Toilet Installation Tips

Whether you’re building, remodeling or simply need a replacement, toilet installation is a fairly straight forward process and we’ve got some tips to help you determine what your needs are for the process.toilet-installation

Caveat, if your toilet is clogged or causing some trouble you should definitely call your local plumbing experts to determine the problem before moving forward.

Here are some tips to consider when looking to install a new toilet:

Preparation for Replacing a Toilet
BEFORE replacing an existing toilet, you’ll want to make sure to do the following…
 – Prep the space with rags
– Drain the water from the toilet
– Disconnect the toilet
– Loosen the seal between the bowl and the floor – then rock the toilet side-to-side to loosen and have those rags handy for the removal

Measure Your Space Before Buying
Before buying a new toilet you’ll need to know the “rough-in” measurement of the old one, or the appropriate measurements if remodeling/building. To find out what the the rough-in measurement is, simply measure from the wall to the where the toilets hold-down bolts are or will be. The measurement should be approximately 12 inches – baseboard included. If it’s not, toilet shopping may be a bit more challenging as most home improvement stores only carry 10 inch models. Larger models may need to be special ordered.

If the toilet is close to the door, make sure to measure how far the bowl protrudes from the wall to make sure you choose a model that will allow the door to close without obstruction.

Avoid Rusting & Corrosion, Go Brass and Stainless Steel
Simply put, brass and stainless steel bolts won’t rust or corrode. Use stainless steel bolts to anchor the flange as they’re a studier metal. Use long brass bolts to thread up through the flange, threaded-end up, into the flange collar’s slots. Brass bolts are softer and easier to cut.

Corroded, Frozen Bolts – How to Fix if You Encounter
Sometimes the old nuts have been in place for years, allowing them to corrode and weld to the bolts they’re attached to – making them very difficult to remove. You can use a hacksaw blade with a “close quarters” blade holder (available at home centers and hardware stores), or use a bare blade wrapped up with a rag or duct tape to protect your hands while sawing. Most toilet bolts and nuts are brass, so they’re pretty easy to cut. Secure spinning bolts with a pair of pliers as you’re cutting.

Lock Down the Bolts
One of the trickiest parts of toilet replacement actually setting the toilet onto the new bolts as they can slip and tip while you’re attempting to align them with the holes in the toilet. This also puts the wax ring at risk for breakage or potentially being crushed. The plastic washers that are often included in your kit can help, but they still allow the bolts to move around. To avoid this issue, buy another set of nuts and washers so you can anchor the bolts in place before setting the toilet. Make sure they’re in the correct position by setting the toilet and checking to make sure the height and position is correct. Then lift the toilet off and add the wax ring. To ensure the bolts are easy to find, mark their location with masking tape.

Flange Fixes
Wood rot is typically the cause of loose flanges. The wood becomes soft and the screws can’t hold.
If the wood rot extends beyond the flange, then your best solution is to replace a section of the sub floor. However, if the rot is only under the flange, you can use an ear-type ring – the ears allow you to anchor the screws into the hard part of the wood floor further away from the flange. Prior to installing an ear-type ring, hold it up to the drain horn on the underside of the toilet as you may have to cut off a few of the ears to make it work with the toilet.

Prevent Toilet Rocking
When you’ve set the toilet in place, lightly tighten the bolts, then check to see if it wobbles. If the wobbling is minor you can slip stainless steel washers (only to prevent rusting) or coins into the gaps underneath to see if that takes care of the problem. If the wobbling is pretty substantial, you can purchase some plastic shims – some are made specifically for toilets but the standard variety used for general construction will work just as well. When you’d fixed the wobbling you can then tighten nuts and cut the shims (if using) and seal the base of the toilet to the floor with caulk.

NOTE: DO NOT force the toilet down by tightening the nuts and bolts as this could crack the porcelain base.

Sit on It
Once you’ve got the toilet in place you’ll want to squish that wax ring so the toilet can settle to the floor. Remember not to force those nuts and bolts down too tight. Sit backwards on the toilet with your weight centered over the wax ring and shimmy around a bit until you feel the toilet settle to the floor. Don’t dance around too much though as you’ll want to drive the toilet straight down without too much shifting around. When you’ve felt the toilet settle to the floor you can then tighten the nuts and bolts for a good snug fit.

Water Connections…Tight, but Not Too Tight!
If your connection is too tight it can actually cause leaks or spin the fill valve inside the tank. For this part of the process purchase a stainless steel flexible water supply line to make your life easier – they’re simply easier to install that rigid metal or plastic varieties. When you’re ready to seal it, make sure to hold the hose straight into the fill or shut off valve while screwing in the connectors. Tighten them with your hands first, then give them about a quarter turn with your pliers. Check for leaks and tighten a little more if necessary.



North County Plumbing
 has been in the service business since 1970 providing quality plumbing services including leak detection and drain service in northern San Diego County. Our qualified technicians are available 24 hours a day to help with emergency plumbing repair services… with no overtime charges!

If you found this blog helpful, you may want to check out our post “Water Conservation: Plumbing Fixtures to Save Water, Energy and Money

Contact: 1330 N. Melrose Drive, Suite C, Vista, CA 92083 | (760) 735-4900 | (858) 484-4600

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