How To Remove a Toilet

Bathroom interior with claw foot bathtub

Marlene Ford / Getty Images

Overview
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

If an old toilet is giving you frequent trouble, replacing it may be the best option. A new toilet can solve many problems and should provide years of trouble-free service. It's also a good opportunity to install a model that saves water. Removing the old toilet is the first step in replacing it with a new one. Both processes are moderately easy projects to do on your own.

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Watch Now: How to Drain & Remove a Toilet

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Sponge
  • Bucket
  • Tongue-and-groove pliers
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Utility knife
  • Putty knife

Materials

  • Latex or rubber gloves

Instructions

  1. Turn off the Water

    Shut off the water supply to the toilet by turning off the shutoff valve located on the supply pipe below the toilet tank. The valve may also be mounted on the wall behind the toilet.

    If your valve is as old as your toilet, it might be a good idea to replace it as well. Replacing the valve is easy to do while removing the toilet. If you plan to change the valve, you will have to shut off the water to the entire house.

    Turn off toilet water supply valve
    Aaron Stickley
  2. Empty the Toilet

    Remove all of the water from the toilet bowl and tank. Start by flushing the toilet to get the water out of the tank. Hold down the handle until the water stops draining. Remove any remaining water out of the tank and bowl, using a large sponge and bucket. Put on rubber gloves and use the sponge to soak up the water, then wring it out in the bucket. 

    Drain the toilet water with a sponge
    Aaron Stickley
  3. Prepare the Toilet for Pulling

    Disconnect the water supply tube from the toilet tank, using tongue-and-groove pliers to unscrew the tube's mounting nut from the tailpiece on the water inlet valve, located on the bottom left side of the tank. Remove the plastic bolt covers at the base of the toilet bowl, prying them up with a flathead screwdriver. Use pliers to remove the nuts and washers from the toilet floor bolts (called closet bolts). 

    If desired, disconnect the tank from the bowl by removing the nuts under the tank that fasten the tank to the bowl. You may need to use a screwdriver to hold the slotted heads of the bolts inside the tank in order to turn the nuts. Pull the tank up and off of the bowl to remove it.

    Remove toilet water supply and unscrew bolt nuts
    Aaron Stickley
  4. Cut the Caulk Along the Floor

    Cut through the layer or caulk around the base of the toilet, using a utility knife. Be careful not to damage the flooring. Wiggle the toilet from side to side to break its bond with the floor.

    Cut away toilet caulking
    Aaron Stickley
  5. Pull the Toilet

    Lift the toilet bowl straight up and off of the closet bolts to remove the toilet. If you didn't remove the tank, you might want to have a helper for this step, and be careful not to stress the tank bolts, which could crack the porcelain.  

    Removing toilet in two pieces
    Aaron Stickley
  6. Clean Up the Floor and Flange

    Remove all of the old caulking from the floor, using a putty knife. Be careful not to damage the flooring. Also remove the wax around the toilet flange, the plastic or metal fitting at the top of the toilet's drain pipe (where the closet bolts sit), and scrape away the residual wax as best as you can. You are now ready to install the new toilet.

    Keep in mind that the new toilet may have a different footprint than the old one. If the new base is smaller, you may be able to see the outline of the old toilet. Clean all residue and discoloration so the outline of the old toilet is not visible; this is easiest to do when the toilet is removed, rather than after you've installed the new toilet. 

    Remove toilet wax and caulking
    Aaron Stickley