Maybe your current toilet might is cracked or broken. Or it could outdated, the wrong color, the wrong style, or a water guzzler. Whatever the reason, there comes a time when you just have to replace it.
Luckily, the toilet is one of the most affordable household fixtures. Toilets are available as either one-piece (with tank and bowl attached) or two-piece (with separate tank and bowl); the latter is more popular in residential homes. Popular models generally cost less than $100 to $200. You'll pay extra for toilets with a vintage look, those that are taller than average (often referred to as "comfort-height), super-stylish models and water-saving dual-flush models (single flush for liquids, double flush for solids).
But while the fixture itself is a deal, the labor charges for replacing it can break the bank. Some plumbers charge $100 in labor to replace a toilet, with increased rates for extras such as replacing the water supply line. Other plumbers charge bigger fees -- up to $300 or more to replace a toilet. The pricing depends on the plumber and the going rates in your area.
Before you decide whether to do it yourself or call out a plumber, consider what's involved.
THE HIRE-IT-OUT METHOD
One reason you might consider hiring a plumber to replace your toilet is a fear of toying with your home's plumbing. But with no pipes to contend with, all that's involved is shutting off the water supply valve, which is on the wall. If the valve is frozen or stuck shut, though, it may need to be replaced, which would require shutting off the water to house.
Ok, maybe you don't want to get your hands dirty. A plumber will flush the toilet and then remove the excess water i the tank with either with a wet/dry vacuum (the preferred method) or with sponges, a bucket, (the usual method). For the latter, gloves protect hands from bacteria.
Reluctant to lift the toilet? A typical vitreous china model can weight anywhere from 100 to 150 pounds -- for some, that's too heavy to budge without a partner. For others, no sweat. You can remove the
toilet in one piece (making it heavier to lift) or in two pieces by taking out the bolts connecting the tank to the bowl.
The job is not difficult as long as nothing goes wrong. To save the plumber's fee, consider what this project requires for you to take it on.
THE DO-IT-YOURSELF METHOD
Think you want to replace the toilet yourself? Here's what you'll need:
Tools and Materials
: You can get a perfectly good toilet for around $100
. But a dual-flush model for $150
is so darned cool that you might spring for the extra cash. You can get white or black toilets, cream-colored toilets, and colored toilets. But beware of trendy colors that may go out of style.
: Here's where you really get to express your individuality. And let's face it, you'll have a closer relationship with the toilet seat than any other part of the fixture. A nice painted wood toilet seat is around $10
, but you can spring for a deluxe quiet-close model for $50
. At the top end are toilet seats with warm water and bidet functions for more than $1,000
Socket or adjustable wrench
: One of these two tools is required to loosen the nuts on the bolts holding the toilet to the floor. You can get a socket set for as little as $13, but I suggest paying more and getting a nicer set for about $30
: If you're separating the tank from the bowl (to make the toilet easier to lift), you'll need a screwdriver and a wrench. To attach the new tank to the new bowl, you'll need the same tools. Cost: $5 to $20
: Actually, I hope you don't need a hacksaw. But if the bolts holding the toilet to the floor are stripped or stuck, you might need to saw the bolt off.
: This is the key ingredient that keeps the toilet sealed to the gasket on the floor (you'll probably reuse the existing gasket already screwed to the floor) and keeps water from leaking all over. You can buy a wax gasket for less than $5
and a whole kit with bolts for less than $8
. Again, one of the great deals in home improvement products.
After you've shut off the water supply and drained the water, it's time to remove the bowl. First, remove the nuts on the bolts securing the bowl to the floor. Then rock the toilet gently from side to side to loosen up the wax ring (which seals the base of the bowl to the floor). Then lift the toilet up. Stuff a rag or ball of newspaper in the now-exposed pipe to prevent sewer gases from filling the room (but make sure to remove it before installing the new toilet).
Then install a new wax ring, as well as new bolts into the existing floor flange. The new toilet bowl (or whole toilet if it's a one-piece unit) must be lowered down so the holes on the base of the toilet line up with the bolts sticking up from the flange. Tightening the nuts onto the bolts should be done carefully; too loose and your toilet doesn't sit right, too tight and you break the toilet.
For the final touch, a bead of caulk between the toilet and floor gives you that finished look.
So the question is: To DIY, or not to DIY? Are you feeling lucky? It might be worth a try.
Watch a video from The Home Depot on replacing a toilet.