How to Remove and Replace a Toilet

Replacement toilet inside white walled and tiled bathroom with light decor

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $100 to $500

Toilets are very durable fixtures, but sooner or later you'll likely want to replace one in your house—perhaps for cosmetic reasons or because the toilet is broken or cracked, or because it's a water-wasting dinosaur. If the toilet is simply leaking and you need to replace its wax ring, you'll follow the same steps for removal and reinstallation. 

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Watch Now: How to Properly Set a Toilet to Prevent Leaks

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Large sponge
  • Bucket
  • Tongue-and-groove pliers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Hacksaw blade (as needed)
  • Putty knife
  • 2-foot level
  • Old towels

Materials

  • New toilet
  • Toilet shims (as needed)
  • Wax ring
  • Silicone caulk (optional)

Instructions

Materials and tools to replace a toilet

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  1. Drain the Toilet

    Turn off the toilet's water supply valve by turning the valve handle clockwise until it stops. Flush the toilet to empty the tank. Remove the tank lid and set it aside in a safe place. Mop out the remaining water from the tank and the bowl with a large sponge. Squeeze the water out into a bucket and repeat the process until the tank and bowl are ​dry.

    Toilet being drained with yellow sponge soaking up water

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  2. Remove the Mounting Nuts

    Disconnect the water supply tube that connects to the tailpiece of the fill valve on the toilet tank, using tongue-and-groove pliers. Remove the porcelain or plastic caps on the floor bolts (called closet bolts) that hold the toilet to the floor. Remove the nuts the bolts, using an adjustable wrench. If the nuts are rusted in place and cannot be removed, cut off the bolts below the nuts with a hacksaw blade.

    Mounting nuts at base of toilet being removed with adjustable wrench

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  3. Pull the Toilet

    Have a helper to assist you in lifting the toilet bowl and tank assembly off of the closet bolts. Place the toilet on a soft, absorbent material, such as old towels or an old rug, or even a stack of newspapers, to prevent staining your flooring.

    Toilet pulled from floor while holding each side of bowl

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  4. Inspect the Flange

    Gently lay the toilet on its side or back, making sure the tank and bowl are supported. To avoid getting wax anywhere around the house as you dispose of the old toilet, it's best to scrape off the old wax ring from the bottom of the bowl with a putty knife. Also, it's essential to remove all wax from the closet flange on the floor. 

    Inspect the closet flange. If it is damaged, you will have to replace or repair it. 

    Tip

    If you need to replace your toilet flange, choose a suitable replacement part (or kit) and install it following the manufacturer's instructions. 

    Toilet flange inspected before removing old wax ring

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  5. Test-Fit the New Toilet

    Test-fit the base of the new toilet by temporarily setting it on the flange and checking to make sure the closet bolts align with the holes in the base. Also, make sure the toilet sits level, using a 2-foot level. If necessary, level the toilet by shimming beneath it with stainless steel or plastic shims.

    Remove the toilet and gently set it upside down (if separated from the tank) or on its side or back (if the tank is attached) on a protective surface, such as an old rug.

    New toilet test fitted near bolt holes at base for alignment

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  6. Apply the Wax Ring

    Place a new wax ring over the horn (the raised ring around the drain hole at the bottom of the toilet base) and press it firmly until it is well seated. Be careful not to damage the wax ring or set the toilet down with the ring attached until the final installation. Once the ring touches the floor, it cannot be reused.

    Tip

    Foam gaskets, or waxless rings, offer a mess-free and easy-to-use alternative to conventional wax rings. The best thing about foam rings is that they're reusable; you can move and reset the toilet without having to replace the ring.

    New wax ring placed under toilet around drain hole

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  7. Set the Toilet

    Place the flange bolts into their respective slots on the flange so their threaded ends are pointing straight up. Carefully lift the toilet (with or without the tank) with a helper, and set it onto the closet flange, slipping the holes in the base over the flange bolts. Push the toilet base down with gentle rocking pressure until the it is firmly seated against the floor.

    Flange bolts inserted into slots for setting toilet

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  8. Tighten the Nuts

    Warning

    While toilets tend to be pretty sturdy pieces of equipment, it's surprisingly easy to crack them by over-tightening nuts. Don't be afraid to get things extremely snug, but be careful about making things too tight to avoid damaging the bowl or tank.

    Install the washer and nut onto each closet bolt. Tighten the nuts gradually, alternating from one side of the toilet to the other to keep the pressure similar on both sides of the toilet. Be careful not to over-tighten the bolts, or the tank base may crack. Cover the bolts with the plastic caps.

    Install the toilet tank onto the base, if they were separated. To do so, you'll need to put the flush valve gasket that comes with the tank on the bottom, around the center opening, and secure the mounting bolts through the inside of the tank. Then, place the tank on the bowl being sure to slip the mounting bolts through the holes in the bowl, and add and tighten the nuts and washers until the tank is secure and level.

    Closet bolts at toilet base tightened with wrench

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  9. Finish the Job

    Connect the water supply tube to the fill valve on the new toilet tank, and tighten it gently with pliers. Open the toilet's shutoff valve by turning it counterclockwise all the way. Let the toilet tank fill, then flush the toilet to check for proper operation. Watch for leaks at the water line connections and around the toilet base. If desired, seal around the base of the toilet with a bead of pure silicone caulk. Some installers leave the very back of the base uncaulked so that a toilet leak will reveal itself more readily. 

    Tip

    Most new toilets come with the fill valve and flush valve already installed in the tank, but it's possible you will need to buy these fittings separately and install them yourself. This is easiest to do before installing the toilet, but you can do it afterward, too. 

    Water turned on through shutoff valve handle being turned

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris