Replacing your Toilet

One of the best ways to lower your water costs and conserve water is to replace your old toilet 3.5 gallon per flush with a new 1.6 gallon per flush toilet.

If your home was built before 1994 it is likely to have toilets that are still using nearly two more gallons of water than necessary. Typically, older 3.5-gallon toilet models use 11,000 more gallons of water per year for a family of four over the 1.6-gallon toilets. Consumers now have the opportunity, and some might say, obligation, to upgrade to a toilet that uses 1.6 gallons of water or less.

Some toilet models now offer a 1.4-gallon flush option. A 1.4-gallon flush setting instead of 1.6, in a household of four can save over 2,000 gallons of water a year without sacrificing flushing performance.

Hiring a licensed plumber to swap out an older toilet for a new low-flow model is the best option, however, innovative features on today’s toilets now make it possible for handy do-it-yourselfers to complete the job in just six steps.

Step 1: Gather materials and tools

Tools you need for installing a toilet are a sponge and bucket, plunger, putty knife, rag, wrench, socket set, level, and hacksaw. Materials you will need include a flexible toilet supply line, wax ring, bolts, toilet (bowl and tank), and toilet seat.

Step 2: Remove existing toilet

Turn off the water supply going to the existing toilet then flush it to remove water from the bowl and tank. Use a large sponge to soak up the remaining water from the tank and use a plunger to push excess water from the bowl. Disconnect the water supply line from the inlet valve. This is usually located on the bottom of the left hand side of the tank. Most likely the old toilet is a 2-piece model so you will need to unscrew the bolts that connect the tank to the bowl in order to remove the tank. Then unscrew the bolts securing the toilet to the floor to completely remove the old toilet.

Remove the old wax ring and using a putty knife, scrape off the additional residue left behind on the toilet flange. After the toilet is removed, there will be an exposed line to the sewer system. Stuff a large rag into the hole to prevent tools from falling in and to avoid the possibility of sewer gases from backing up into your home.

Step 3: Place new toilet bowl in position

If the toilet flange is damaged, you should stop the process and contact a plumber. If the flange is in good condition, insert new bolts into the notches in the flange. Next, press the new wax ring, flat side facing down, on the flange. Remove the rag from the flange opening then lower the toilet bowl gently onto the flange so that the holes in the base of the bowl align with the bolts in the flange. Press the bowl firmly down, do not twist or rock the bowl on the wax ring. Place the washers and nuts on the bolts and hand-tighten them. To prevent the toilet from cracking, you need to tighten the nuts one quarter turn at a time with a wrench and alternate sides of the toilet between each quarter turn. If the bolts extend too far over the top of the washers and nuts, you will need to cut off the excess length with a hacksaw.

Step 4: Attach new tank

Place the tank down on the toilet bowl lining up the bolts that attach the tank to the bowl and fasten them together with the washer and nuts provided with the toilet. Place a level across the top of the tank and the backside of the bowl to ensure that the toilet is level with the floor and water is distributed evenly throughout the tank then securely tighten the nuts on the bolts being careful not to over tighten which can crack the tank.

Step 5: Attach supply line and check it for leaks

After you have attached the tank to the bowl securely attach the water supply line to the toilet’s inlet valve. If the supply line from your old toilet was constructed of solid tubing, you will need to install a flexible water supply line before attaching to the toilet’s inlet valve. Turn on the water supply valve allowing the toilet to fill. Flush the toilet several times checking for leaks. If there are no leaks, apply a bead of silicone caulk or grout around the base of the toilet. This will help secure it in place. The lid can now be placed on top of the tank.

Step 6: Attach toilet seat

Insert the plastic bolts supplied with the seat through hinges and into the holes in the bowl hand tighten the wing nuts also provide onto the plastic bolt then snap the plastic hinge covers over the head of the bolt.

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