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Tanaqui

Risk replacing toilet ourselves, or call in a plumber?

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Toilet is broken, definitely needs non-urgent replacement. I'm capable of handling minor plumbing repairs so long as I can look at the instructions online, and this doesn't appear to be any more difficult than, say, replacing they keyboard on my laptop... but we need a toilet a heck of a lot more than I need a laptop!

So should I risk it or cave now before I even get started? Anybody done this before?

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Do you have to lift the toilet out of place or replace a seal? If you break a flange in the subfloor that is a big deal. I have no problem messing with stuff in the tank, but re-seating a toilet is something I leave to the professionals.

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We have put in all our own and it’s not that hard, they can just get kind of heavy. Replacing wax rings or plumbing fittings and whatnot is pretty darn easy honestly.  And YouTube makes it even easier 👍

Edited by Arctic Mama
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Replace the entire freaking thing. Google didn't suggest that flange breaking is likely to happen, but I'll move that to the top of my list on the cons side.

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It isn't technically hard, but it is heavy. My fairly strong husband ended up with bilateral hernias from lifting our toilet when he replaced the wax seal. (to be fair, he was lifting it while kneeling, so using all the wrong muscles, but still). A plumber would have been cheaper than the surgery he ended up with. 

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My dad and brother always replace their own.  In fact they did a whole remodel of my parent's bathroom a couple years ago by themselves.  Neither of them are plumbers, but are fairly handy with that sort of thing.

Last time we needed to replace a toilet, we planned to do it ourselves, but after we bought the toilet we decided it would just be easier to just hire a plumber.  DH didn't have the time, and I didn't want to try to do it.  I don't think it is a hard thing to do, but it would have taken us a lot longer to do it than it took a plumber and our time is worth something too.

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25 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Do you have to lift the toilet out of place or replace a seal? If you break a flange in the subfloor that is a big deal. I have no problem messing with stuff in the tank, but re-seating a toilet is something I leave to the professionals.

 

Yep, dh broke the flange and other piping. Subfloor had to be torn up, pipes replaced. Would have been cheaper to start with a plumber.

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We always do it ourselves truly the hardest part is how heavy it is. If there is enough there is enough room for two people to work together to lift it its not bad at all.

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I hate plumbing and usually request DH handle it and have called plumbers at times but I did replace a toilet myself and didn't find it particularly hard. DH has replaced multiple but he is pretty handy so I'm not sure he counts.

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A toilet is heavy.  I cannot lift one by myself although I have helped guide them.  Dh has replaced several and lifted others to replace wax rings.    He has also remediated a broken flange.  In his case, the flange was broken at the surface.  Hardware stores carry kits for repairing that sort of break.   A subfloor break would have been much more serious.

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We replaced our own, it was cumbersome and messy but not difficult. We broke the flange so had to replace that too. We were actually able to get it together well enough to use it even with the broken flange for a week or so (we just broke the part that tightens down the toilet, not the pipe itself to the point it leaked). Replacing the flange was not that big of a deal once we had the parts (the nearest Home Depot or Lowe's is 90 minutes away so we had to make a special trip for the parts) but our house is on a crawlspace. I imagine it would be almost impossible to DIY a broken toilet flange in a concrete foundation. 

When we replaced the toilet, we also decided to use a waxless seal. Best. Decision. Ever. Definitely look into waxless seals because in my opinion getting the wax seal seated correctly so it doesn't leak is the hardest part of replacing a toilet.

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I'd be nervous about the seal breaking. I've known some bad plumbing accidents that happened when the toilet broke down the road, though I don't know that DIY made it more likely... I just know it's a particular thing that makes me nervous.

Then again, I'll go nuts with trying to fix the electricity myself but the plumbing is something I'm less experienced with, so that's coloring my vision, I'm sure.

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My dh and boys have replaced ours with no problems. Ds20 just installed our new Toto on his own this past summer (he is very strong, though).

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I replaced a broken flange and seal by myself. I didn’t have to move the toilet far to do it so it wasn’t that bad. If I had to lug the toilet in from delivery or from the store, I might just hire a plumber if I didn’t have help. 

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Ah, Farrar, I wouldn't touch electricity with a ten foot pole! I don't even like changing lightbulbs!

Edited by Tanaqui
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We always DIY toilet issues.  Dh has been known to take the toilet out and put it back in just for the sake of easily painting or wallpapering behind it.

Other than being heavy and bulky, they're pretty straightforward.  Our basement toilet didn't have a shutoff valve when we moved in, so that was the diciest one we've dealt with. We had a plumber install the valve, btw.

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DH tried to replace the seal on an upstairs toilet just days before we moved out of the country. It leaked all over the dining room floor below. Our empty house went on the market with a gaping hole sawed out of the dining room ceiling and fans set up to dry out the subfloor.

I would hire a plumber. 

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Neither DH or I have any repair skills to speak of and yet someone (who was also not a plumber but a bit more handy than us) was able to talk us through it over the phone.  It was surprisingly easy.  Since then I've replaced the wax seal several times (my kids love to climb and fight on the toilets and knock them loose) all by myself.  I think the thing I worry most about is getting it tight without breaking it but I've never had it happen yet.

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So they make these new rubber rings that you can use in place of the wax thing... they're pretty foolproof.  We called in a plumber for a toilet in a bathroom that was so tight we couldn't install it ourselves, and he said he loves them.

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I've replaced six toilets mostly by myself and I'm a small woman.  It's totally doable as long as the flange is intact; a toilet replacement is very simple.  There is a green spongy rubber ring that I highly recommend instead of the wax ring.  I would never pay a plumber to do a toilet.

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Whether I would attempt to do it myself depends on the vintage of the toilet (the last few decades? 1950's or before?) and whether the toilet is installed into a concrete slab.

A relative replaced two vintage toilets recently.  One was installed into a concrete slab.  A plumber was a very good idea.  The original installations were... interesting.  

 

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20 hours ago, Katy said:

So they make these new rubber rings that you can use in place of the wax thing... they're pretty foolproof.  We called in a plumber for a toilet in a bathroom that was so tight we couldn't install it ourselves, and he said he loves them.

 

18 hours ago, solascriptura said:

I've replaced six toilets mostly by myself and I'm a small woman.  It's totally doable as long as the flange is intact; a toilet replacement is very simple.  There is a green spongy rubber ring that I highly recommend instead of the wax ring.  I would never pay a plumber to do a toilet.

Oh good that's what I used when I replaced the seal and flange ring. 

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Replacing toilets is insanely easy. 

One of my very first home owner projects when I was 23 was replacing an ancient pink toilet (with a white one, lol). 🙂 I've probably replaced at least 6 or 10 by now, lol. Truly, super duper easy.

I can't fathom how one could "break" the flange that is in the floor, as they're very sturdy and seem break-proof to me, but if it's messed up, then you'd need a plumber to fix it.

This is one of those home improvement jobs that I highly recommend folks tackle themselves. It's like an hour or so (less if you've done it before, maybe a tiny bit more if you're a newbie) and it saves you bank. A nice quality toilet can be had for $200. The plumber labor would probably be that much in most places. For an HOUR? Nope.  

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21 hours ago, Katy said:

So they make these new rubber rings that you can use in place of the wax thing... they're pretty foolproof.

 

19 hours ago, solascriptura said:

There is a green spongy rubber ring that I highly recommend instead of the wax ring.

 

It's called a waxless toilet ring or a waxless toilet gasket. They really are the best thing ever for toilet repair in my opinion. Anytime I've had to replace the wax seal on a toilet or take the toilet off the floor for any other reason (like the toy that dh's kid cousin flushed down the toilet that was down too far to reach from the top....) I always replace the standard wax seal with a rubber waxless one. Those wax seals are so disguising to me and get everywhere and stick to everything if you aren't careful. And if it shifts or moves even just a little bit and breaks the seal in the wax then you will have nasty toilet bowl water everywhere. Yuck!

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My husband does it on his own and he is not handy at all. Well, he watches youtube videos now. When we were first together, he could not even put together a kit from Target for furniture. OK..he is questionable on IKEA stuff still. BUT, he can install a toilet with no problem.

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Looking up a bunch of videos, that's what, and kludging a solution for the short term. Nothing's happening until this weekend anyway.

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