How To Remove A Toilet

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Most people have never had to remove a toilet but then were unprepared when the need arose – most find that eventually, they will need to learn. Learning how to remove a toilet is surprisingly easy. After you do it once or twice, it will seem like the easiest thing in the world. We also recommend reading about how to clean toilet seat for sanitation purposes.

This article will describe how to remove a toilet in case it becomes too old and needs to be replaced – let's get right into it.

Turn off the water supply to the toilet.

Shut off the water supply valve leading to your toilet. You will find it right behind the toilet, on the wall or floor, close to where the water line comes in. If you have a low-flow toilet, then you may need an adjustable wrench or a basin wrench to turn this valve (reverse shutoff valves). 

Turn these around so that the handle points in the opposite direction than normal (to turn off). Make sure to mark this position with a piece of tape or use some other method. Then, place the wrench on the valve and slowly start turning it counter-clockwise.

Loosen the nuts that hold the toilet in place and remove them.

Locate the nut that holds your toilet in place. There should be two of these nuts. One will be on each side and they are just below the bolts with which you bolt the bowl to the floor or strainer.

Loosen them using a wrench, but do not remove them yet. If you have trouble loosening them and you have an old toilet, then this is probably because your plumber used “pipe dope” or some other form of thread sealant when he installed it.

How to Remove a Toilet
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This stuff is really hard to break loose. To break it loose, use a wrench to hold the nut still and then begin tapping them with a hammer. After you get through this layer, continue working on it as normal with your wrench.

Use a plunger or a bucket of water to dispose of any standing water in your toilet bowl.

Get rid of any water in your toilet bowl that has accumulated. This can be done with a plunger if the water is not too deep, or you can use a bucket of water to dispose of it. The idea here is that you should completely remove all standing water. 

If there is still some water left behind, then you will run into trouble as soon as you begin turning nuts and bolts because they will spin easily but have no space for movement. Naturally, this applies only to toilets with tank lids.

plunger to remove water in washroom
Image Credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo

Turn off the mechanism that helps prevent accidental flushing. 

Many newer models of the toilet have an anti-flood mechanism that increases resistance against flushing when the handle is released (this increases safety). To turn this off, you will need to release the flapper (usually located on the top of your tank) from its seat. To do this, use a bucket and some water. Fill up your toilet bowl with water (this is very easy), then lift the handle of your toilet so that it flushes and releases all of the water from your toilet into the bucket. This might be slightly different if you have a dual flush toilet available. Now, look inside of your tank. You will see an accordion-shaped thing made out of rubber or silicone – this is called a “flapper”. 

Pry the side tabs open which hold it in place and then remove it entirely. Remember which direction it was facing – you will need to put it back later.

Disconnect all connections from underneath your toilet, including piping, electrical wires, and flooring etcetera.

Once you have removed the flapper and loosened the nuts on either side of your toilet, it should now be very easy to remove. Simply lift one end of your toilet and then go underneath it and disconnect everything – which means all pipes, flooring, wires etcetera. 

Tie them in a bundle using some plastic bags or something similar so that they don't get dirty or damaged. Then, carry this whole kit over to a place where you can work more easily (let's say in the bathtub).

Take off the bolts holding your bowl onto its base. 

Once you've gone underneath it again, unscrew whatever is left on top using your wrench. The only thing remaining should be the two bolts with which you bolt the bowl to its base. 

Remove old wax ring

Clean out the space where your toilet bowl was. After you remove these bolts, make sure to mark their positions with a piece of tape or some other method so that you can put them back in the same position when it is time to reattach everything. Now, using a screwdriver, try to pry apart and loosen up any remaining bits of a wax ring. 

This will be hard if they have already dried up completely – if this is the case, then just break off anything else that might be left (use a hammer). Then take a rag and soak it in water. Now wipe off all residue from that area where your toilet bowl has been sitting. 

If there is still tenacious goo stuck on there which won't come off, then try getting it off with some vinegar. It may take a little bit of scrubbing to get everything out – give it your all so that none will be stuck underneath and prevent a good seal.

Replace the wax ring and put back things inside of tank

Now you should have just the following parts in your hands: toilet bowl (empty), old wax ring, plunger or bucket of water, 2 bolts/spacers, nuts, washer (the one which came out from under the bolt).

Place the new wax ring down on top of its place where your toilet bowl used to sit. Now push it into place using either your thumb or screwdriver or any other method you can think of. Go under there again and fit the 2 bolts into their respective holes. Put on the washer that came out before. Now hold your toilet bowl up under there and try to get those nuts back onto the bolts which will be tight, but doable using pliers or your wrench if you have one.

Reattach all connections underneath the toilet …and done.

Now, it is simply a matter of putting all of your pipes back in place (in reverse order), reconnecting any flooring as well as reattaching the flapper, and turning on the mechanism that prevents accidents from happening. If you're worried about spills, then find something to keep water inside of the tank (like a cup) at least until you can make sure everything fits correctly.

Clean up the mess and pat yourself on the back.

Congratulations. You have just successfully removed your toilet. Now just wash up the area where you worked, put everything else in its place, then turn on the water and flush a few times to make sure that there are no leaks.

How to Remove a Toilet Yourself
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If there are, then fix them at this time since they will only get worse later on.

Final thoughts on How to remove a toilet

In conclusion, remember that this job is as easy or as hard as you want to make it. So if you feel that it will be very difficult for you, then just hire a professional plumber. But if you don't mind getting your hands dirty (and maybe learning something in the process), then go ahead and do it yourself.

Finally, check out this article on the Best Flushing Toilet in 2021 if you’re in the market to buy a new toilet.


Mark Weber

Mark Weber

Mark started out as an electrical engineer before he became a licensed bathroom remodeling contractor. He loves writing about bathrooms and remodeling in his spare time, as it relaxes him to think of something besides work.

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