How to Dismantle a Toilet

What You'll Need
Bucket (to catch any water leaking from tank)
Smaller cup (to bail out the tank as needed)
Rags or towels
Hacksaw or metal grinder
Putty scraper

Dismantling a toilet is not difficult. Whether you want are doing a total bathroom renovation or just want to upgrade your toilet, follow these steps to remove any gravity toilet (the kind that have a tank).

If you intend to reuse the toilet, you will also need:

  • Tank bolt set
  • Gasket
  • Wax Ring
  • Anchor bolts

Step 1 - Turn off the Water Supply

Turnoff valves may be located behind the toilet, bathtub, or under the bathroom sink. If there is no local turnoff valve you may have to turn off water for the riser or the entire house from the basement.

Test whether you have succeeded in turning off the water by flushing the toilet. If the bowl does not refill, you were successful. Use a plunger to try and get as much water as possible through the trap so minimal spilling will occur when you pull up the toilet.

Disconnect the water supply tube from the base of the toilet tank using pliers or your hands.

Step 2 - Remove the Toilet Tank

Remove the lid from the toilet tank and set it aside. Use rags and or a cup to remove any remaining water from the tank. If a layer of water remains in the bottom, place a bucket underneath the tank bolts while you unscew them.

Unscrew the tank bolts which hold the tank to the bowl. These are located underneath the tank on either side. The tank bolt assembly is usually a long threaded bolt, 2 rubber or felt washers (one inside the tank and one underneath) and a wingnut.

You may need to use a hacksaw or metal grinder to cut through the tank bolt if they are very old and corroded. Be careful not to scratch or crack the tank if you want to keep the toilet. Discard the tank bolts and washers. You should not attempt to reuse them.

Pull the tank off the bowl and put aside.

If reusing the toilet, scrape off the gasket between the tank and bowl. This is a soft spongy ring that sits around the mouth where the water from the tank flows into the bowl. Parts of the gasket may stick to the bowl and the tank, so scrape both.

Step 3 - Remove the Bowl

Using pliers, hacksaw or metal grinder, remove the bolts that secure the bowl to the floor. Pull the bowl straight up or you will tip any remaining water through the trap and onto the floor.

If reusing the toilet, turn the bowl over and remove the wax ring and any attached funnel. With the putty knife, scrape any extra wax off the bowl of the toilet.

Remove the anchor bolts from the phlange—the metal or plastic ring in the floor that the toilet was bolted to. Scrape any excess wax off the phlange as well.

After the toilet has been dismantled, examine the phlange for breaks or corrosion. Also make sure the subfloor has no signs of water damage. Either condition will require repair to the floor before the toilet can be reinstalled or replaced.