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How to Remove an Old or Damaged Toilet

Is your toilet cracked, uncomfortable, or in need of constant repair? Or maybe your toilet is simply old and in need of updating. Replacing your toilet is fairly simple when compared to other DIY projects, and you can complete this project in only a few hours. First, you need to remove the old toilet; a process that requires some planning, a few tools, and some materials. Explore the guide below to learn how you can safely remove your old toilet. 

How to Remove the Toilet

1. Gather the Proper Tools


You’re ready to replace your old toilet, but before you remove it, you’ll want to make sure that you have everything you need to complete this project. 

To get started, gather the following tools and materials: an adjustable wrench (or two depending on the age or condition of some of the bolts and connections), a bucket for excess water, a sponge, gloves, a putty knife, a flathead screwdriver, and a large industrial trash bag. You’ll also need an old cloth or towel that you can place on the floor to collect any spilled water and to block the drain in the floor. 

2. Drain the Water

Before disconnecting or removing the toilet, you need to remove the water from the toilet. Use the water shutoff valve, located down and to the left of the base of the toilet, to stop the toilet from refilling. Next, remove the lid from the tank, carefully set it aside, and flush the water out of the toilet. 

Keep the lever down until you see that all or most of the water has drained from the bowl and back of the toilet. If any water remains, you can use a sponge and bucket to soak up any remaining water. You’ll want to get as much water out as possible so that you don’t slip on the floor of your bathroom.

3. Disconnect Your Toilet

Once you’ve completely drained the toilet, you can start disconnecting it for disassembly. Using an adjustable wrench, disconnect the water hose from the shutoff valve. If your house has hard water, you may notice mineral buildup around the connection. 

If you discover this buildup, you’ll most likely have to use two adjustable wrenches to detach the hose, one to hold the valve in place and the other to break the mineral seal. Consider spraying a small amount of white vinegar on the connection and allow it to sit for a few minutes to remove the mineral buildup. 

If you’re planning to reuse the water supply hose for the new toilet, you’ll need to disconnect both ends of it, one from the underside of the tank and the other from the water shutoff valve. If you’re replacing the supply hose, disconnect the hose from the valve and leave the other end connected to the toilet.

4. Dismantle Your Toilet


Next, you’ll need to separate the tank of the toilet from the base. To accomplish this step, look at the underside of the tank for two mounting bolts that fasten the two halves together. Once you’ve found the bolts, use the wrench to unscrew each of the nuts. After you’ve removed each of the nuts, the tank should lift off straight from the base. 

If the tank doesn’t lift off easily, gently rock the tank back and forth while lifting it straight up to disengage the tank from the bowl of the toilet. Each section of the toilet can be heavy, so lift each part with caution. Consider taking the tank out of the bathroom and moving it to a safe location in another part of your home.

From this stage, you should be left with only the bowl of the toilet. On either side of the bowl, you’ll find two mounting bolts that keep your toilet fastened to the floor. Remove each nut so that your toilet is free from the floor. The base of the toilet will most likely still be sealed with a layer of caulk, which you may need to break before you can lift the base.

Use your flathead screwdriver and slide it between the floor and the bottom of the toilet to break this seal. Once the bowl of the toilet is free, you can lift it off of the mounting screws and set the bowl in the trash bag to catch any water that may still be somewhere in the bowl itself.

5. Finishing Touches


Although you’ve removed the toilet, take a few additional steps before you install the new toilet. Ball up the old cloth or towel that you have in the drain in the floor to prevent any sewer gases from entering your house. As you look at the drain, you’ll notice the mounting bolts extending upward from the closet flange or toilet flange. The closet flange is the connecting piece between the toilet itself and the drain. Resting on top of the toilet flange is a wax ring, which helps seal the gap between the flange and the toilet base. 

Use your putty knife to start scraping away the old wax ring from the flange. You can dispose of the old ring as you’ll need to replace it anyway to guarantee you have a proper seal and no leaks from the base of your toilet. 

Once you’ve removed the old wax ring, empty the bucket and turn the bucket upside down to place it over the drain as another way to prevent sewer gases from entering your house. To dispose of your old toilet, call a waste removal service that covers your area to determine whether the service will collect it through curbside pickup. If not, you may need to consult a professional home services expert for proper disposal of the old toilet.

We’ve covered all the steps you need to know about removing your old toilet. With the old toilet removed, you are now ready to install a new toilet in its place in your home’s powder room or bathroom.

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