Thursday, January 1, 2015

How to remove, recondition and re-install a toilet

     The problem appeared as discoloration in the sheet vinyl flooring around the toilet. Taking a peek under the flooring revealed a nasty, wet, rotted mess. The wax seal under the toilet had been leaking, probably for a long time. This article will detail the steps involved in removing, rebuilding and reinstalling the toilet. To recondition the toilet I will use the Korky complete overhaul kit 4010 and two Harvey's "No-Seep No.10" wax bowl gasket.  Here is a link to the flooring repair post

.                                               The Job at a glance

  • Safety: waterproof gloves, dust mask (optional) 
  • Tools: shop wet vac, 1/2" wrench, screwdriver, level, ruler, a saw may be necessary
  •  Parts and materials: Korky overhaul kit 4010, two Harvey's "No-Seep No.10" wax bowl gasket, several 2x4s, cleaning supplies.
  •  Cost of parts and materials: overhaul kits $22 
  •  Plumber cost for the job: $150 
  •  Home mechanic estimated time: 1-2 hours   

Removing the toilet

1) Turn off the incoming water with the shut-off valve

2) Disconnect the water line from the tank

3) Flush the toilet repeatedly to get out as much water as possible.

4) Remove the rest of the water from the toilet and tank. A Shop-Vac works good for this.

5) Unbolt the toilet from the floor mounts with a ½” wrench.

6) Lift the toilet and get it out of the way. It’s good to have a piece of disposable unwanted material such as cardboard to place the toilet on.

Reconditioning the toilet with a new flush and fill valve and hardware

1) Remove the nut holding the water inlet to the tank. Remove the fill valve. Disconnect or cut the piece of tubing running between the fill and flush valves.

2) Remove the two bolts and nuts holding the tank to the bowl. Usually a flat blade screwdriver and a ½ inch socket or wrench will do the job. If it’s seized on from years underwater, it may have to be cut off. Mine was seized. This could be done with hand saw, but there was room for a reciprocating (Sawzall) saw to fit in between the tank and bowl. I cut off the rusty bolts. After cutting the first bolt, I installed a temporary nut and bolt to prevent the tank from falling off when the second bolt was cut off.

Using a reciprocating saw to cut the tank to bowl bolts

3) The tank can separated and set down to work on. Turn it upside down and remove the old flush valve by turning off a large plastic nut holding the valve to the tank. This may require a pipe wrench or a large channel-lock pliers.

4) Thoroughly clean all surfaces where the tank sits on the bowl.

5) Install the flush valve into the 2 inch tank drain and secure with the large holding nut. Orient it so that the flap side of the rubber flush valve is pointing toward the flush lever. There is another thin fiber washer that goes on the underside of the tank, under the nut. If your tank drain hole is a bit bigger than the flush kit as mine was (2 ½”) take care to center it in the tank drain hole. I called Korky to verify that this kit would be OK on this Eljer toilet. They said it should be fine. Turn the nut on hand tight.

6) Set the height of the top of the flush valve. It needs to be one inch below the bottom of the handle to prevent a nasty overflow if the fill valve should fail to stop filling. It has a locking nut on it that can be loosened to adjust the height and then tightened when it is set.

7) Fit the sponge gasket over the nut. It is molded to fit exactly over the corners of the nut.

8) Set the tank on the bowl.

9) Prepare the bolts by placing the rubber washer all the way up under the bolt head.

10) Install the tank to bowl bolts. Insert both bolts and alternately tighten by hand. Place a level on the top of the bowl cover. Then get out your ½” deep well socket and tighten alternately until satisfied that the center seal is depressed into working position. DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN. This isn’t a high pressure connection and over tightening can crack the tank or bowl.

11) Install the small piece of hose that goes between the fill and flush valve onto the fill valve. It will fit tightly over small molded tube protruding from the fill valve.

12) Install the fill valve by turning the nut underneath hand tight. This nut is conveniently marked “this side up.”

13 Set the height of the fill valve. Use a straight edge to align the bottom of the white part of the valve with the top of the flush valve. Again, turn counterclockwise to loosen the adjusting tube and clockwise to tighten when done.

Setting the height of the fill valve

14) Install the other end of the tube into the top of the flush valve. It may need to be trimmed if it is too long.

15) Install the chain to the flush lever with just a little slack.

Installing the toilet with a new floor seal

1) Have the reconditioned and assembled toilet near the floor drain pipe.

2) Place the new flange bolts in position on the floor flange.

3) Place the nylon holding washers on the bolts. This holds them upright for ease of positioning.

4) Place the new wax seal on the horn of the toilet. Two seals are always better than one!

5) Set the toilet on a couple of 2x4s on the floor to ease in positioning the toilet over the flange bolts (optional). Align the toilet over the bolts.

7) Have a helper slip the 2x4s out as you lift the toilet slightly.

8) Set the toilet down over the bolts. Using your weight on the toilet, rock the toilet slightly to work the wax into sealing position around the horn of the toilet.

9) Align evenly with the wall behind.

10) Bolt the toilet down with the bowl bolts and washers. Do not over tighten! Once the bowl makes contact with the floor apply a modest amount of torque.

Finishing and testing

1) Hook the incoming water line back up to the bowl. Hand tight only.

2) Turn on the shut off valve.

3) Flush and test, looking for leaks.

4) Put the toilet back into use.



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