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DIY Toilet Replacement Tips for Women

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Stacie L became a DIYer for many reasons—mostly to save money. She has tips that she has used herself to help with your DIY projects.


A toilet by any other name

There are many names can we use to describe the toilet in our homes. Depending on your origins, some slang words used are crapper, latrine, throne, john, privy, head, potty, can, and loo.

How many people, especially us women, ever thought about the replacing your bathroom toilet? I 'd say not many. The fact is, we never give it a second thought as long as it doesn't have any issues.

Most American toilets have been in use for over twenty years. Whenever someone pushes down on the handle, it can flush more than 5 gallons of rusted water slowly down the old waste pipe.

Yes, I said rusted. It comes from the old metal bolts that are located in the tank that attaches to the bowl of the porcelain bottom of the john. I prefer to call it a john and this is my story.

Tired old Toilet


My lessons begin

One evening I walked into the bathroom and promptly stepped into a puddle on the floor around the toilet. I knelt down and felt all around the floor, then opened the lid for a look-see. I put a few plastic containers under the tank and plopping sounds confirmed my suspicions; the leakage was coming from one of these bolts.

Previously I noticed that the water in the tank was a brackish brown and I didn't want to touch it. But because the “inners” or mechanical parts that did the actual flushing had worn out, I had to change them. As a matter of fact, the flushing parts had to be changed about three times in the past ten years and I now discovered that the water was discolored by the rust. That should have been my first clue.

Before replacing the bolts, I had to shut off the water intake valve or shut-off valve, below the toilet.

My water pipe came up through the floor, from under the house. Oh no, it isn't shutting off the water; Crap! The damn valve is shot! Another repair in the making. It'll have to wait till I do some research.

I routinely turn to the video you-tubes and other online how-tos whenever I am faced with a repair around the house. After viewing a number of professional and amateur videos on these repair jobs, I made my list and headed to the hardware store. It's always a good idea to ask store workers questions to get some ideas and learn shortcuts.

Replacing shut off valve

Required parts and steps

My list included many common parts that can be found in most hardware and big home good stores.

  • a hacksaw to cut the rusted bolts (the screwdriver and wrench wouldn't budge the washer at all)
  • a tank bolt replacement kit consisting of three long brass screws and metal and rubber washers
  • along with a rubber gasket to connect to the tank bottom drain hole.
  • a new water valve shut-off replacement kit was necessary.

First steps

Scroll to Continue

When I returned home with all the necessary parts and advice, the first thing to do was to shut off the main water supply to the house. Next, the toilet had to be flushed to drain as much of it from the bowl and the tank. The remaining water in the tank was mopped up with a towel and sponge. So far so good.

I sat on the floor and started to saw and saw and saw the long screw between the tank and bowl.

After about a half hour, I stopped; the saw blade teeth were gone. With a new blade in place, I then decided to cut the water shut-off valve from the pipe instead to replace it. Using two wrenches, I turned one on top and one on the bottom, in opposite directions, and managed to tighten the new one to the pipe. The previous attempt ended badly with a flooded bathroom as the valve blew off after turning on the water main.

At this point and after a day to think about it, I gave in to the rusted bolts and bought a new toilet at the hardware store. Maybe they should have told me that in the first place; or maybe that was their plan to sell me more stuff ?

I was glad that I have another bathroom and a friend who let me shower at her house. This was a simple job for most plumbers and handymen and they would probably have taken a few hours. As a novice, it turned into a few days of trial and error.

Beginner Tutorial Replace Toilet

Step by step instruction

Steps for replacing my old john with a new one

The new toilet was bright, shiny, white porcelain with a new hard plastic seat. It came in three boxes and surprisingly not too heavy. The old one was off white, tired looking and heavy! Good riddance!

Here's the steps I did so I know any woman can do the same.

  1. Loosen the toilet floor washers from the bolts on the toilet base
  2. unscrew the water line from the valve to the tank bottom
  3. mop up excess water from the waterline
  4. carefully lift up toilet by tipping it forward (you may need help)
  5. have an old blanket and pillow to rest the old toilet on
  6. pull the blanket with the toilet on it, out of the bathroom
  7. prepare the old flange by cleaning it up and check for damage
  8. remove any old wax ring remaining
  9. place new wax ring on bottom of bowl hole or on flange itself
  10. carefully place new toilet basin over new wax ring and upright flange bolts
  11. sit on seat already attached to bowl to insure wax is securely attached
  12. lift tank into place over back basin; align the holes
  13. tighten flange bolts until snug to bottom of toilet base
  14. place brass bolts into tank hole with screw top in tank
  15. tighten washers on bottom of tank until snug
  16. attach old or new flexible water line to cut-off valve and tank outlet until snug

In the middle of a job


Testing the finished replacement

Testing the new bowl

After all these steps were completed and I was sure the bolts were all tight enough, I turned on the water main and then the valve for the tank.

This was the moment of truth. Will it begin to leak again or hold water?

I had to perform this task about three times until everything stopped dripping a little. The new bolts and washers needed more tightening because of a forgotten rubber washer. I took my time when performing this task. The toilet company had picture and or written steps so I read them carefully.

flange-the round piece attached to the top of the waste pipe that attached the bottom of the toilet base

shut-off valve-the metal water valve that is attached to the water pipe and hose bringing water to tank. It has a turn on and off knob

water supply line- a solid plastic or steel flexible tube or hose that connects shut-off valve to tank bottom

wax ring-refers to round wax ring sometimes with plastic flange attached to a flange to provide water seal

tank to bowl kit-a kit made up of rubber round gasket to connect opening of tank bottom to fill toilet bowl and three long bolts with screws to attach tank

Never Too Old to Learn

Lessons learned

Be sure to buy all new parts for the new toilet. Older parts may not fit as well and its nice to start fresh.

Talk to hardware workers in more than one store and get more opinions. Take photos on your cell phone to show them so to avoid mistakes. Yes, a plumber would have been a good option but none were available and they are expensive. Buy a toilet with the working parts already inside the tank. It makes life so much easier.

I learned some valuable lessons as a woman living in her own home and making her own repairs.

First, I should have replaced the toilet sooner when I saw the brown water in the tank the first time. Since I never had a problem with toilet in the past, it never occurred to me to do this job.

I saved a lot of money and this new toilet only uses 1.7 gallons each time it flushes.

To think that I did this all by myself and I am a small woman. I have never done this before and felt so proud of myself. Even with all the mistakes made it did feel good to accomplish this common household repair.

Challenge yourself and learn some new skills.

Women replacing toilet

© 2014 Stacie L


Stacie L (author) on November 30, 2017:

Thanks for the comment Kari.

If I can do it, so can you. :-)

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 26, 2017:

I will be sure to remember this article in case I ever need to replace my toilet. :)

Stacie L (author) on April 16, 2016:

Oh don't be afraid to do it yourself! I promise that if I can replace my toilet, so can you! LOL

Nell Rose from England on April 07, 2016:

Yeah, well done! we have a new toilet too, only I let the plumbers put ours in! lol!

Stacie L (author) on March 18, 2016:

Thanks for take the time to read and comment on my plumbing job Jesse!

as they say, "necessity is the mother of invention"..or DIY if no one else is around.

The Write Life from The United States on March 18, 2016:

Very accurate and very well done. There are many plumbing jobs that can be done yourself and save a ton of money!

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on January 19, 2016:

Very interesting, I don't think I could replace a toilet by myself, body too old to get down and support myself especially the kneeling down to get behind the bowl to the pipes. I would leave it to the plumber.

You did a great job, thanks for sharing.

donald fronczak from lansing mi on January 16, 2016:

wow this was a awesome post there was so much information. if i had to change a toilet this is the article id use as a how to great work!

Stacie L (author) on January 30, 2015:

Thank you for reading my Hub about How any woman can replace the old toilet.

It can be done; don't let this job intimidate you.;-)

peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 29, 2015:

wow, i wish i am a handy woman at home, voted up

Stacie L (author) on August 26, 2014:

Thanks Suzanne for reading my hub on how a woman can replace a toilet.

I have learned to rely on myself to make repairs; sounds like you do also!

it was not fun and thank goodness for youtube tutorials! LOL

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on August 26, 2014:

Very useful hub and voted so! The closest I have come to playing with toilets involved taking off the lid to find out why there was a weird noise. I figured out the problem with the mechanism and sorted it out. I take great pride in being able to fix things myself, from getting lawnmowers started to repairing my PC. I'm bookmarking this toilet hub because I might need it one day!

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