Just 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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!