As a handyman I’ve been called upon to replace a broken toilet many times. I’ve replaced lots of toilets in 30 years as a handyman, and I’m here to tell you that each is unique. You probably wouldn’t think so, unless of course, you’ve had experience with them. What makes each unique?
No Fixed Price Installs
First, consider that it’s probably sitting on floor tile, which is seldom level, which creates an issue during installation. Second, what is the height of the toilet flange relative to the flooring? And lastly, what is the condition of the toilet flange itself? Each issue gives you trouble, making it hard for me to give you a fixed price before the job begins.
When to Replace It
Before that though, we have to determine whether the toilet should be replaced once it’s taken off. And depending on the age of the toilet this can be an easy decision if it’s over 20 years old. And as I have already said, I never take toilet installation for granted.
Got the Call Late Day
A client of mine called me on New Year’s Eve day at 4 PM to tell me he got a drain snake stuck in his toilet, and was there any way I could come and help? I dropped everything and hurried to help. The the people for whom I was doing furniture assembly were understanding. It was another request to replace a broken toilet.
Toilet Was Recessed Into Ceramic Tiles
When I got there I discovered that the toilet was recessed into the ceramic tile floor, in other words, the new tile floor was put down without removing the toilet. Very bad decision!
Now I totally understand, especially with what I just told you, why the tile installer just went around it. That however, was a bad decision for the homeowner. No two toilets have an identical base. So if the toilet ever has to be removed, you now have a tile job on your hands as well. Additionally, the toilet is locked in place with cement, and it’s impossible to remove it with doing damage.
This had the makings of a big problem because it would appear that not only did the toilet need to be replaced but also did the tiles. That, off course, would be a multi-day job and this was a one bathroom house.
Demolish the Toilet?
Too late now to do your bathroom remodel at this time, but hey, you can just reuse your brand new toilet when you do it.
But exactly how to replace a broken toilet that has been set into floor tiles is another matter altogether. But, the first thing that occurred to me was to bust up the toilet base rather than the tiles. And that’s something I’d actually never done before. That went well, and none of the chards fell into the toilet drain, which could have been another big problem.
Installing the New Toilet
Fortunately for us the base of the new toilet he chose was a little bit wider than the one I took out. This would allow it to sit just on the top edge of the tiles. Don’t worry though, I filled the cavity with mortar, so when it dried the toilet wouldn’t tilt. However, the new toilet was a little bit shorter too, which meant I had to replace just one tile in front of it.
Repairing the Tile Floor
Just one tile! I just told him to please avoid stepping on that one tile until morning, if at all possible. I broke up the old tile and cleaned up the old mortar, then cemented down one new tile. We got one tile from Lowe’s and it fit perfectly, and the color wasn’t too bad either. It would be dry in the morning and I proceeded to install the toilet.
If you have to replace a broken toilet after a tile floor was installed around it, you’re in trouble. Never install ceramic tiles without taking the toilet off first and then replacing it when the tilework is done. And, if it’s a one bathroom situation, for whatever reason, plan to do it on your next weeklong vacation. Oh, and that sounds like a good excuse to me!
For more on plumbing repairs, please see my Home Repairs page.