of water leaking out of it, which meant my shut off valve wasn’t working quite right, so I left my container under it to catch the drips. If everything is working properly, your shut off valve should stop all the water from coming out of your hose.

Next, I removed the tank from the stool so the toilet would be lighter and easier for me to lift off of the floor. In order to do that, I simply had to remove three nuts from under the tank (two of them are pictured here).

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Sounds simple, right? Two of nuts came off with little effort using a pair of pliers. The third nut however, had rusted. Removing the final bolt would have been much easier with two people, where one person could hold the nut with pliers on the underside of the toilet, and the second person could use a screwdriver to unscrew the bolt from the top.

After several minutes of dinking around with the screw from hell, I came to the painful conclusion that it wasn’t going to come off. Ever. In a moment of desperation, I made the conscious decision to just crack the toilet to get it off. So here’s a great shot of the cracked tank.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

For the record, I’ve heard a person can get cut pretty bad on cracked porcelain, so don’t try this at home. I would advise you to get a Dremel or a hack saw and cut the screw off if it won’t unscrew. ¬†Or get someone to help lift the toilet off in one piece so you don’t have to take it apart.

Here are the fruits of my labor. Beautiful (or not).

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I removed the caps off of the bolts that hold the toilet to the floor.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now it’s time to cut through the gross caulk so the toilet will come loose from the floor.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I lifted the stool and put it on a throw-away towel in the bathtub. I tipped the stool forward a couple of times to remove the remaining water. (No lurking turds.) Make no mistake–there will be water remaining in the stool part that you can’t see, so don’t go trying to carry it across your new white carpeting to the front door without a garbage bag wrapped around it.

It would have been a good idea to set an open garbage bag on top of the towel to set the toilet into in the first place. But since I didn’t do that, I had to lift up the toilet and slide a bag underneath it. Not really too much fun.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s what I’m left with.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

If you’ve been thinking this is a pretty disgusting process so far, it gets worse right about now. I put on some gloves to remove as much of the wax ring as possible. If you have a black plastic ring in the middle of the mess, that needs to come out too.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I removed the old bolts, and stuck a rag into the opening to keep sewer gas from coming up.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now comes the time-consuming part of removing all of the old caulk with a razor blade.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I found after trying both Goo-Gone and Dawn dish soap, that a very simple way to remove wax off of the linoleum was to use good, old-fashioned baking soda. I just sprinkled a generous amount on the floor, ran the plastic side of a sponge over it, and it came right off.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s my new toilet by Kohler. I chose a chair-height toilet which sits higher off the ground than a standard toilet. I also chose a round toilet instead of an elongated one since I have a small bathroom. It was about $170.00 at Lowe’s. I also saw it at Home Depot.

To figure out what size of toilet I needed, I measured the space from my toilet bolts on the floor, to the wall behind it for a 12″ measurement. This is the most common toilet size.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To install the new toilet, I basically re-did all of the things I un-did to get the old toilet out.

I put the new bolts right back in the flange where I took the old ones out.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To help with setting the new toilet over the bolts, I put blue tape on the floor next to the bolts and drew a line to where the bolts sit so I could see better where I need to go with the toilet.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next comes the wax ring. My plumber uses two wax rings, so that’s what I did too. Here’s the wax ring. One came with the toilet, and I purchased a second one separately.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I removed the plastic that the wax ring came in, and stuck the ring around the opening on the bottom of the toilet.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I placed the second ring on the flange on the floor after I removed the rag from the hole. It might cause you some grief if you don’t remember to remove your rag from the opening before you put the toilet on. Just a helpful tip from me to you.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I didn’t want to try to lift the toilet over the bolts by myself, so I called over my son, Ross, to help me. I’m not sure how a person could actually do this by himself, but I know people do it all the time. If you are going to try this by yourself, I would strongly recommend putting tape on the floor as I did, to help guide you because the toilet blocks the view of the bolts from above.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Seating a toilet is a one-shot deal, which is what has kept me from trying this in the past. If you mess up your toilet placement, you can’t lift up the toilet and try again because you’ll break the seal on the wax ring, causing the toilet to leak. You are also not supposed to slide the toilet around too much after you seat it for the same reason. I did have to move it just a bit because it was a little cati-wampus. I sat on the toilet facing the wall, which squished the wax rings together to form the seal.

After the toilet felt like it had sunk down onto the floor, I measured from the wall to each of the two holes on the stool to make sure the toilet was set evenly. I also used a level to make sure the toilet was even. No one’s gonna want to do their business with their cheeks out of whack, right?

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I put on the washers and nuts over the floor bolts as directed. I hand-tightened these just barely snug so as not to crack the porcelain.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I then followed the directions on how to attach the tank to the stool. These directions will vary from one toilet to another. First I put on the gasket. The gasket is a squishy, rubber doughnut-like circle with a flat side that keeps the water from leaking out of the tank. Every standard toilet will have a gasket, although I’ve never seen one quite this big. The flat side generally goes against the tank, and the round side towards the stool, but be sure to read the directions for your particular toilet. If the gasket is put on backwards, the tank will leak.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I put the tank onto the stool, and hand tightened the two screws that hold the tank to the toilet. The photo is a picture before the nuts were tightened. This part was a little tricky. I had to put the tank on and take it back off a couple of times before I got it right because it was too wobbly, yet the nuts felt tight enough. I just didn’t have it placed correctly at first.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The “guts” inside this particular toilet tank were already assembled inside of it, so I didn’t have to do anything there. Now for the grand finale! The toilet seat. Here are the bolts in the tabs made to hold the toilet seat on.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I attached these winged plastic nuts to the bolts that held the toilet seat in place. These nuts were easy to screw on because of the wing. Again, I was careful not to over-tighten them.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Lastly, I caulked the sides and front of the base of the toilet, leaving the back free of caulk. Why? Because that’s what my plumber told me to do. He explained that if there’s ever a leak in the wax ring, it may give the water a place to go other than into the sub floor. This way, you’ll know if you have a leak.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

That’s all there was to it. It wasn’t difficult, it was just time-consuming. Because of the age of my house, the toilets I had were not the low-water usage ones. If I decide to get a more efficient toilet in my other bathroom, I would install that one myself too (with the help of my son, Ross, of course). It wasn’t very fun, but it was worth the effort to save myself some money.

And here she is. Of course after the new toilet looked so nice and new, I had to paint the walls and vanity, get a new vanity top, faucet, light fixture, mirror, baseboard, wainscoting…..

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at http://www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

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