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Building Skills

Building Skills

How to Install a New Toilet

comments (14) July 2nd, 2013 in Blogs

Video Length: 7:55
Produced by: Andy Engel, Patrick McCombe, and Rob Wotzak

Installing a toilet seems pretty straightforward, but like any construction task, the pros have tricks to make the job go faster and easier. In this episode of Building Skills, we turn to master plumber Mike Lombardi for his tips for installing a toilet that won't leak, rock, or rust.

In this video, plumber Mike Lombardi will:

  • Inspect the new toilet for damage
  • Test fit the toilet bowl
  • Level and shim the bowl with rubber packing
  • Set the wax ring and fasten the bowl to the flange
  • Fasten the tank to the bowl
  • Seal the bowl to the floor with clear caulk
  • Connect the water hose to the toilet
  • Install the seat

posted in: Blogs, plumbing

Comments (14)

faucetmixer faucetmixer writes: install toilet
Posted: 2:35 am on June 26th

DMContractor DMContractor writes: My opinion the rubber is not a good idea it rots and is still flexible. Also when you trim the rubber after installation what happens when a customer has linoleum flooring how do you prevent the knife from cutting the floor. I prefer plastic shims, they don't rot and are firm. I also use an extra set of closet bolts and washers to hold closet bolts in place. I also like to use plain wax rings, since some of the new toilets have a shallower bottom the ones with plastic inserts/reducers (used in the video) can push through the wax and seat against the bottom of the toilet thus no wax seal. Every inspected job I have done it was required to seal base with caulk. have used dap kitchen/ bath caulk for over 40 years,I have never seen it turn yellow.
Posted: 5:04 pm on July 24th

user-1116010 user-1116010 writes: Thanks to all for your comments, sharing ideas always results in the opportunity for learning. I fully believe that a properly prepped floor and flange connection will result in a toilet install that will never leak. Sealing the toilets contact point at the floor is an important part of a plumbers main responsibility; to provide sanitation. We very carefully design & install sanitary DWV systems that protect health, caulking or sealing the base of all plumbing fixtures is a code requirement that helps maintain sanitary conditions. The most common mistakes I see with toilet installs include: stacked gaskets, below grade closet flanges, unsealed / exsposed wood, uneven / porous flooring, and unchecked condensation. A wax gasket should NEVER touch water unless there is a back up or blockage below the toilet horn, & a single wax gasket, installed on a properly anchored flange, can withstand the 1/2 lb of pressure exerted by an over flowing bowl. The value of caulking / sealing the base of any plumbing fixture is to prevent soiled water from wicking into those tight spaces & festering into nasty germs.
Posted: 9:16 am on July 16th

SoCalPlumbr SoCalPlumbr writes: Never use wood shims. And I don't like the square little toilet wedges most places carry.

I recommend JOHNNY SHIMS. They're made just for toilets. I think they're made by EZ-Shim. They have little cradles that keep them in place.
Posted: 12:07 pm on July 14th

user-1137422 user-1137422 writes: I don't like adding caulk. One, it won't allow leaks through and even if you leave a few spots open in the back, the leak could take a while to make it there. And who looks at the back of their toilet for water anyway. Two, the caulk will inevitably turn a rotten yellow/brown color, especially if there are more boys in the house than girls. I also don't like the use of full turn water valves. Quarter turns work better, quicker and look nicer. I wasn't aware of the rubber gasket materiel. Could be a nice alternative to plastic wedges.
Posted: 2:13 pm on July 10th

patrick_mccombe patrick_mccombe writes: Hi MikeWise,

I have a 2006 and 2009 IRC here at my desk.

It's in section P2705.1 General

3. Where fixtures come in contact with walls and floors, the contact area shall be watertight.

Maybe others will weigh in with section numbers for 2012 and the Plumbing Code.
Posted: 9:00 am on July 10th

MikeWise MikeWise writes: Please cite the code specifically that states one must caulk (or seal) the bowl to the floor. Not all inspectors and plumbers agree the bowl must be sealed and I have had inspectors FAIL a final because of the bowl being sealed. I like the idea of the "weep hole" being left if the bowl is sealed, however. Nice job on the video. Thanks, Mike

ps: I would LOVE to see a video demo of vinyl shower pan installation with particular attention being paid to outside corners, curbs and built-in seats. Please include the tile setters on this too. I want to see how tile backers are attached securely.
Posted: 8:35 am on July 10th

cussnu2 cussnu2 writes: This won't work with a new toilet but if you are reinstalling a toilet, you can use some of the old wax ring to hold your flange bolts upright. I also concur with the inspection of the toilet but it isn't always foolproof. I had a toilet that showed no visible signs of a crack but it leaked and continued to do so after several removals and reinstalls. In the end, it was an incomplete glazing that was weeping water out of the trap and could only be found by putting food coloring in the bowl and then not using the toilet for a couple of days. You could see the color stain where the water was weeping through the unglazed trap.
Posted: 10:56 am on July 9th

patrick_mccombe patrick_mccombe writes: Thanks for the comments everyone.

The closet bolts Mike uses from Sioux Chief have chunky shoulders that hold them upright without a washer or additional nut. They're very cool. You can see them here by pasting this link in your browser.

Rubber packing is gasket material used for flanged connections like those on some circulator pumps. You can find it at the home center or the plumbing supply house. Wood shims will get moldy in many climates as summertime condensation drips on them and eventually rot.
You can see the packing here.
Not caulking the toilet base is a code violation.

Patrick McCombe
Associate Editor FHB
Posted: 6:48 am on July 9th

Cornelius99 Cornelius99 writes: The caulk on the floor is an effective way to prevent rocking. Some guys leave a gap in this caulk of several inches at the rear of the toilet so that a future leak can be spotted.
Posted: 9:11 pm on July 8th

Lefturner Lefturner writes: Good video however, what is packing? I just use cedar shims. Also never ever caulk toilet to the floor.
Posted: 3:00 pm on July 8th

ktwoodfitter ktwoodfitter writes: Plumber Mike's (video) method above is what would recommend following. The wax seal is also for inhibiting sewer gas from entering the room. Check your local codes first when tackling plumbing, electrical & structural carpentry projects.
Posted: 2:00 pm on July 8th

semar semar writes: we also follow the initial recommendations.
but instead of the waxseal which is always quite messy (installing or removing) we use a waxless connection. This is a small 3" tube glued to the underside of the toilet; the tapered tube fits into the sewerdrainpipe. Clean, fast installation.
We do not seal the bottom of the toilet. IF there is a sealfailure water would be trapped and soaks the underlay. This type of failure is rarely detected in the beginning but is causing a lot of damage that is expensive to fix.
If the toilet leaks and you can see water on your floor around the toilet you can get at it right away.
Same goes if the water is yellow :=)
Posted: 12:26 pm on July 8th

EngrMike EngrMike writes: It is much easier to place the toilet on the flange if the flange bolts are held in place on the flange with a second nut or a plastic clip washer (which is often included in toilet kits). I'm surprised that this was not mentioned.

Posted: 10:36 am on July 8th

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