By Stephan Sardone
For years, remodeling the kitchen was the first in-home project considered. From new appliances to repurposing cabinets to creating an island paradise in the middle of the room, dollars were invested in the kitchen as it morphed into an entertainment center as well. Most real estate experts will tell you that a well-appointed kitchen adds a great deal of value to a home.
Today, bathrooms are becoming the new kitchen. Not for entertaining, but it may be the most overused and under-looked room in the house. While a complete redesign or building a walk-in shower are major remodeling projects, replacing the bathroom commode is an easy and now, a popular project. It can save you money on your water bill, and you don’t have to be flush with cash to do it.
According to a study from the National Kitchen and Bath Association, 64 percent of all respondents said that new low-flow toilets were trending. And they are now as stylish and more functional as ever.
Talking about toilets used to be taboo. TV network executives never wanted people to know they existed. It was Norman Lear’s brilliant comedy “All in the Family” that first acknowledged the toilet’s presence, as Archie Bunker headed up the stairs and minutes later the audience heard a loud flush.
Today’s toilets are quiet, save water and are easy-to-clean and sleek. Consider a toilet that is branded “WaterSense,” which is the EPA’s version of Energy Star.
In a recent interview for REMODLING magazine, American Standard vice president of marketing Kevin McJoynt pointed out that, “Everyone likes clean bathrooms, of course, [and] clean has become a driver in toilet design.”
Replacing an existing toilet is a pretty easy job because the water and waste pipes already exist. Moving a toilet to an entirely new position is best served by a plumbing professional.
Don’t remove the toilet bowl without considering the immediate consequences. Where are you going to put it after you have removed it? Set out old towels or newspapers so that you will have a place to set the old toilet. After that, a trip to the curb for trash pickup or to the dumps (no pun intended) will be necessary for proper disposal.
Turn off the water supply to the toilet. Then flush the toilet several times to remove excess water. You may need a small bucket and ladle to scoop out any water left over.
Dislodge the toilet by removing the caps with a screwdriver and unscrew the nuts with a wrench. Use a utility knife to score the putty between the bowl and the floor. Rock the toilet from side-to-side to free up the bowl. Take a putty knife to remove the old gasket, and stuff the drainpipe with a rag so there is no smell and to prevent sewer gas escaping.
Wax gaskets are much improved for the old days, as they fit securely on the bowl itself. Make sure that the tapered side is facing the floor. No putty is necessary. Set the toilet in place and press down. Tighten the washers and nuts onto the bolts, but use care. You don’t want to crack the porcelain of your new toilet. Place the caps over the bolts.
Now all that is left is setting the new tank into place. Take a level and make sure that the bowl is true. Insert the tank bolts and gently lower the tank into place. Attach and it should fit ideally.
Put the new lid in place. Do not seal it. Connect to water supply, tighten the compression nut and then open the shut-off valve.
Carefully caulk around the base of the bowl. Smooth out with your finger, and wipe off any excess with the rag you earlier remembered to removed from the drainpipe. Turn on the water and admire your work.
Whether you do it yourself or hire a trained professional, replacing your toilet is easy and cost-effective. As water bills tend to increase in the summer, the time is right to change out your commode. So take action. No sitting down on the job.