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Old Toilet Removal

Sure, you could just take a sledge hammer to it. But imagine the mess and the subsequent cleanup. It is far easier to remove a toilet in a measured and systematic manner that will minimize mess and even contamination.

Before doing anything, clean the bowl to avoid having to handle a dirty and soiled toilet. Next, shut off water to the toilet. Most often there is a valve where the supply pipe comes out of the wall and connects to the toilet. If water cannot be shut off at this point, (many older homes do not have a valve specifically for the toilet) the water to the whole house should be shut off. However, this may prove inconvenient for others in the house. At this point you may want to think about installing a shut off valve, if only to isolate the job from the system in the rest of the house. In cases where the valve does not seem to completely shut off the water, try turning it on and off a few times. There may be some corrosive build up. Avoid turning the valve too hard.

Now flush the tank until there is little or no water remaining inside. In some cases, a bit of baling may be required to remove all of the water. Now disconnect the supply water from the tank. Often this can be done by hand, with an adjustable wrench, or with a pair of adjustable pliers (often referred to as channel-locks). Most toilets come in two pieces, the tank and the bowl. These are normally connected with two bolts that run through rubber washers and are secured on the under side of the bowl by nuts. Generally, a screwdriver applies to the bolts from the top of the tank, while holding the nuts on the underside with the adjustable wrench. Carefully lift the tank from the top of the bowl.

With all the flushing, the bowl should be near empty. If not, empty it as much as possible, by baling and using a sponge.

The bowl is bolted to a flange in the floor. The bolts come up near the back of the bowl and are normally covered with caps. Remove the caps and take off the nuts from the inverted bolts. There are normally only two bolts, these should have a stop on the underside preventing them from turning while the nut is turned. On some toilets, which have seen a lot of service, these bolts may be corroded. Don't hesitate to use some kind of lubricant like WD-40 or Triflow to assist in removal. Most o f the time the lubricants will work. If not, resort to the hacksaw. With the nuts removed, the bowl should easily lift off from the bolts. However, remember that there is a wax ring that helps to keep a tight fit between the floor and the drain. This will often come away with the bowl. So when it is set down it may soil whatever it sits on. Be prepared to rest it on a piece of wood or some other object that is disposable. Place a rag in the drain hole or use a drain plug to prevent gasses from entering the house from the now trapless drain.

Now scrape off the remaining wax from the drain flange. Discard the old wax ring. There are several good reasons that it should not be reused. It can be contaminated from exposure to the matter that has been flushed. Also, once the seal has been broken, it may not mold securely to the new bowl that is to replace the old one. Thoroughly clean the area where the new toilet is to be placed to avoid harboring any germs.

Often an old toilet is still serviceable. If a new owner can be found, willing to accept it, this is preferable. Although there may be some lead in the porcelain, there are no real hazards associated with this material. Taking an old toilet to a landfill or relinquishing it to the garbage collectors can be done with a fairly clear conscience.

Next Page: How to Plumb for a Toilet

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