Until you have one under your belt, the question “how long does it take to replace a toilet” is only exceeded by “is replacing a toilet as intimidating as it first sounds?”
Fortunately, removing a toilet is the definition of “all bark and no bite” if you plan and know how to do it correctly.
The following is a step-by-step guideline on removing a toilet and what to expect time-wise.
Why Does the Replacement Time Matter?
If you have multiple bathrooms in your home, the time it takes to replace a toilet does not matter as much as if you only have one functioning toilet. More than one toilet means you can shut down the bathroom with the toilet you want to replace for as long as you need. However, replacement time becomes an issue if your home only has one functioning toilet.
The other factor is the complexity of the job. Most toilets can be removed and replaced easily. Some toilet projects, however, take on a life of their own. If you experience the latter, you could have an out-of-commission toilet for quite some time. Issues that can delay using the new toilet include:
- Bad plumbing or water flow issues
- A new toilet that does not fit the old space
- Cracked or broken toilet
- Mess to clean up from the wax seal
- Having to install the innards of the toilet
A smooth toilet replacement comes down to how you prepare for the possible challenges.
Ballpark Time Estimate
Generally, from start to finish, your toilet replacement should take an hour to two hours if you plan each step before you start the removal process. That does not count the time it takes to select and transport the new toilet to your home or dispose of the old toilet.
Preparing for a toilet replacement involves getting the right tools and materials and having a toilet you know can fit into the space of your old toilet seat.
Tools You Should Have on Hand
You will need several tools to help you with the removal and replacement process. The list below includes preparing for issues with the removal or replacement. The tools you should have on hand include the following:
- Adjustable wrench
- Notched pry bar
Materials You Will Need
Your new toilet may or may not come with the parts you need. Make sure you check whether your model has items like a wax ring seal, flange, and the innards of the toilet water refill tank.
- Towels – larger and smaller to handle leaks, soak up water, or clean up a mess
- Cardboard panel that will accommodate placing the old toilet on it
- Cardboard panel for wax from the old wax ring seal
- Container to catch any leaking water from the shutoff valve
- Small container to scoop water from the old bowl
- Container to put the old toilet water into when you scoop it
- Flexible hose to connect the water source (shutoff valve) to the toilet
- New wax ring seal
- Garbage bag
Making sure you have all these materials and tools at your fingertips can help save you time trying to find the equipment you need or addressing spills or leaks. Depending on what you have at home, this can take minutes or require a trip to the hardware store, which adds time to the installation.
Replacing the Old Toilet
Having the tools and materials on hand can facilitate the time it takes you to remove the old toilet. If the toilet is problematic, your time needed will increase.
Before you touch anything, lay your cardboard panel on the floor so you can put the toilet on it once you remove it. Lay out your containers, towels, and tools within arm’s reach.
Turn the Water Off and Remove the Flexible Hose
Close the shutoff valve and flush the toilet. The toilet should drain and not refill. Once your refill tank drains, flush the toilet again. After the second flush, listen for the sound of water moving into the refill tank. Use the adjustable wrench to remove the flexible hose at the shutoff valve end.
Address Remaining Water
Bail out any water in the toilet bowl or refill the tank. You can ignore this step, but the toilet will be much heavier and more awkward to remove. Use the bailing container to remove the water. You can also shove a towel into the bottom of the bowl and soak up the water.
Loosen and Remove Flange Bolts
Flange bolts are the bolts on the side of the toilet base. If they do not remove easily, you might have to insert your pry bar between the toilet base and the nut to give it friction enough to loosen correctly.
All of this should take you about a half hour.
Remove the Old Toilet
Once the bolts are loose, straddle the toilet facing the refill tank, grip the part of the toilet just behind the seat and lift. Walk the toilet to your cardboard panel and set it down. From there, you can decide how to best move the toilet outside.
Scrape the Wax Ring Off
Use your scraper and remove the wax from the ring that sets on the flange. Put the old wax on the second cardboard panel. You want to ensure all wax is removed from the space underneath the old toilet.
To save time, you should keep the old flange and flange bolts if they are in good condition.
If all goes well, you should have the old toilet removed, wax cleaned, and ready for installation in about 45 minutes.
Installing the New Toilet
Before you do the new toilet install, you need to:
- Place the flange bolts in the slots on the side of the flange
- Insert the new wax ring seal per the directions on your packaging
- Install the new flexible hose to the back of the toilet
- If necessary, install the refill tank parts per instructions on the packaging
This phase should take about 20 minutes unless you must install the refill tank parts, adding another 20 minutes to the job.
By the time you get done, the only thing you should have to do is place and secure the new toilet, attach the flexible hose to the shutoff valve and open the valve to let water fill the refill tank.
Position the New Toilet
Lift the new toilet the same way you removed the old toilet. Line up the new toilet base bolt holes with the flange bolts on the side of the flange. Carefully lower the new toilet straight onto the wax ring and flange (this will happen if you have the flange bolts lined up correctly.)
Reattach the Flange Bolts
Screw the nuts onto the flange bolt. Hand tighten them, and do not over-tighten them as you can break the toilet base.
Ensure the Wax Seal
Sit on the installed toilet to ensure the wax seal adheres to the flange and drain opening. Sit on it for 30 seconds.
Reattach the Flexible Hose
Reattach the flexible hose and turn the water back on. Let the refill tank fill with water. Look for leaks.
Flush the New Toilet
Flush the new toilet and look for leaks at the base. If you did the installation correctly, no moisture should occur.
Installing the new toilet should take about 20 minutes if all goes well.
In total, an easy replacement will take a little over an hour. Dealing with unforeseen challenges will add time to your replacement and installation. Planning will go a long way to ensuring you are prepared for whatever you encounter.