How To Move a Toilet

Moving a toilet is a project that requires care and planning, but can be managed by a homeowner with some basic plumbing skills. Learning how to remove and reinstall a toilet yourself can save on hiring a professional. With proper preparation and by following key steps, you can achieve a successful toilet move.

Prep Work Before Moving a Toilet

Before you start removing the toilet, there are some preparatory steps to take that will make the process smoother. Advance planning helps avoid potential problems down the road.

Gather Necessary Supplies

You’ll need certain equipment and materials on hand before tackling a DIY toilet move. Having these items prepared ahead of time prevents delays and frustrations during the project:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Channel lock pliers
  • Putty knife
  • Old towels or rags
  • Sponges or buckets
  • New toilet wax ring
  • Rubber gloves
  • Eye protection

Turn Off Water Supply

An important first step is to turn off the water supply to the toilet. Locate the shut-off valve that controls water flow to the toilet tank and turn it clockwise to the OFF position. This valve is usually on the wall behind the toilet or under the tank.

Turning off the water prevents the toilet tank from refilling if the flapper is accidentally lifted during removal. Shutting off the water also reduces leakage or flooding risks while you are working on disconnecting toilet hardware underneath the tank.

Drain Toilet Bowl

Before starting toilet removal, the bowl water must be drained as well. Use a small plastic cup to scoop and dump out remaining water left in the bowl. Place an absorbent towel on the floor around the base of the toilet to soak up any drips or splashes.

If your toilet has a bowl cleaner tablet, remove that as well. Wearing rubber gloves can protect skin from exposure to chemical toilet bowl cleaners.

Disconnect Supply Line

The flexible supply line that runs from the toilet tank to the shut-off valve also needs to be disconnected prior to moving the toilet. Place a bucket underneath the supply line. Using tongue-and-groove pliers or an adjustable wrench, loosen the coupling nut that secures the supply line to the tank. Catch any water that drains out as you detach the line.

Removing an Existing Toilet

Once the preparatory steps are complete, you can move on to lifting the toilet off its mount. Taking the proper precautions will ensure the toilet comes away cleanly for re-installation later.

Remove Tank Lid and Hardware

Start by removing the tank lid and placing it aside in a safe spot where it will not get scratched or cracked. Place any tank accessories like air fresheners, cleaners or float balls in a bag for safekeeping.

Next, detach the flapper chain from the flapper valve and the handle lever. Remove the flapper valve and tank ball or float ball if your toilet has one. Detaching all tank hardware prevents damage and allows easier access.

Disconnect Water Line and Wax Ring

The next step is to disconnect the water line from the fill valve inside the tank. Unscrew the coupling nut holding the line to the fill valve. Have your bucket ready to catch any drips.

Carefully pry off the caps covering the nuts that anchor the toilet bowl to the floor. Use a putty knife to scrape away the old wax seal from around the toilet base. Breaking this watertight seal allows you to lift the toilet.

Remove Toilet Mounting Bolts

With the old wax ring scraped off, you can now access the mounting nuts and bolts that secure the toilet base to the floor flange. Use an adjustable wrench or channel lock pliers to hold the bolt head stationary while loosening the mounting nuts.

Unscrew the nuts completely off the bolts and set aside. The bolts will then release as you lift the toilet, allowing you to pull them up and out through the base holes.

Lift Toilet Straight Up

The toilet is now ready to be lifted off the flange mounts. Take care to lift it straight up without angling or rocking it. This prevents the ceramic base from cracking or breaking as it separates from the wax seal.

Have a partner help support the weight as you pull upwards. If lifting solo, use your legs and keep your back straight as you lift. Move the freed toilet to a cleared space to complete the disconnection process.

Separate Remaining Connections

With the toilet removed to a work area, finish disconnecting any extraneous parts. Unscrew the supply line from the tank valve. Remove the hold-down bolts and caps from the base. Scrape off any remaining wax ring residue or stubborn debris.

Now your toilet is fully detached and prepped for transport to the new installation location. Protect the base with cardboard or a towel to prevent cracks or scratches.

Installing a Toilet in the New Location

Once the old toilet is removed, preparing the new spot and re-installing the toilet there can begin. Follow these steps for smoothly transitioning your toilet:

Prepare Floor Flange Surface

Check that the floor flange at the planned toilet location is clean and level. Remove any putty or debris left from a previous toilet. The flange surface should be smooth and plumb with the floor.

If the flange is damaged or unstable, it may need repair or shimming before installing the toilet. Use flange extenders or shims as needed to create a sound base.

Install New Closet Bolts

Insert new closet bolts into the slotted openings on opposite sides of the floor flange. Slide them down evenly until the threaded ends point up through the bolt holes. The bolt head should fit snugly within its slot.

Position the bolts diagonally from each other for optimal stability. Adjust them evenly so the same length of thread shows above the flange on both bolts.

Apply New Wax Seal

Before setting the toilet, you must install a new wax ring seal. This creates the critical watertight closure between the toilet base and flange. Turn the toilet upside down and position the wax ring centered over the toilet horn.

Press the ring firmly into place so the wax fully contacts the horn surface. The ring should remain attached when you flip the toilet upright.

Lower Toilet Onto Flange

Now you’re ready to set the toilet back in place. With a helper holding one side, carefully lower the toilet squarely over the floor bolts and flange. The wax ring will make contact as the toilet horn slides into the flange opening.

Apply even pressure as you set the toilet so the wax fully adheres and seals around the horn. Check that the base sits flat and steady on the floor.

Reinstall Mounting Bolts and Hardware

From underneath the toilet base, slide the closet mounting bolts up through the holes on either side. Press the bolt heads flush with the base. Hand tighten the washers and nuts back onto the protruding bolt ends.

Using your wrench, tighten each nut evenly and alternately until snug. Avoid over-tightening, which can crack the porcelain base. Reattach all the tank hardware like the flapper, float ball, and flapper chain.

Reconnect Supply Line

You’re in the home stretch now. Connect the supply line back to the tank fill valve and hand tighten until secure. Then connect the line to the shut-off valve, tightening with your adjustable wrench.

Turn on the water supply and allow the tank to fill. Check for any leaks at connections and tighten as needed. Once stabilized, reinstall the tank lid.

Seal Base and Check Operation

Apply a final bead of silicone sealant around the back base where it meets the floor. This provides added protection against leaks. Remove any excess wax.

Finally, do an operational test. Flush several times and check for proper drainage without leaks or clogs. Your toilet move is complete!

FAQs About Moving a Toilet

Moving a toilet brings up many questions for homeowners doing DIY plumbing for the first time. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Is it hard to remove and reinstall a toilet yourself?

While not complicated, it does require some plumbing knowledge and skill. The steps must be done properly to avoid damaging the toilet or causing leaks. Patience and following instructions carefully make a DIY toilet move very doable.

How long does it take to move a toilet?

Altogether it typically takes 2-3 hours: 1 hour removing it, 30 minutes to bring it to the new bathroom, and another hour to reinstall it. Having an extra person helps speed up the process.

Can I lift a toilet by myself?

Lifting a toilet solo is challenging but possible for smaller standard models. Use proper lifting technique – lift with legs bent and back straight. For larger heavy toilets, get help to avoid injury.

How do I transport the toilet to the new location?

Carefully carry the removed toilet upright with a helper. Cushion it with towels or cardboard. For longer distances, lay it on its back supported in a pickup truck or on furniture dolly.

Do I need new bolt caps for installation?

The old bolt caps can usually be reused, but having extras on hand is useful if the old ones get damaged during removal. Match the new caps size and color to the old.

How do I know if the flange needs repair?

Check if the existing flange is cracked, loose, or uneven with the floor. Try rocking the toilet to check for movement. Any instability indicates the flange needs reinforcement.

Can I move a toilet in a downstairs or upstairs?

Yes, toilets can be moved between floors. Use caution when carrying on stairs and have helpers to assist. Remove the tank from the bowl for easier transport on stairs.

How do I cut the toilet supply line?

If the existing supply line doesn’t extend to the new location, you may need to cut it. Measure how much length you need, mark with tape, and cut with a hacksaw. Smooth any burrs before reconnecting.


Moving a toilet to a new location in your home is well within the DIY capabilities of many homeowners. Following proper preparation, safety, and removal techniques allows even first-timers to achieve success. Taking time to gather supplies, disconnect components, and reinstall using new parts can result in an earthquake-proof and leak-free toilet in its new spot. Keep these how-to steps close at hand to smoothly handle a toilet transition and get your bathroom remodeling back on track.