Dismantling Toilets

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If you’re moderately hale, this is a one-person job. The hardest part is lifting and carrying the fixture after it has been removed. Even though you will empty the toilet and tank of water, a considerable amount will be left in the drain trap; therefore, place an old towel or two in your bathtub or shower to protect the surface and lift the disconnected toilet into the tub, dumping the trapped water there. You may want assistance with this.

Tools: wrench; screwdriver or putty knife; pliers.

Supplies: old towels; sponge; masking tape; rags; new closet flange (if necessary); bucket.

1. Remove toilet seat and lid by unscrewing the bolts, Turn off the water supply to the toilet, either at the building’s main shutoff valve or at the fixture’s shutoff valve. Flush the toilet until both the bowl and the tank are empty, and sponge up the remaining water from both parts of the fixture.

2. Disconnect the water supply line by unscrewing the retaining nut at the bottom of the tank and the coupling nut at the local shutoff valve. Remove the connector pipe, and cover the opening to the supply line with masking tape until you are ready to install the new toilet. (This will keep the pipes free of dust and debris.) If the tank is connected to the bowl, remove the nuts on the tank bolts located under the rim at the back of the bowl. Some old toilets have an L-shape pipe connecting tank and bowl; if your toilet is one of these, unscrew the coupling nuts that connect the fixture to the pipe, and remove the bolts. If the bowl is also attached to the wall, remove the bolts that secure it there. Re move the tank from the bowl or wall, and set it aside.

3. The bowl itself is fastened to the floor by two or four bolts that pass up through the flange at the bottom of the fixture; these bolts are covered with small ceramic or plastic caps glued or puttied to the flange. Pry the caps off with a screwdriver or putty knife and re move the nuts.

4. The bowl is now held to the floor by only gravity and a small water tight seal of wax or putty. Rock the bowl gently from side to side until the seal breaks and the bowl comes free. Lift the bowl off its bolts, gently place it on the towel in the bathtub, and tip out the water that remains in the trap. Set the bowl aside.

5. The metal flange, or “closet flange,” around the drainpipe opening in the floor is now ex posed. Slide the bolts out and scrape the flange and surrounding floor clean of the old wax or putty seal. Inspect the flange for cracks or other damage. If it has to be replaced, do so before you install your finish floor and new fixture. Flanges are available for about $8. Stuff the drainpipe opening with rags to keep it free of debris and to block sewage gas until you’re ready to install your new toilet.




  • Stuff drainpipe with rags
  • Retaining nut
  • Supply line opening
  • Ceramic or plastic cap
  • Rock gently to break seal

Next: Bathtubs

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Updated: Tuesday, 2011-06-21 18:43