These directions summarize some supplies and steps we have found helpful when working with sinks. This information is offered for use at your own discretion, and it may or may not be applicable to your specific project. Please consult a professional for more detailed advice regarding your project.


-adjustable wrench
-rubber gloves
-shop vac or sponge and bucket
-towels and rags
-putty knife or anything disposable for scraping
-tape measure
-two brass closet bolts, nuts and washers
-utility knife
-wax ring

  1. Measure the distance from your wall to the closet bolts in the base of the toilet bowl, to make sure they will fit with your replacement toilet
    1. Measure from the bolts to the wall, not to the baseboard
    2. Standard toilet closet bolts are usually 12” from the wall
    3. Older toilets may have four bolts. Just measure from the rear bolts to the wall
    4. If the measurements are not standard, you may have to buy a toilet for a 10” or 14” rough in
  2. Make sure the replacement toilet is ready to be installed when you remove the old one
    1. Is the toilet in good condition? Are there any hairline cracks anywhere?
    2. Assemble the flushing system in the tank prior to installation
    3. As many salvaged toilets are only loosely connected or may come disconnected at some point, it is safer to disconnect the bowl and tank during the installation process
    4. You may also consider cleaning it up at this time, if need be
    5. Remove the tank lid when moving the toilet around, to avoid it falling off and breaking
    6. For conservation, Second Use recommends low-flow, higher-efficiency toilets. Most of the toilets Second Use sells are low-flow
  3. Turn off the water supply to the toilet with the shut-off valve under the toilet tank
  4. With the lid off so you can see inside the tank, flush the toilet to drain the water out of the toilet
    1.  You may have to hold the handle down
  5. Remove the rest of the water from tank and bowl
    1. You can use a shop vac, sponge, disposable cup, towel, bucket, etc.
    2. Wear rubber gloves, to avoid bacteria and germs
  6. Disconnect the water supply from the toilet tank to the wall
    1. Put a towel or bucket underneath, as some water is likely to come out
  7. If the water supply line looks worn or it is made of plastic, this is a good time to replace it. Stainless steel braided lines are the best
  8. If the toilet base is secured to the floor with caulking, use a utility knife to break the seal
  9. Pop off the decorative caps on the base of the toilet and remove any nuts or washers that hold the closet bolts in place
    1. An adjustable wrench should do the trick
    2. If the bolt is in bad shape- for instance, if it is rusty- you may have to saw it off with a hacksaw
  10. Remove the old toilet
    1. Rock it back and forth to release it from the ground before lifting it up
    2. Be sure to set it out of the way so it won’t get knocked over and break
    3. Set it on top of newspaper or a towel to avoid any mess
  11. Inspect the condition of the floor
    1. If the floor is damaged in any way, you may need to fix it before installing your replacement toilet
    2. Check the floor for level. If it is uneven, you may need to even it out
    3. Having a level floor is superior to relying on shims
  12. Put a rag into the hole to block the sewer gases
    1. Do not forget to remove this before installing your replacement toilet!
  13. Remove the remnants of the wax ring
    1. You may use a putty knife or something disposable like a shim or stir stick
    2. Have newspaper or a rag handy because the wax will be sticky
    3. If the old wax ring had a horn, you will also need to replace that piece
  14. Prep the flange to reconnect with the replacement toilet
    1. If the closet bolts are in good shape, you may reuse them
    2. If you had to cut the closet bolts to remove the old toilet, or they are in bad shape, remove them from the flange and insert new ones
    3. If inserting new closet bolts, you may consider using putty or nuts to hold the bolts in place. This will make it much easier when installing the replacement toilet
    4. If the flange is in bad shape- for instance, if it’s broken, bent or cracked- you may need to replace it. This is a more involved process that could mean having to cut your piping
    5. Brass hardware is the best choice for durability
  15. Underneath the base of the replacement toilet, put your wax ring around the hole
    1. The wax-side, rather than the plastic-horn side, should touch the base of the toilet
    2. You may want to warm up the wax ring with a hair dryer, to make it more malleable
    3. If the flange is above the floor, you may consider using two wax rings. You can buy wax rings without the horn, for the purpose of stacking
  16. If you haven’t already, remove the rag from the hole that is blocking sewer gases
    1. Carefully making sure the small bolt holes in the base of the toilet align with the closet bolts that are sticking up, reconnect the base of the toilet and wax ring with the flange and floor
    2. It is very important that everything seats correctly, or your toilet will leak
    3. Make sure the tank is parallel to the wall
    4. Gently press the base of the toilet down to firm up the connection between the floor, toilet base and wax ring
  17. Put the washer and nut on the closet bolts, securing the base of the toilet to the ground
    1. Don’t wrench too much on the nuts, or you will crack the toilet
    2. Alternate from one side to another, to compress the wax ring evenly
    3. Check the toilet bowl for level as you tighten the closet bolts.
    4. If the toilet is not level, you may consider adding shims
  18.  If the closet bolts stand too tall, cut them down with a hacksaw, such that you can put the decorative caps back on top of the bolts
  19. If you took the toilet bowl and tank apart for the installation, reattach the tank to the bowl
  20. Tighten the bolts underneath the tank to secure it, but remember not to over-tighten, or you may crack the toilet
    1. The bolts should have rubber washers. You never want porcelain on porcelain
  21.  Put the lid back on the toilet tank
  22. Reattach the water supply line, and turn it on
  23. Do a test flush to see if there are any leaks
    1. If there are leaks, you may need to tighten some of the hardware. However, remember not to wrench so much that the toilet cracks
  24. Avoid adding caulk between the base of the toilet and the floor. If caulk is in place, you may not learn about a leak until it is too late
    1. If you want to use caulk, don’t put it around the entire base of the toilet. To determine where to put the caulk, check to see if the floor has any slope, and avoid putting caulk in the area where leaking water could potentially gather inside the base of the toilet
  25. A common test to see if you have any leaking between the tank and the toilet bowl is with food coloring. Put several drops of food coloring in the toilet tank, and allow the water to sit for several hours. If the food coloring shows up in the bowl, there is a leak between the tank and bowl, and you should investigate further