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How to Change a Toilet

Ask This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey gives some DIY Smarts and shows the basics of changing a toilet.

Steps for Changing a Toilet:

  1. Shut the water off at the toilet. The shutoff valve should be to the left of the toilet.
  2. Flush the toilet to drain out as much water as possible. The rest can be removed with a sponge and a bucket.
  3. Break the water connection from the hose to the toilet tank. It usually can be loosened with hands alone.
  4. Use the open-ended adjustable wrench to loosen the closet bolts on both sides of the toilet. Remove the nuts and the washers.
  5. Use the grips under the toilet to carefully lift the toilet straight up off the bolts. Place the toilet on a piece of plywood or drop cloth to protect the floor.
  6. Wearing gloves, remove the wax around the flange using a putty knife.
  7. Check to ensure the closet flange is intact. Replace if it is broken.
  8. Insert new closet bolts into the flange. Buy ones with plastic tabs on them so they stay in place. It will make it easier to put the toilet back on.
  9. Add a new wax ring to the flange.
  10. Carefully put the toilet back on the flange and push to set into the wax ring.
  11. Add the toilet cap base to the closet bolts on both sides.
  12. Put the washer and nut back on each closet bolt. Secure them on both sides with the open-ended adjustable wrench. Take turns securing each side and do not overtighten to prevent damaging the toilet.
  13. Use the mini hacksaw to carefully cut the closet bolts close to the nut.
  14. Add the toilet cap to the closet bolt. It should snap right into the cap base.
  15. Hand tighten the water connection back to the toilet.
  16. Turn the water back on.


Everything Richard used to remove and reinstall the toilet, including the sponge, bucket, wrench, and closet bolts, can be found via The Home Depot.

Shop Toilets at Home Depot