Removing and Replacing Your Old Toilet Part 1 of 3: Toilet Removal

Jim Mallery

Editor's Note: This is article 1 of a how-to guide on replacing a toilet

Are you ready to take the plunge and replace your old, water-guzzling toilet with a modern, low-flow, eco-friendly one?

Basically, you have two choices: you can call a plumber at the hourly rate of what dinner-for-two at a fancy restaurant costs, or you can remove the old toilet yourself and install a new one pretty easily.

Toilet Removal Need Not Bowl You Over

Here are seven steps to remove the old flusher:

  1. Turn off the water supply. That's the little spigot coming out of the wall behind the toilet.
  2. Drain the toilet. Take the top off the tank, flush it and hold the handle down till as much water as possible has drained from the tank (If water is running into the tank, you have somehow failed to turn off the supply valve). With a sponge and bucket, sop up the water remaining in the bottom of the tank.
  3. Disconnect the water-supply hose from the wall. (You should install a new hose along with the new toilet.)
  4. Separate the tank from the bowl for ease of handling. Usually, the tank is attached with two bolts in the bottom. You may need a large flat-head or Phillips screwdriver for inside the tank and the appropriate-sized wrench for the nuts on the outside of the tank. If you're built like an NFL linebacker or have a strong helper, you may be able to skip this step and carry the whole thing intact to the garbage.
  5. Remove the toilet bowl from the floor. It's held by two or four bolts covered with plastic caps, located on either side of the bowl. Pop the caps off with a small screwdriver and unscrew the nut. If the bolt is corroded, you may have to cut it with a hacksaw or grinder.
  6. Lift the bowl off the floor and dispose of it. If necessary, cut the caulking around the base with a utility knife and gently pry to pop it off the floor. There will be water still in the trap, which will be quite happy to spill as you carry the bowl if you don't keep it level.
  7. Slide the bolts from the flange and take note for future reference how they slip neatly into a no-turn position. Plug the drain temporarily with an old rag in the drain to block the escape of noxious fumes. Scrape off the wax ring sitting atop the drainpipe if it didn't come off with the bowl.

Voila! You're done! Removing an old toilet is not difficult. Corroded threads can be annoying, but not insurmountable. And a muscularly-gifted assistant can come in handy. Next, you need to install the new fixture.


About the Author

Jim Mallery, a semi-retired journalist and onetime registered contractor, has extensive experience remodeling, repairing, and rebuilding homes.

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