Common Mistakes to Avoid When Installing a Toilet

Installing a toilet may seem like a do-it-yourself job and an opportunity to save, but it rarely is. Many homeowners end up spending more money and time than they would’ve if they’d just called a plumber in the first place. With that in mind, let’s explore the common challenges and how your plumber will help you avoid them the first time around.

Shut-Off Valves

One of the most common mistakes is not shutting off the valve to the toilet. This can be as simple as not turning the handle, but it could also be a failure with the valve. A plumber will inspect the supply line, handle, and valve and replace them as needed. These are all relatively inexpensive parts.

Ignoring Water Efficiency Ratings

Many homeowners do not consider efficiency ratings when choosing their toilets. According to the U.S. EPA, choosing a water conservation toilet will save you at least 20% in water usage. That number can be as high as 60%, depending on your current and new toilet. This is important from the perspective of environmental friendliness, but it affects your wallet, too. Even at a 20% water savings, you’re looking at saving more than $100 a year and more than $2,000 over the life of the toilet.

Toilet Style and Features

There are many toilet styles and features to consider, and a plumber can help you explore those. High efficiency is one option, but there are many more. You may want to consider an integrated bidet, heated seating or a soft-close lid. You should also talk to your plumber about the flush technology. Whether you should opt for a gravity-feed or pressure-assisted toilet often depends on where you live.

Not Measuring the Wall to the Flange

Another common DIY misstep is not accurately measuring between the wall and the flange. In fact, many homeowners don’t realize that manufacturers size toilets in this way. This is what’s called the rough-in or set-out. There are many different sizes, with 10, 12 and 14 inches being the most common. Your plumber will measure this for you and ensure that you choose an appropriately sized toilet. The plumber’s expertise will also make a big difference if the current bathroom installation isn’t precise. This is common in older homes.

The Difference Between Tile and Drywall

It also makes a difference whether you have tile or drywall. Toilets sweat. This isn’t typically a concern with tile walls and flooring. It is a concern with drywall because it can lead to mold. If you do have drywall, it’s important to ensure additional clearance between the toilet and the wall. Your plumber can choose a toilet that provides this additional space or come up with another spacing solution.

Improper Valve Positioning

Another prevalent issue is improper valve positioning. The general guideline, and one enforced by most plumbing codes, is 8 inches off the floor. The valve should also be 8 inches from the center of the flange. If the current valve positioning is incorrect, the recommendation is to move it into the correct spot. This is a relatively easy job for a trained plumber but a difficult one for a homeowner.

Not Leveling the Toilet

It’s very important to level a toilet. Rocking from side to side is obviously unwanted, but even minor leveling issues can cause big problems over time. It can result in leaks or even stress fractures in the ceramic. In older homes, you may have a situation where the floor itself is uneven. This absolutely requires a plumber because a professional will need to install shims. How many shims are necessary to keep it stable from side to side and from back to front varies from installation to installation.

Using a Bad Flange

Many homeowners will simply reuse the existing flange. While this can make the job easier, it is often a mistake and one that will likely cause issues down the line. You definitely don’t want to reuse a flange that is chipped, cracked or rotted. Many experts recommend replacing the flange regardless of its condition. While toilets do come with the bolts needed to secure the flange, they generally do not come with the flange itself. This is another reason to hire a plumber. Your plumber will upgrade your flange based on modern plumbing code.

Not Ensuring a Good Seal

Creating a seal between the toilet and the flange is an area where it’s easy to make a mistake. A plumber will often have to build up the flange with additional extension rings. Most DIYers will skip this step and not even realize it’s necessary.  It’s important that the flange bolts are straight and tight. Then, the plumber will ensure a good seal between the toilet, gasket and flange. After bolting the toilet in place, the plumber will put silicone around the entire base.

Overtightening Plumbing Connections

Perhaps the most common mistake DIYers make is overtightening screws and bolts. In some cases, this can lead to the toilet cracking. However, overtightening is a problem in the long term, too. It causes the fittings and seals to become warped with time and eventually fail.

Supply Line Too Short or Too Tight

The toilet supply line should be neither too short nor too long. If it just barely fits, replace it because you run the risk of a leak down the line. Too long is bad because it’s prone to damage and increased water pressure. Most professionals opt for a slight curvature in the line. A single loop is generally all right, but anything more than that is a problem.

Toilet Installation in Etters

If you need a toilet installed in Etters or the surrounding areas, Ready & Able Plumbing, Heating & Air is the company to trust. We offer a full range of residential plumbing services, including water treatment. As a local HVAC provider, we also install, replace, maintain, and repair all manner of heating and cooling systems.

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