Lord of the Wax Rings – How to Install a New Delta Toilet

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases (more).

Author Eric Brennan removing a wax ringJust like Frodo said “One ring to rule them all”—and he was right. A toilet’s wax ring is the key to keeping the poop where it belongs – in the pits of Mordor (aka your sewer). But whether your toilet is leaking from a faulty wax ring, dripping from an ancient valve or just won’t flush because of a broken flapper that qualifies as an antique, your old toilet might need to be replaced before you have to drop a “Precious” in a bucket outside. Skip the call to your local plumber and don’t worry about the high costs of repairs. Installing your own new toilet, like the Delta Corrente, is easier than throwing a magic ring into a pit of lava. Just follow along with these simple tips and techniques for how to install a toilet with minimal drama.

Removing the Old Toilet

Pulling the old toilet off of the drain hole flange
Pulling the old toilet off of the drain hole flange

This part of replacing an old toilet is the grossest part of any toilet replacement project. Number one tip for removing your old toilet: Clean it really good with a scented disinfectant first.

The first step is shutting off the water. Turn the little knob tight and to the right and disconnect the water line using a crescent wrench. Now flush the toilet until it won’t flush again. If the tank keeps refilling after you shut off the valve, you may have a bad shut-off valve. if that’s the case you’ll need to shut off the main shut-off for the whole house to replace it, or, just hire a plumber if you’re not comfortable with it.

Assuming the shut-off valve worked, remove the excess water from the tank using a sponge. I was lucky enough to be installing a Delta C43904 Corrente Elongated Toilet, which Delta provided us with for this article. It comes with all kinds of great cleanup tools and it even came with a super absorbent sponge to soak up the nasty water in the tank. Use a plunger to push the bowl water down the drain, and then soak up the rest with a disposable sponge.

Getting rid of the old wax ring
Getting rid of the old wax ring

Some people break the next step into two parts. They’ll separate the old tank from the bowl to make it easier to handle. But if you’re like me, you’re looking to get the old crapper out ASAP. Unscrew the two bowl nuts at the base of the toilet bowl, grab the old bowl by its base and rock it forward to release the seal from the toilet and floor. You may need to cut the caulk that joins the toilet bowl to the flooring first using a razor knife. Set the toilet outside and drain any excess water from the tank before you transport it.

Prepping the New Toilet

My Delta toilet came with some really useful tools for getting the old wax ring out without getting any wax-feces on your hands. Some nifty rubber gloves, a super absorbent towel and a plastic scraper all came with my Delta toilet removal kit and I’d certainly recommend that you use the same stuff unless you’re into getting poop on your bare hands.

Like an idiot, I dropped the bolt down the drain. I used a magnet and fishing string to get it back!
Like an idiot, I dropped the bolt down the drain. I used a magnet and fishing line to get it back!

Use an old rag to close up the open sewer pipe. This keeps the stink at bay and prevents you from dropping anything down the hole (see attached photo of me not listening to my own advice). Scrape away all of the old wax ring and toss it in the garbage. Throw out the old rusty bolts and nuts as well. You’ll get brand new ones with the wax ring.

This is where the directions for installing a toilet differ from my experience. Almost all of the toilets I’ve installed, the directions tell you to install the wax ring into the base of the new toilet bowl first. In my experience, the wax ring will fall off of the toilet every time you tilt it onto the drain hole. I prefer to install the wax ring directly onto the drain hole, then put the toilet on the wax ring/drain hole. Just be sure you line up the two new bolts onto the center of the drain hole flange first. Be sure your rough in measurement is maintained from the finished wall behind the toilet to the bolts to get the correct fit.

Putting the wax ring on the bottom of the toilet instead of the drain hole flange doesn't always work
Putting the wax ring on the bottom of the toilet instead of the drain hole flange doesn’t always work

Installing the Bowl

This part is super crucial, so pay attention! Lean the bowl onto its front edge and carefully lower it onto the wax ring and the two bolts. You don’t want to move the bowl once it’s on the wax ring, so make sure it’s aligned correctly before you commit. Sit (don’t rock) on the toilet to press the wax ring and the toilet bowl tight to the floor. Tighten the bolts before moving on to the next step. My Delta toilet came with a handy bolt wrench that made this step super easy. Cover the new bolts with the plastic bolt covers that come with your new toilet.

Attach the Tank

Carefully setting the new toilet onto the wax ring and flange
Carefully setting the new toilet onto the wax ring and flange

Now you can easily attach the tank to the bowl. My Delta toilet has a simple octagon shaped rubber seal that fits onto the tank and seals the two units together. Typically, 2-3 bolts attach the tank to the bowl. Tighten these well to prevent the rubber seal from leaking, but don’t go crazy or you can crack the ceramic.

You may need to install the guts for the tank, or you may not. My Delta toilet came complete and ready to install with the water supply, flapper and other components preinstalled, so I just attached the tank to the bowl, tightened down the nuts and it was good to go.

Installing the tank to bowl rubber seal
Installing the tank to bowl rubber seal

Once the tank was tight, I reattached the supply line to the tank using the supplied wrench, and then I threw it in the garbage. I got out my trusty crescent wrench and finished the job. If you’re used to working with your own tools, chances are you may favor them over what’s included with the the Delta toilet. Otherwise, the toilet comes with just about anything you might need to do your installation.

Last, but not least, I attached the lid to the bowl using a new Delta innovation; a seat mounting bracket. The seat simply slides onto the bracket and locks in place. This prevents the seat from coming loose in the future; which I like a lot. The old two bolt method is a pain in the butt, literally. Once the bolts come loose, the seat will slip and slide all over the place.

Test Run

Nifty Delta toilet seat mounting bracket
Nifty Delta toilet seat mounting bracket

Turn on the water supply and let the toilet fill up. Once the tank is full, check the fill line in the tank. Adjust the fill valve as needed to increase or decrease the water in the tank to the appropriate level. Finally, flush the toilet and check for leaking water anywhere, but particularly on the water line. If it’s dry and the toilet is operating normally, congrats on a stellar toilet installation.

You can read more about the new line of Delta toilets via DeltaToilets.com. They range a very reasonable $200-$300. When installed in a bathroom showroom, they look just like the image below!


Photo of author

About Eric

Since Eric built his first skateboard ramp in his parents driveway; he’s breathed, slept and eaten DIY construction. As a second generation master carpenter who runs two Florida-based construction firms, Eric’s had the chance to work on everything from Mcmansions to your local mall to the cat lady’s bathroom. So when it comes to dealing with construction s@#t; he’s the man—literally. There isn’t a tool or construction material that Eric hasn’t used and abused, and if there is; it’s rocking in a dark corner nervously waiting for him to show up for work.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get access to free prizes, product sneak-peeks, reviews, how-to's and much more!

More Info | Email Privacy

5 thoughts on “Lord of the Wax Rings – How to Install a New Delta Toilet”

  1. The fill valves leak and the new replacement valves also leaked, you can only get the valves from Delta so you are left with a leaking fill valve until Delta ships them, estimated time of delivery, 7/10 days via snail mail!?
    I suggest you do not buy Delta C43904 for any reason !!!!!!!!

  2. hello Eric, great article! It should help take (some of) the fear out of this task for the first timer or the wannabe DIY’er. I haven’t seen the instructions for installing the tank but one of the shortcuts commonly taken (and i would include professionals as one of the MAIN offenders!!) is to NOT include the nuts that fasten the bolts into the tank itself and merely run the bolts from tank interior through the base and nut them there… I’m not explaining this very well for the novice but you probably know what i’m talking about. This reduces the torque you can apply to the bolts to compress the rubber washers that seal the bolt heads on the inside of the tank. I see this ALL the time. and (IMO) you run a greater risk of cracking a tank because you have to torque more from the base to seal the tank bolt heads inside the tank. The nut on the bottom will have to do double duty; seal the tank gasket to the base and seal the bolt heads. So, fasten the bolts completely to the tank as the instructions probably indicate. That ‘shortcut’ might not be such a time saver.
    my 2 cents…
    Happy Holidays!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.