How to Install a New Toilet or Replace the Wax Ring

Whether your old toilet has seen better days or you’re just ready to update your bathroom, you can save lot’s of money by doing it yourself! With just a few basic tools, you can become a home plumber!

This will guide you through the steps you’ll need to take to install a new toilet or replace a wax ring. It’s really not as complicated as you might think!

Turn the water off at the back of the toilet. Once the water has been turned off you will need to flush the toilet several times to make sure there’s no water left in the tank.

If you don’t want to get water everywhere, you can use an old rag to soak up what’s left in the bottom of the tank and bowl. You can use a plunger in the bowl to force most of the water down into the drain pipe!

You can remove the whole toilet at once, but it may be easier to remove it in two separate parts. Especially for those ladies that don’t want to be lifting on the whole toilet!

After you’ve gotten the water turned off, you’ll need to disconnect the pipe running to the bottom of the bowl. Unless you’re going to be replacing the pipe, be careful to not strip the threads.

Now, that you’ve got the pipes disconnected, you’re ready to remove the tank. There are wing nuts located on each side of the bottom of the tank, remove these to lift it off of the bowl.

There are normally plastic caps covering the bolts that hold the bowl to the floor. These caps should be easily removed, but if they’ve became stuck, just use a flat screwdriver or any flat tool to pry them off.

If the bolts that secure the toilet to the floor are rusted you may have to use a lubricant to loosen them. Spray them with a good coating of the lubricant and give it a little time to work. If it seems like no amount of lubricant is going to loosen the nuts, you may have to saw them off.

Now, you’re ready to remove the toilet bowl. You’ll now see the wax seal, never replace a toilet without replacing the wax seal. They’re fairly cheap and can prevent you from having to turn around and remove the toilet because it’s leaking!

You should remove all of the old wax from the flange, the flange is the plastic insert that goes into the drain hole. You can use any kind of wide flat object to scrape the old wax up.

There are several types of wax rings available, some with extensions for higher floors, some that can be stacked. If you’re not sure which one you need, take the old one with you to compare when buying a new one.

Make sure the wax ring is plyable before using it. You can just let it set at room temperature, until it becomes soft enough to make a good seal. If it’s to firm it won’t create a good water tight seal.

You’ll probably want to replace the old bolts that secure the bowl to the floor while you’re at it. Especially if the old ones were real rusty. These should be replace before you apply the wax ring.

You will notice two flat sides and two rounded sides on the heads of the bolts. These different sides will help hold the bolt tightly in place so it won’t turn as you tighten up the nuts.

Turn the bolts sideways until you can get them to line up inside the flange. Often, there is also a plastic piece that will slide around the bolt to secure it even more.

Now, you’re ready to install the wax ring. Position it on top of the flange and get it as even as you can. You don’t need to press it into place, the weight of the toilet bowl will press the wax down to make it seal.

It will save you a lot of time if you use something to mark the position of the bolts. When you place the new toilet bowl in position, you will have to be very careful to avoid any damage to the wax ring.

Once you’ve gotten it in place, tilt the bowl back and forth slightly to make a real good seal. Next, put the nuts back on the bolts and hand tighten them as much as possible.

You want to carefully tighten the nuts with a wrench. You want them tight, but if you tighten them too much it will crack the ceramic toilet. And, not only will you have to start all over, you’ll have to buy another toilet!

Now replace the plastic caps that cover the nuts. These will give your toilet a more finished look, but they can also prevent injuries from the sharp bolts.

Ok, on to the toilet tank!  There’s usually a rubber gasket already attached to the tank. Set it in place and insert the bolts from the inside of the tank. Put the wing nuts back on and tighten them by hand.

You’ll need to use a flat head screwdriver to hold the bolt on the inside of the tank while you tighten the nuts. Again, be very careful not to tighten them too much and crack the ceramic.

With both the toilet bowl bolts and the tank bolts it’s a very good idea to tighten each side a little at a time. This will help prevent the ceramic from getting cracked and also help prevent gaps.

Next reattach the water line! If you’ve bought a new one everything will be included in the package. But, if you’re using the existing one make sure that you use new rubber gaskets.

Now you’re ready to turn the water back on! If you just installed a new toilet, you’ll need to put all the parts inside the tank. But, if you just needed to replace the wax ring because of leaks, you can flush your toilet now!

Use some old rags or a mop and make sure that the floor around the toilet is completely dry. Flush the toilet several times and check the floor for leaks or any dampness. But, if you’ve followed these steps carefylly, you should have years of “dry” usage!