How do I Remove a Toilet?

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  • Written By: Keith Koons
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 13 January 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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To remove a toilet, an adjustable wrench and a few towels are all that is required—an extensive knowledge of plumbing is unnecessary. To begin this project, disconnect the water supply, and then empty both the upper and lower tanks of water. Once that is out of the way, remove the bracing bolts from the bottom of the toilet, and then lift it straight upwards. The average handyman should be able to remove a toilet in about 15 minutes.

Of course, just like in every home improvement project, there are several complications that may occur when you remove a toilet, but most of them are not major setbacks. Perhaps the greatest hindrance is when water damage has weakened the floor—this type of situation can be quite difficult to overcome if the bolts that secure the toilet in place will not turn. If there is any play within the bolts at all, the toilet can be leaned as far to one side as possible to allow just enough room for a hacksaw to cut off the top of the bolt. When this method is not possible, more drastic measures may be required and could mean anything from using brute force to cutting out the flooring beneath the toilet.


Some toilets do not have designated water shut-off valves, so in this situation, the water to the entire property may have to be disabled to properly remove a toilet. On most residential and commercial structures, there is a water main located somewhere outside of the dwelling and it can be turned to the off position with a large screwdriver or a pair of pliers. Also, if another toilet is to be installed after the first one is removed, it makes perfect sense to install a dedicated shut-off valve while the water is turned off. To complete this step, simply splice the incoming water line and snap on the shutoff valve attachment—it is then ready to reconnect to a toilet.

Another common setback when trying to remove a toilet is when the locking bolts are removed, but the toilet somehow remains secured to the floor. On most standard toilets, there are only two locking bolts, though some of the older models were secured by four instead. If this is not the case, firmly grab the toilet and lift upwards. Sometimes the wax ring partially dries and creates a type of vacuum seal around the bottom of the toilet, and the only way to break it free is to forcefully lift it. An alternate way to remove a toilet in this situation is to insert a pry bar underneath one side and apply just enough pressure to break the seal; then it can be lifted out normally.



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