Replacing a Toilet 1

Chances are if you are a DIYer you would rather replace the bathroom toilet yourself than pay someone to do it. However, if you decide to move the location of the toilet, hire a professional plumber. Rerouteing pipes is best left to professionals.Toilet parts - Toilet found in Guelph


  • Rags
  • Newspapers and/or old towels
  • A container to scoop out water or shop vac
  • Screwdriver
  • Utility (exacto) knife
  • Putty knife (or similar tool)
  • New wax gasket
  • Possibly a new flange and bolts
  • Bathroom Caulk
  • Plastic toilet shims (if needed)
  • Plumber’s putty (if needed)
  • Wrench
  • Gloves (optional)
  • mini hack-saw (if needed)



Removing the Old Toilet

Step 1: Lay out newspapers/old towels

This is where you will be placing the old toilet after removal. If you will be setting it down on a tile floor, set it down gently. The tile can be cracked by a toilet being set down too harshly.

Step 2: Turn off and drain the water

To do this, locate the shut-off valve. Follow the supply line (at back of toilet) to where it leads into the floor. Along this line there will be a knob (commonly oval in shape). Turn until tight. Then flush the toilet several times or until the tank and bowl are nearly empty. Use a container or shop vac to remove any remaining water from the toilet.

*Try plunging while flushing. More water will drain this way.

**Still can’t get it all out and are worried about drips? Throw a rag in the bowl before you move it.

Step 3: Disconnect the Toilet 

Unscrew the nuts on the water supply line to disconnect it from the tank. Then remove the caps that cover the floor bolts located at the base of the toilet.  Pry off with your flat-head screwdriver if needed. Use your wrench and unscrew the nuts. The bolts will remain upright and attached to the floor.

Step 4: Removing the Toilet

Use your utility knife to score the caulking around the toilet base. Now rock the toilet back and forth to break the wax seal (Located under the toilet). This will be easiest if you straddle the toilet bowl. Once the toilet is rocking freely, lift it straight up off the bolts. Remember to lift with your knees, not your back. Ask for assistance with this should you need it.

Step 5: Preparing for new toilet

Scrape off the old wax seal and wipe the floor down. Inspect the floor for any cracks or bends. Stuff some rags in the exposed hole to prevent anything from going down if you aren’t installing the new toilet immediately.




Placing Your new Toilet
replace toilet

Step 6: The flange

The flange is the plastic ring that circles the hole in the floor. You can re-use the old one or replace it. If your toilet was wobbly then the flange might be your issue. Check out this article to determine whether or not you need to replace the flange or if it might just need a readjustment.

Step 7: The Seal

You need to seal the connection between the toilet and the pipe. To do this you can use either a wax ring or a rubber seal. I would suggest a rubber seal. It is more forgiving with a bit of toilet movement and less likely to leak. Place your seal on the base of the toilet. To determine the correct size needed, measure the elbow neck which is located on the bottom of your toilet. A 3″ neck will need a 3″ seal, and a 4″ will need a 4″ seal.  To determine the thickness, look at the installed toilet flange. If it is located below the floor level then you will need a thick seal otherwise a standard one will work.

Step 8: Place your new toilet

Lift the toilet by straddling it. Remember to use your legs, not your back. Line up the toilet with the anchor bolts in the floor and lower it down. Sit on the toilet and rock it back and forth to set the wax ring. Then proceed to place and tighten the nuts onto the anchor bolts. Use toilet shims if necessary to keep the toilet level and to stop and rocking. When tightening be careful of over-tightening. If you replaced the flange and bolts, cut the flange bolts down to size with a mini hack-saw so the cap can be placed. Your bolt cap may snap into place or you can use plumber’s putty to fill the cap, keeping it in place.

Step 9: Finishing up!

Before use, you will need to reattach the water supply line at the back of the toilet and turn the water back on. Then as a final precaution check and double check for leaks. Common leak points are the bolts at the back of the tank, the water supply line, and under the toilet after you flush.

You have now completed removing and installing your bathroom toilet!



Disposing of your old toilet

If your old toilet is not very old, functions perfectly fine, and is still in overall good shape try placing it up on sites such as c

raigslist or Kijiji. You can choose whether or not to charge for it but more importantly you will be helping the environment by not adding to the landfill. Donating it to a local charity such as Habitat for Humanity who has their own ReStore is another option.

If your toilet has lived its useful life then it is time for disposal. The best environmental option in this situation is to find a local recycling centre that processes porcelain. The other option is to drop it off at your local landfill. However if you have a creative side you can upcycle the old toilet!



upcycled toilet


Have any questions? Pointers to others looking to replace their toilet? Ideas for those old toilets?

We would love to hear them! Post below.

Watch this video to see the removal and installation process for yourself!

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One thought on “Replacing a Toilet

  • Jeffrey Goodman

    This article has been very helpful! I have learned the steps of removing a toilet and replacing a new one. This really makes my bathroom renovation that much easier. I will follow these steps especially putting down old towels and newspapers.