As much as possible, you want to save on costs. Even if this means re-installing the toilet yourself, you’re willing to do it. The good thing about this is that it’s not that hard and yes, it is pretty doable by yourself.
Toilets, just like any other thing at home, is bound to deteriorate over time. Yes, they were built to be long lasting but there are instances when they need to be replaced before they are truly due. Be it during a remodel or some component broke requiring the entire thing to be replaced, knowing how to re-install a toilet can help you, but it also helps if you can do it without running into any issues. This is what this post is for: to guide you through re-installing a toilet with ease and with fewer problems.
Make Sure To Get The Exact Measurements Before Purchasing
If you’re going to buy a new toilet, make sure you have the right measurements. The last thing you want is to spend money but it will be all for nothing as the toilet doesn’t fit the dimensions you have. To avoid that problem, here’s what you should do:
Know the “rough-in” measurement of the old toilet.
Most toilets have the waste pipe is centered 12 inches from the wall. However, there are models that measure 10 or 14 inches from the wall. To check the rough-in, measure from the wall to the hold-down bolts of the toilet. If the measurement you come up with isn’t around 12 inches, it would be difficult to find a toilet replacement – it’s not impossible though. Most of the time, home carriers carry 10-inch models and not enough 14-inch models. You will also spend more if you have a special-order toilet.
Use Brass Bolts
The reason that brass bolts make the best for installing toilets is that they can resist corrosion. Given that water will be around and in the toilet, it helps to have components that can resist the the harshness that sometimes comes when water interacts with certain elements.
That said, make sure that the bolts you get are truly brass as there are components that may look like brass – they have this yellowish zinc tint to them – but aren’t really. The best thing you can do is check the label to make sure the bolts and nuts you’re getting is made of solid brass.
Another good thing about brass is that it doesn’t rust away, plus they are easier to cut off. Also, getting stainless steel screws is better when you have to re-anchor the toilet flange. Unlike steel, this material doesn’t corrode and unlike brass, it won’t break off when you’re driving them.
Cut Bolts That Have “Frozen”
Old nuts tend to hold in place – and won’t even budge – when you try to remove them. This is caused by years of corrosion that has made them “frozen,” so to speak. Trying to remove a corroded bolt is a frustrating experience which is why the best thing you can do is use a hacksaw blade. But in case you can’t get your hands on one of those, you can purchase a “close quarters” blade holder (which is sold at home centers or hardware stores). If you still can’t get that, just wrap a bare blade with a rag or duct tape. A lot of toilet bolts are made of brass so they are easier to cut. In case a bolt spins, try grabbing it with locking pliers as you make the cut.
Lock The Bolts Down
One of the most frustrating experiences in installing a toilet is setting it onto the new bolts. The bolts tend to slip and tip when you align them with the holes, all the while straining yourself. The worst part is that each time you miss aligning it, the risk of crushing or shifting the wax ring also increases. What helps this process along is the plastic slip-on washers, but only just as the bolts do still move even with their aid.
What you can do to set the bolts right is to buy a second set of nuts and washers. This way, you can lock the bolts in place before you set the toilet. But you also need to make sure that they are in the correct position. To do that, set the toilet then check it’s height and position. After that, lift it off then add the wax ring. You can also use masking tape to mark the locations of the bolts so they are easier to find.
Install a Toilet Flange Right
The key to a leak-free toilet is getting the right toilet flange. This is the component that anchors the toilet to the floor. So if it’s loose or damaged, the toilet will surely rock. Since a rocking toilet damages the wax ring, this will lead to leaks. So to make sure you have a rock-solid flange, scrape the old wax ring off then inspect the flange. In case the flange is broken, corroded or loose, here’s what you should do:
Use rot-proof shims to eliminate rocking.
A rocking toilet placed on an uneven floor will break, not now but surely later. This is why it’s important to check for wobbles once you’ve set the toilet in place and loosely tightened the nuts. You can even use slip coins or stainless steel washers if the wobbles aren’t that extreme; however, you risk rusting and staining the floor if you use regular steel washers. If the gap is rather large, it’s best to use plastic shims made for toilets. Once the wobble issue has been addressed, you can tighten the nits, cut the shims off then caulk the toilet base.
Squish the wax ring by sitting on the toilet.
The wax ring needs to be squished until such a time the toilet settles on the floor. Since you might crack the porcelain base if you tighten the nuts, the best thing you can do is sit on the toilet backward and try to wiggle around until the toilet touches the floor.
Make Sure To Not Tighten The Water Connections Too Much
Buy a flexible water line because they are easier to install compared to stiff metal or plastic tubing. Also, try to get one that is covered with stainless steel mesh. To make sure you get a good seal, hold the hose making sure it aims straight into the shutoff or fill valve while you screw the connectors. A connection that is too tight can cause leaks.
Cut The Bolts
It’s best to use new toilet bolts that are really long as this makes positioning a lot easier. Longer bolts means having to cut off protruding ends with a hacksaw. But before you do this, try testing your toilet by connecting the water line then flushing the toilet a couple of times, plus check for leaks. Leaving the bolts as is while doing this makes it easier to remove them and rest the toilet in case problems arise.