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 (get the correct rough-in)
- Crescent Wrench
- Closet Flange Bolts
- Steel Braided Water Supply Line
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Tighten the bolts 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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Use the tool to hand tighten the nuts onto the tank bolts until the tank contacts the front and back of the toilet bowl.
You can help this process by pushing down on the top of the tank while hand tightening the nuts with the tool.
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.
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.
Then place the toilet seat onto the rubber gaskets and embed the metal washers.
Insert the plastic toilet seat bolts through the washers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can adjust the water level up or down by turning the screw on the float cup of the fill valve.
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.
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Have a great day,