Are you planning to replace your toilet? Maybe you are updating the bathroom and want a new toilet color to match your new paint or wallpaper.
Some plumbing tasks seem simple enough, just follow the steps. Until a hidden problem is revealed. Or, you discover that you’ve bought the wrong parts.
For older homes, you may not know what challenges exist until you start removing the toilet. It may be helpful to know what’s hiding before you buy a bunch of toilet parts.
Here are some simple buying tips when replacing a toilet.
Replacing a Toilet in an Older Home
The age of house is important to know because older homes may have problems with piping and drainage systems. Know the length and slope of the drain – and purchase a toilet that flushes adequately for that.
Know how your connections work together, especially if you have more than one bathroom. Any house will have a main drain, and a main vent that lets gasses escape out through the roof. Multiple toilets will have connecting vents and drains to that main system, allowing for many points for blockage to occur.
Newer construction homes have a main drain line that pushes waste straight out the home, to the sewer line. Older homes often had a house trap (or a “rat trap”) that has a U-shaped curve in it that adds resistance to the flow. If you have a drainage problem, it will be important to know the location of any house traps.
Modern toilets usually have a more forceful flush, pushing water through the system faster than older pipes can adequately drain them, especially if the slope is low or there is a house trap. In older homes, this usually means the waste materials won’t be removed because the water has flushed out too fast, and the slope of pipe is not set correctly for a modern flush.
Toilet flanges (the part that connects the toilet to the floor and sewer drainpipes) could be made from PVC, copper, cast iron, aluminum, stainless steel, or brass. The condition of this flange, and how it is situated in the floor, will determine what replacement part may be needed.
Install the best toilet for your conditions
Did you know there were so many types of toilets available to purchase? Here’s a short list:
Gravity-feed – the most common type simply uses gravity to flush down the waste.
Pressure-assisted toilets have a powerful flushing action but may not be appropriate for older homes with older waste piping. These work by having pressurized air forcing water from the tank into the bowl, flushing the waste down with more force.
Dual-flush toilets are a combination of the two, and helpful if saving water is important to you. These typically have a handle or knob that is labeled for a half-flush or full flush. The half-flush uses the gravity-feed functions to clear liquid waste from the bowl; while the full-flush eliminates waste with a pressure-assisted system.
Double-cyclone toilets are made with two nozzles flushing water along the rim of the bowl, instead of a series of holes around the rim. The nozzles use less water for each flush, but with a greater force.
Other construction choices for toilets
And, then there are the one-piece, two-piece and wall-mounted construction types to consider.
One-piece toilets are often easier to install because everything is made from a single piece of material. There is no gap between the bowl and tank.
Two-piece toilets are most common, and either the tank or the bowl parts can be switched out if problems arise.
Wall-mounted toilets come in two separate pieces, with the toilet bowl hung at optimum height on the wall with a flush plate mounted on the wall somewhere above. The toilet tank is usually hidden within the wall; and a partial wall is often constructed for these.
The shape of the seat may also make a difference for your comfort – round, elongated or compact elongated. Keep in mind that some building codes, or whether your toilet is in a commercial space, will require use of an elongated toilet.
The toilet height will be important for the person using it. The seat installed between 16-18 inches from the floor is a common ADA height range, and popular for those with disabilities or older people who have difficulty sitting and standing. Standard height is 15 inches, and children’s height (often found in day care facilities) is between 10-14 inches.
Choosing a toilet seat is a matter of comfort preference, and you usually need to buy this separately. Common choices here include the material it is made from, whether it is a slow-closing seat, or even a heated toilet seat.
Replacing a toilet may be seem easy enough, until you discover issues with improper sealing or blockage in the waste flow. A qualified plumber like the professionals with Naugle Plumbing and Heating has installed a toilet thousands of times. Rely on that expertise next time you need help in the bathroom replacing your toilet or fixing other drips and leaks.