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American Standard Cadet 3: The Easiest Toilet You’ll Ever Install

American Standard Cadet 3: The Easiest Toilet You’ll Ever Install post image

How much does it cost to replace a toilet?

If you’re paying a good plumber it should be upwards of $300-$400 (which includes the cost of a low price toilet).

Today’s toilets are easy to assemble and require at most one extra tool.

I know this first hand because we just put in a brand new American Standard Cadet 3 at my Sister’s house.

If your old toilet has been removed the new one can be installed in less than an hour.

With that said, I had to make one modification (which I’ll share) to the installation that I believe to be necessary.

Here are the supplies you’ll need:

  • American Standard Cadet 3 (Model 2880.128NT.020) ($139.00)
  • Crescent Wrench ($12.97)
  • Closet Flange Bolts ($3.19)
  • Steel Braided Water Supply Line by BrassCraft (Model B1-20DL F) ($6.24)
The total cost of this installation was $169.40.

After you see how quiet and water efficient the Cadet 3 is you’ll wonder why you didn’t make the switch a little sooner.

I couldn’t believe how darn silent the flush was!

This is perhaps the most thorough tutorial I’ve done. I’ll walk you through the entire process start to finish and by the end you should be a toilet expert.

Let’s get started and you’ll discover how easy this project is to do.

Determine Your Toilet Rough-In Measurement and Shape (Step 1)

Most toilets are bolted to the bathroom floor with closet flange bolts.

These closet flange bolts are typically 12 inches away from the back wall. This 12 inch distance does not include the baseboard.

Measure the distance between the old closet flange bolts and the wall because this will determine the rough-in size of the toilet you need.

This picture admittedly is of the new closet flange bolts and flange.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Measure the rough-in

 

Our rough-in was 12 inches so we went with a toilet that had this dimension. American Standard makes toilets with rough-in measurements of 10 and 14 inches as well.

If you can’t find your size of toilet at Home Depot or Lowes they may be able to special order it. If they can’t I would go to a plumbing supply store and have them help you.

I had to do this for an older house here in Pittsburgh and the guys were awesome to deal with.

My Sister’s bathroom has a 5 ft by 5 ft floor plan. So she decided to go with a round toilet instead of an elongated model.

The rounded style makes the small bathroom feel a bit bigger. Plus, who likes banging their leg off an elongated toilet when trying to turn on the shower at 5:00 am?

Not me ;)

But choose the shape you like best.

 

American Standard Cadet 3 Toilet: Round or Elongated?

 

Installing the American Standard Cadet 3 Toilet Bowl (Step 2)

In this example we replaced the old closet flange with a new one. If your toilet flange is in good shape you can remove the excess wax from the old wax ring and proceed forward.

Make sure you do a thorough inspection of the closet flange to make sure it’s not rusted or broken. If this is the case you’ll have to replace or fix it before moving on with your toilet project.

American Standard provides brass closet flange bolts that come with special lock nuts. The only issue I have with their lock nuts is they cannot be tightened with a wrench.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Closet Flange Bolts and Nuts

 

This is where I made one modification to the instructions and used normal nuts instead. I just did it out of respect for whoever might need to remove the toilet in the future (say 50 years from now when someone else will be cursing my installation procedure).

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Normal Closet Flange Bolts and Nuts

 

Before you insert the closet flange bolts into the flange you need to dry fit the new toilet bowl. Do this by placing the bowl onto the toilet flange on the floor.

The toilet bowl should rest securely on the bathroom floor and not wobble back and forth.

With the bowl on the floor measure the distance from the wall to the holes in its base where the closet bolts will be. This distance is your rough-in measurement.

In our case the measurement was 12 3/8 inches.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Dry Fit the Toilet Bowl to Get the Rough-In Measurement

 

Insert the closet flange bolts into the slots on the toilet flange. Use the rough-in measurement you got from the dry fit Cadet 3 toilet bowl to adjust the distance the bolts are from the wall.

This will ensure your rough-in measurement is correct, in this case 12 3/8 inches.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Insert the Closet Flange Bolts into the Toilet Flange

 

Tighten the bolts with a crescent wrench.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Tighten the Closet Nuts with a Crescent Wrench

 

Dry fit the toilet bowl again on top of the toilet flange and make sure the closet bolts fit through the holes on the bowl base. The Cadet 3 toilet bowl should rest on the floor without rocking back and forth.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Dry Fit the Toilet Bowl One More Time

 

Remove the bowl from the toilet flange.

American Standard provides the wax ring for the Cadet 3 toilet bowl. Place the wax ring on the toilet flange and make sure the black horn goes down into the waste pipe (not up toward the toilet bowl).

It should look like a little pound cake resting on the toilet flange-I love pound cake :)

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Place the Wax Ring on the Toilet Flange

 

Place the American Standard Cadet 3 toilet bowl on the wax ring by lining up the holes in its base with the bolts in the flange.

You’ve got one shot to do this right or you’ll have to get a new wax ring (which isn’t a big deal but a hassle).

Once you’re sure the Cadet 3 bowl is lined up correctly push down on it with increasing pressure. This will smoosh the wax ring and create a water tight seal between the toilet flange & bottom of the bowl.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Place the Toilet Bowl on the Wax Ring

 

Use the supplied plastic nuts to hand tighten the toilet bowl. This is a great invention because many bowls have been cracked by people over tightening the old brass nuts & washers.

I was skeptical that the plastic nuts would hold the bowl in place but they worked great.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Screw the Plastic Nuts onto the Closet Flange Bolts

 

Make sure the bowl doesn’t wobble or move. If it does shift a bit you can hand tighten the plastic nuts just enough to keep it in place.

Now you can place the plastic caps onto the plastic nuts. The cool part about the plastic nuts is that they serve to anchor the caps to the toilet.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Place the Plastic Caps onto the Closet Bolts

 

The bowl installation is COMPLETE!!!

I don’t think that was too bad and as promised you only needed the crescent wrench. High Fives :)

 

Installing the American Standard Cadet 3 Toilet Tank (Step 3)

The neat part about the Cadet 3 is that all the internal parts are already assembled within the tank. Because of this pre-assembly the toilet tank installation is quick and simple.

Place the rubber gasket provided with the tank onto its tailpiece. Some people call the gasket a spud washer. Either way it needs to rest securely on the bottom of the tank.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Place the Gasket onto the Tank Tailpiece

 

Pick the tank up and place it onto the Cadet 3 toilet bowl. American Standard provides a unique tool that helps secure and tighten the toilet tank to the toilet bowl.

You place the nuts that fit onto the tank bolts into this tool. Then put the washers onto the bolts.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Using the Tank Tightening Tool

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Place Washers on the Tank Bolts

 

Use the tool to hand tighten the nuts onto the tank bolts until the tank contacts the front and back of the toilet bowl.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Hand Tighten the Nuts onto the Tank Bolts

 

You can help this process by pushing down on the top of the tank while hand tightening the nuts with the tool.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Tank Nuts

If the front and back of the toilet tank are touching the toilet bowl you’re done and have performed an awesome job. Be careful not to over tighten the toilet tank because this could result in it cracking.

 

Attaching the Toilet Set onto the American Standard Cadet 3 (Step 4)

I actually had more trouble figuring out this step than any of the others because I can be a numb skull at times.

You should first sort the metal washers that come with the toilet seat. There are two different types.

The first type of washer helps the toilet seat adjust forward or backward while resting on the toilet bowl. The second type of washer positions the toilet seat in a neutral position.

 

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Toilet Seat Washers

 

I used the washers that give a neutral position.

Place the rubber gaskets for the toilet seat onto the toilet bowl. These help keep the toilet seat in place.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Toilet Seat Gaskets

 

Then place the toilet seat onto the rubber gaskets and embed the metal washers.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Toilet Seat on Top of Rubber Gaskets

 

Insert the plastic toilet seat bolts through the washers.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Insert the Toilet Seat Bolts

 

Use the hand tool you used to tighten the toilet tank to tighten these bolts. Use the provided toilet seat nuts which are the size of an acorn!!

While holding the toilet seat nut with one hand tighten the plastic bolt with the tool.

I actually placed the extra metal washers between the toilet seat nuts and bowl. But this is unnecessary, I just did it so that if the seat needed to be adjusted forward or backward later on the washers would be available.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Tighten the Toilet Seat Bolts

 

The toilet seat should be good to go.

 

Connect the Water Supply Line to the American Standard Cadet 3 Tank (Step 5)

Connect the water supply line to the shut off valve by hand. Then tighten it one quarter to one half turn using a crescent wrench.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Connect the Water Supply Line

 

Hand tighten the other end of the water supply line onto the toilet tank fill valve tailpiece. Don’t attempt to use a wrench to tighten this end of the supply line as this may cause the connection to actually break and result in a water leak.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Hand Tighten the Water Supply Line onto the Fill Valve Tailpiece

 

Turn the shutoff valve to the on position and check the water supply line for leaks. If you do encounter water dripping (or spraying) from the supply line connections turn the shutoff valve off then tighten the connections one quarter more.

 

Setting the Water Level in the American Standard Cadet 3 Tank (Step 6)

The rule of thumb is to have the water level in the toilet tank be 1 inch below the overflow pipe.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: The Correct Water Level in the Toilet Tank

 

You can adjust the water level up or down by turning the screw on the float cup of the fill valve.

 

American Standard Cadet 3: Adjust the Water Level in the Toilet Tank

 

Lowering the float cup will lower the water level and raising the float cup will raise the water level.

You can flush the toilet and adjust the screw a few times to get the water level correct. This is also a good time to check for any leaks coming from the toilet tank/toilet bowl and the toilet bowl/closet flange connections.

Once the water level is correct and you checked for leaks the toilet installation is done.

Add the lid to the toilet tank and place your Family Handyman magazines on top (LOL) because you’re done with this project.

 

This was the easiest toilet I’ve ever installed and that’s why I wrote the post. Everything went smoothly and the cool part is you can save up to $200 by doing this yourself. How did I get that dollar figure?

A good plumber (at least here in Pittsburgh) will charge you $80-$100 per hour. Even if this installation takes them one hour and five minutes they still have to charge you for the second hour.

So the total labor involved is $160-$200.

You can install this toilet for sure, especially since it doesn’t involve any extra tools except for a crescent wrench.

I created a prior post on how to remove an old toilet and you can click on this link to view it http://www.homerepairtutor.com/toilet-removal-without-water-spills/.

If you have any questions or would like to add a comment please do so. I’d be happy to help in any way.

Make it a great day!

Jeff Patterson

 

 

 

 

P.S. You can . Check it out for additional pictures, tips, and random entertaining stuff.

 

P.P.S. Or, if you prefer Facebook click on this link to follow the Home Repair Tutor page (http://www.facebook.com/homerepairtutor)

 

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16 comments… add one

  • Steve Austin March 24, 2013, 3:43 PM

    Excellent tutorial, Sir.

    The only thing we might add is that if upgrading to this 16.5 inch high toilet from a shorter model, one will need a longer Water Supply Line. Our original 12 inch supply line was too short, and we needed a 16 inch supply line to reach the bottom of the new tank.

    Thank you very much for a great tutorial. It was very helpful for us.

    Cheers from Texas!

    • Jeff Patterson March 24, 2013, 7:03 PM

      Thanks Steve for your tip, that’s a good one. Really appreciate your support.

      Hope you had a great weekend!!

  • David Armstrong July 28, 2013, 11:06 AM

    Thank you! We had four American Standards installed by Home Depot contract installers last week. They tossed out the instruction manuals and the tool used to get the seat on and off. And one of the toilets would run about every ten minutes. With this tutorial I figured out how to get the seats off for upgrading and how to adjust the float level to keep the water from seeping out the overflow because it was set too high. Bingo to you!

    • Jeff Patterson July 28, 2013, 5:54 PM

      Hi David,

      You made my day and I’m so happy that the tutorial was able to help you out. Any time you have a question shoot me an email (jeff@homerepairtutor.com). Running toilets can cost you a ton of money. One of my rentals had this issue and the water bill was $113 for one month-OUCH!! Good thing you fixed it ASAP.

      Jeff

  • Donna August 18, 2013, 4:56 PM

    I just installed my new Cadet 3 last night just as your post instructs. Problem I am having is toilet is not flushing. It’s like there is not enough water in the tank or something. The water level comes to within millimeters or flowing over the overfill tube. Any suggestions?

    • Jeff Patterson August 18, 2013, 5:33 PM

      Hi Donna,

      Did your old toilet ever have a problem flushing? And do you know if the waste line is vented through your roof? Sometimes older homes’ waste stacks aren’t vented and this creates issues with newer toilets that don’t use a lot of water.

      Also, if you dump a few gallons of water into the toilet bowl does it go down okay? I just want to make sure the toilet is lined up properly over the waste pipe or nothing is clogging the pipe like a rag.

      Jeff

  • Rob Lee October 20, 2013, 12:35 PM

    Very helpful, thanks. The only thing I would add is I had to use some shims to get the toilet level on the floor. I used the composite shims (Home Depot) instead of the usual wood, cut them to size, and a long spirit level to check for level.

    Thanks!

    • Jeff Patterson October 21, 2013, 6:17 AM

      Hey Rob, those are good tips because very rarely is the toilet level. Good use of composite versus wood, thanks for adding your great ideas.

      Jeff

  • Traci November 29, 2013, 5:52 PM

    Trying to unglog a toliet, I think my neice dropped a toy in it

    • Jeff Patterson November 30, 2013, 10:03 AM

      Traci, I’d first use a claw-like device (the actual name is escaping my mind right now) to reach down into the bowl and retrieve it. You can find this in the plumbing section of Lowe’s or Home Depot for a relatively cheap price. If this doesn’t remove the toy you’ll have to remove the toilet bowl from the closet flange.

      This sounds a bit scary but it’s not. Turn the water off at the toilet’s shutoff valve. Flush the toilet until most of the water is removed from the tank. Plunge out most of the water from the bowl or use Oatey’s LiquiLock to gel up the remaining water in the bowl. Remove the two caps on the bowl that hide the nuts, unscrew the nuts, and pick up the bowl from the floor.

      Turn the bowl over and try to remove the toy from the underside. It’s likely stuck in the bowl’s internal trap that is u-shaped.

      You’ll definitely save yourself about $100 buy DIYing this repair. Let me know if you have any questions.

      Jeff

  • Benny December 23, 2013, 6:58 AM

    I tried your baking soda and vinegar and rain X 2 on my shower door. Perfect results. Thanks you so much peace.

    • Jeff Patterson December 23, 2013, 12:15 PM

      Awesome Benny!!

      I bet the Rain-X will keep your doors looking great for months. Keep me posted.

  • Ann-Marie December 27, 2013, 8:13 PM

    Thank you so much for the instructions and pictures! I had to fix a rocking American Standard Retrospect toilet, and thanks to your shopping list, directions we did ourselves – yeah!

    I do however have a question – when my toilet was originally installed, the plumber did not screw the flange to the floor like in picture 5. i found this out today as I took it off the flange and wax seal. Was this an oversight? Also you do not mention screwing in the flange, but I can see it in this picture, so that’s what I did.

    At the renovation store there were 2 kinds of wax seals: with/without a black horn. The one with the black horn, as you suggested above, is recommended and in my renovation store is with the toilets and not the plumbing items.

    Thanks once again – so empowered to do more plumbing if ever needed again.

    • Jeff Patterson December 29, 2013, 8:21 AM

      Way to go Ann-Marie!!!

      Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m sure you can do more plumbing if need be. Isn’t awesome to learn something new, especially when it saves money.

      Closet flanges should be attached to either flooring. That’s why the flange has holes for screws. Sometimes I think people are hesitant to do it. In this example I had to drill through the porcelain tile that we just installed.

      This is a bit tricky and requires a hammer drill with the right bit to ensure the tile won’t be broken.

      I do recommend attaching the closet flange bolts to the closet flange with nuts. It secures the bolts in place so that the toilet is easier to install.

      You did a great job Ann-Marie. You should be proud of yourself :D

  • Jay U September 8, 2014, 5:29 PM

    Hi Jeff, loved your step by step approach with pictures and text instructions on the pictures too.

    I’m having a toilet repair issue I’m hoping you can help with. My toilet’s tank stopped filling with water and, after manually pouring water in and successfully flushing, I realized the flapper was not sealing completely too. I bought a Fluidmaster Fill Valve and Flapper replacement, but am stuck at one step of the repair.

    When turning the water supply back on with the new fill valve in place, there’s a significant leak at the connection outside the tank, the tank doesn’t fill at all, and tightening/loosening hasn’t worked. I spoke with Home Depot and they didn’t have any miracle troubleshooting ideas, at least none I could try on my own.

    What are the chances it’s the water supply hose? Water pressure? I’d really like to avoid the cost of a plumber (and maintain my pride at fixing my toilet!) but I’m at my wit’s end. Thanks for any suggestions!

    • Jeff Patterson September 15, 2014, 7:50 PM

      Jay, I’d say you should replace the supply line. Take the old one to the store and get a steel braided version. Over tightening the supply line at the fill valve will create a leak.

      Tighten the supply line by hand then tighten it 1/4 to 1/2 turn with channel locks.

      You can check the water pressure using a water pressure gauge. They’re about $10 at the Depot. The water pressure should be 60-80 psi. Anything ore than 90 psi is high. But I doubt that would cause your leak.

      Feel free to send me pics or a video.

      Hope this helps

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