So you’ve decided to go ahead and replace your toilet! Whether you’re upgrading to a more efficient model or simply replacing one that’s broken, most of the time it’s a good idea to hire an expert to install the toilet. As with many plumbing jobs, there are complex factors involved. It’s crucial that the toilet is installed perfectly to avoid costly, damaging leaks.
But, just because you may not do the job yourself, it’s still important to know what’s involved. Here’s what to expect when having a new toilet installed.
Removing The Old Toilet
Clearly, before a new toilet can be installed, you have to get rid of the old one. This process is usually not difficult, but can be tricky, especially if you haven’t taken the proper steps to prepare.
It is inevitable that some residual water gets out during this process. The first step is to protect the floors. You don’t want toilet water to be dripped through your hallways so a waterproof tarp or drop cloth should be laid down not just in the bathroom, but on the path out of the house as well.
Once that’s been done, the next step is to cut off the toilet’s water supply. First, the valve by the toilet will be turned off. But if that isn’t sufficient, it may be necessary to shut off the water main. Then the water line from the toilet should be disconnected. Next it’s necessary to flush the toilet a few times to drain the tank, then siphon out any remaining water and residue. A professional will bring a siphon gun for exactly this purpose. Then, the tank will be detached from the bowl. This can sometimes be difficult and may involve cutting the bolts if they can’t be removed.
Once the tank is out of the way the bowl will be removed from the flange, which is a special device that holds the toilet to the floor. Depending on how the toilet was initially installed, it could be fastened to the flange via screws, snap-on connectors, or even plaster of Paris! A plumber will be able to determine how it is attached and the best way to remove it.
Installing The New Toilet
When the old toilet is gone, the plumber can install the new one. The first thing to look at is the flange. Toilet flanges came into widespread use in the mid-1960s, so chances are good that your toilet will have one. If the existing flange is in good condition then it can remain in place, but if it’s rusted or otherwise damaged you will need a new one. A good-quality flange will be constructed from brass or stainless steel, as opposed to the older flanges some of which were made of steel with an epoxy coating that often rust through. And sometimes an older flange is made of cast iron. About 20% of the time cast iron flanges are cracked.
Next, it’s important to inspect the new toilet bowl for defects, whether manufacturing problems or damage caused by delivery. Cracks can be tough to find in a toilet bowl, so it’s important to have an expert take a close look.
Once the bowl has been inspected, the plumber will apply a beeswax bowl-setting compound to the flange. These compounds come in three sizes depending on how high or low the flange is, so again it’s important that the correct size is used. The new toilet bowl will be set in place, pressed into the compound, and fastened to the flange with brass nuts and bolts that are designed for fastening toilets. The plumber will check at this point to make sure that the toilet bowl is perfectly level, with no possible rocking or other motion.
Next the plumber will assemble the toilet tank and insert the bolts that hold it to the bowl. A large, spongy gasket will be placed between the tank and the bowl, and sometimes a rubber cushion will be used as well to keep the tank watertight and stable. The bolts need to be tightened very carefully to prevent any damage to the porcelain.
At this point, the plumber will deal with the inner tank assembly, including the flapper valve, float ball, ballcock, and other essential parts, and adjust it as necessary. Once this is done, the water line will be carefully reconnected and the supply turned back on.
Check, And Double Check, For Leaks And Complete the Installation
Now it’s time to check for leaks in any of a dozen possible places, not only in the connections made by the plumber but also the manufacturer’s connections. The water level in the tank will be properly set and the toilet flushed several times to make sure that it’s working properly. The plumber will double-check the bolts holding the toilet to the flange to make sure that they have not come loose, as the wax may have settled in the meantime.
The final steps include installing the toilet seat, cutting down the bolts if necessary, and of course the cleanup. Finally, the plumber will use caulk to seal the perimeter of the toilet to the floor.
Although this may seem like a fairly straightforward process, any inept plumbing job can result in leaks. This can be especially problematic when a toilet is involved! The last thing you want in your home is a leaky toilet. Make sure all these steps are followed correctly to ensure proper installation and function.