How do I get a toilet installed?
August 13, 2019 10:29 AM   Subscribe

I want to replace my toilet but there have been some obstacles...

I want to replace my regular toilet, which sometimes falls short in the flushing-power department, with a high-pressure more reliable toilet. I am the apartment owner so that part isn't a problem. I already had this done in my other bathroom years ago. My plumber chose the toilet and installed it, no problem. However, when I told him (rather large company) that I wanted another toilet like it, in the other bathroom, he said "sure" and then never called me back. I called again and was told that the super-duper toilet wasn't in stock but they'll call me when it was. They never called. I called again etc. I have given up with this plumber.

However -- I still want that kind of toilet. So now I'm researching toilets, and I seem to wat a "pressure assisted" toilet, but I'm not sure which one to get (there are several American Standard ones and some Toto ones. I can't find information on my current high-pressure toilet except that it says "American Standard," but I can't find a model number.

So, here are my sub-questions:

(a) What if a new toilet I purchase doesn't fit my space? How do I find out if it does or not? I would not want to have to re-tile any part of my bathroom floor, because I made a huge effort to get the tiles and I don't know if I'd be able to match them, and

(b) Do I just call the plumber of my choice and ask them to come and install this new toilet?


(c) Any specific recommendations for a HIGH PRESSURE toilet?

Thank you.
posted by DMelanogaster to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Can you be a bit more specific about what your concern is about fitting the space? In general yes you can just call a plumber and have them pop it in. I'm a big fan of Toto personally!
posted by karbonokapi at 10:39 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]

My concern is just that toilets are all different and if the foot is smaller than the one I have now there won't be tile there. Are all toilets exactly the same shape on the bottom (footprint)?

Also are all toilet mechanisms the same? You can just buy a toilet and it'll work with existing plumbing? I'm looking at this Kohler now, looks good? Is pressure-assisted enough?
posted by DMelanogaster at 10:45 AM on August 13

Was your old toilet removed, and then replaced, when you had the floor tiled? If so, the tiling runs under the base of the toilet so a different footprint shouldn't make any difference. And any plumber (or handyman) can easily install a new toilet.
posted by DrGail at 10:50 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]

Mostly they're pretty standard and can just be swapped in. One dimension that could vary is the "rough-in size", which is the distance from the wall to the drainpipe - in most bathrooms it's 12" but sometimes it's 10" or 14", especially in an older house (learned from experience!). This page has instructions for measuring.
posted by songs about trains at 11:00 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]

Any good tile installer removed the toilet to tile the floor. A different footprint shouldn’t matter. You should be able to confirm just by looking at the base of your current toilet - does the tile go under it?
posted by amro at 11:16 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]

Some plumbers can use what is called an "offset valve" when rough-in distances do not match, but it is easy to measure and you generally want to match this to the toilet for best results.

In addition to measuring the "rough-in" distance, which should match the toilet you pick (within a quarter-inch or so), you want to make sure the water valve is far enough away that there is space enough for the toilet to fit to the back of the wall.

Each manufacturer will have a specification sheet available from its website for the model you're interested in, which specifies minimum distances for this, and other criteria.

For example, here is a specification sheet for one that I put in my bathroom last month. There is a diagram at the bottom of the second page which shows the position of the water valve, and a minimum recommended distance between it and the middle of the unit (6"). You want this distance or greater for whatever you choose.

The specification sheet will also show the floor and wall profiles of the unit. This should give you an idea if there may be issues with fit over existing tiling (and if there are issues vertically, if you have anything above the current unit, like shelving or cabinetry).

It would be unusual to not tile up to the drain outlet, though, so I don't imagine this should be an issue. If the tile goes under the toilet, as another answer has mentioned, you should be able to swap out the existing unit and it should look pretty decent. The plumber should be able to clean up any old silicone caulking very easily, if present, so that it looks clean and neat.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:25 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]

So.. a few different options here.

You could just replace the valve mechanism (the part inside the tank that regulates the waterflow and flush), if it's just the flushing-ness that is bothering you.

Otherwise, there are two main toilet profiles; extended and standard. Standard is round. Extended is "longer" - so it has a profile where the bowl portion extends further form the wall. Which you need to be wary if your door is right by the toilet.

In both styles, there are low, medium, and high seating profiles (so shorter/longer legs, and/or ADA-standard heights).

You also have two-piece and one-piece (so the water tank is part of the bowl, or is attached via a valve connector)

None of these things affect the bowl attaching to the floor.

There are a number of flange options (wax seals versus rubber seals.. I've used the rubber seals will no issues). Depending on if the flange is flush to the floor or not, you may need the flange extender.. again, not a huge issue.

For the shape/footprint at the bottom.. you can't always tell if the builder went tight with the tile or not. But generally, you shouldn't have a problem. If you are going to replace the toilet, though, just take out the old toilet first and then you'll have all the info you need in case there is something odd about the flooring.

So, remove first, then pick a replacement based on the now known variables.

But, investigate the cheaper option of just replacing the flush mechanism first, unless you just don't like the 'look' of your current toilet.
posted by rich at 11:49 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]

These are all good answers. I've installed 4 American Standard toilets that are super-flushy, and have been very happy with the mechanisms in the tank. The little chain that connects the handle/lever to the flapper valve has a tendency to break, but it's easy enough to fix when it does. Nice upgrade: the quiet-close lid for no more noisy slamming.

What I'll add is that if you're in the US and have a big-box DIY store near by, installation services are available on these sorts of things. You buy the toilet, they sub it out to a plumber to come put it in, and the store stands behind the install.

By the by, toilets are not terribly difficult to install on your own, though schlepping the bowl out of the bathroom is easier with two folks and, of course, tight spaces can complicate anything. You're making one connection to the wax ring on the waste pipe and another to the cold water supply line, no specialized tools needed.
posted by jquinby at 12:14 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

Toto makes a great toilet. Two plumbers I know recommended Toto and, so, I had one put in and I think I could flush a size 12 tennis shoe down it. Well, maybe size 8, woman's.
posted by bz at 2:42 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

bz:model, please? also for some of the models, some people are posting that it's not plungeable because of its structure.
posted by DMelanogaster at 4:00 PM on August 13

I have the Toto Entrada. It also comes in an elongated bowl model. I have had to plunge it once in the four years that I have owned it and the normal plunger did fine. I would install it again in a heartbeat.

You might find the water volume testing and info at MaP helpful: They have a database where you can see their flush test results.
posted by purple_bird at 4:07 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

When I replaced a toilet a couple of years ago (it's a really easy DIY project) every toilet at Home Depot had a flush power rating, 1-5 IIRC. I bought a 5 and it delivered on the power.
posted by COD at 5:30 PM on August 13

The database offered by purple_bird has rocked my world. However, there are SO many toilets, even just gravity-powered ones, that score over 1000, I don't know how you would decide. I'm also now VERY confused about what toilet I have downstairs, that makes SO MUCH NOISE it's a nightmare to flush it in the middle of the night --- that was the one the plumber brought in because we were having backup problems. VERY confused now about what's powering that one and why it's so noisy.
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:43 PM on August 13

The name was right in front of me all along! It's a Gerber. 1.6 gpf, which seems typical, but here are its guts. Is this what's meant by "pressure assisted"? My god it's so noisy!
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:56 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

DMelanogaster: I will look at the toilet when I get home. I have had it for about 6 years and have never had to plunge it so I am unsure of whether or not it is plungeable but I haven't ever heard of a toilet that wasn't. The plumber who installed it, Terry Love, runs a toilet forum site and discusses Toto as well as other toilets.
posted by bz at 6:23 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]

Water pressure powers it. The black tank with the warning sticker has a air bladder inside. When the toilet is filling after a flush water under municipal pressure collapses the bag and stores a volume of water at municipal system pressure. Then when the toilet is flushed that store of water is released all at once pushed along by the air bladder creating the "pressure assist". The pressure assist is very noisy.

While their are other minor benefits, pressure assisted toilets, IMO, are kind of a hack that was popular when low flush volume toilets first came on the market because of problems with low flush volume toilets. Manufacturers have since figured out how to make regular gravity flush toilets reliable with lower flush volumes. Dual flush gravity toilets are quite reasonably priced now and generally offer the largest water savings. They are what I recommend for anyone looking. (I generally go with whatever dual flush Costco is selling this quarter figuring even if that particular model has problems I can always take it back).

PS: With the right plunger (IE: heavy rubber 2-way with the smaller cone on the bottom that pops out of the upper section) I can't imagine a toilet that isn't plungable
posted by Mitheral at 8:45 PM on August 13

DMelanogaster: Try as I might, I can't find any model designation on my Toto toilet.
posted by bz at 9:23 PM on August 14

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