Moving a toilet is often necessary with home renovations; either complete remodels or even just minor bathroom fixes can require the toilet to be relocated. However, this process is not exactly as simple as just picking up the toilet and moving to a new spot. So, how difficult is it to relocate a toilet?
Relocating a toilet can be really easy and inexpensive or incredibly difficult and costly, depending on how far you need to move it and what else is involved, such as plumbing and drainage.
If moving a toilet is in your future, or you’re on the fence about whether or not to move the toilet, then keep reading. You’ll find everything you need to know, and more, about what goes into relocating the toilet.
What to Consider When Relocating a Toilet
There are many things to consider before committing to moving the toilet, whether it’s just a few inches or across the bathroom. It’s important to think carefully about each of these things so you don’t end up with a giant mess on your hands.
Plumbing and Drainage
This is the number one thing to consider. If your goal is to move the toilet to a new area that’s less than six inches away, then the move might be fairly simple.
However, moving a toilet more than a few inches should not be attempted by anyone other than a professional. This will require moving the plumbing and creating new lines, which could end in disaster and cost even more money if not done correctly.
The wastewater line is what gets rid of whatever’s being flushed. It’s a vertical pipe under the toilet and can be adapted fairly easily for a short relocation. Using an offset toilet flange can make the move less invasive and allows a little freedom to move the toilet a few inches in any direction.
But an offset flange can lead to cosmetic challenges since moving the toilet will expose the hole where the original was. This can lead to having to patch up the floor or alter the look altogether. An offset flange can also cause a potential roadblock for water leaving the toilet.
The supply line is, of course, the pipe that supplies the water to the toilet. In most cases, the supply line is flexible and comes in different sizes. If you’re lucky, relocating the toilet might be as simple as just installing a longer supply line. This is a relatively inexpensive fix and also doesn’t require a professional. As long as you’re semi-handy and know your way around the hardware store, then it shouldn’t be too difficult to do either of these.
In addition to plumbing that supplies water and removes water from the toilet, you’ll also be dealing with the drainage system. The homes’ main drain is responsible for draining all of the water out of the home, from:
Each one of these connects to the main drain with its own individual branch line. The drainage system connects to the sewage system. Knowing how this runs will be imperative in moving a toilet since reconnecting to the mainline is necessary. There might be a need to reroute some of the original branch lines in moving a toilet or extending or shortening the existing ones. Whatever the case may be, the drain system is going to play an important role.
Moving a Toilet is Physically Difficult
Moving a toilet is cumbersome. They’re heavy and oddly shaped, so they’re hard to pick up. Toilets weigh just under 90 pounds, and there’s no good place to hold them. And, it’s kinda gross. No matter how much you clean the toilet or drain the water, there’s always a chance of finding something unpleasant when you lift up a toilet. There’s no way around it.
Not to mention, toilets are really fairly delicate. If you’ve ever accidentally dropped the back cover of the toilet, you know that the porcelain chips fairly easily. Just imagine the mess that would be left after dropping a full-sized toilet.
A Toilet Move Can Affect Other Elements in the Bathroom
Relocating the toilet can cause a ripple effect, forcing you to have to move other things. It might be the bathtub or the shower, which will cause additional plumbing challenges. Or, maybe it’s something as simple as rearranging some bathroom storage to account for moving the toilet.
If you have other, smaller things in your bathroom that you’re partial to, such as a heated towel rack or something else that might require an outlet, it’s important to consider what will happen to them if they’re displaced.
Mirrors and lighting are also forgotten factors but are of equal importance. Both are pretty important players in a bathroom layout, but you might not realize that until moving the toilet causes you to have to relocate your mirror and light fixtures, only to find they don’t fit in their new spot.
When other things are moved in the bathroom, it can leave an empty spot on the wall or expose unpainted areas or damaged spots that were once covered. Be sure you have extra paint on hand that matches the existing wall color, just in case this situation arises.
What’s Below the Toilet
Relocating a toilet isn’t all about the toilet itself. There’s also a need to get under the toilet, so considering the space underneath is a must. Sometimes, it’s as simple as going in the basement. Having to get under the house through a crawl space or climbing under the house itself can pose more of a challenge, but it doesn’t make it impossible. It’s just something to be aware of, especially if you’re claustrophobic.
If your home is built on a concrete slab, don’t even think about DIYing a major toilet relocation. A minor one can be done, but moving the toilet more than a couple of inches will require a fair amount of demolition, and the water and waste lines will have to be moved.
In addition, these will all have to be rebuilt:
- Concrete foundation
- Additional Fixtures
A major move will naturally increase the job price and add to the timeline of when it will be done. Not to mention, there will be a giant mess to deal with during the renovation and afterward. Make sure you call in a professional in these cases.
Is Relocating the Toilet Expensive?
This is another question that really depends on a few things. If it’s a small, DIY job, you can get away with under $50. If you need to call in a pro, depending on what you’re up against, it could end up costing up to $3,500.So, let’s consider all the things that could potentially affect the cost of toilet relocation.
Hiring a Plumber
Just a slight move is something that can be done by a handy homeowner, like we’ve already established. But, if you’re hoping to make a major move, please, please, please call a reliable plumber.
Check with friends and neighbors to see if anyone has a trusted plumber that they recommend. It can also help to gather a few different estimates. Then choose the one that you think fits the best. And, keep in mind, the least expensive option isn’t always the best. An experienced plumber is necessary and will prevent you from paying more for repairs in the long run.
Again, plumbing is crucial to the function of a toilet. The costliest part of relocating a toilet is when new plumbing has to be done. Moving a toilet or adding a new one can require a full set of new pipes or shifting old ones. And that can get expensive.
But, if moving the toilet has to be done, and it’s a cross-room move, this is just part of the job. If you think that the move will require new plumbing, then make sure to consult with an actual plumber.
With a simple move, an offset flange and a longer flexible supply line are affordable and pretty easy to find. Most times, they’ll only set you back about $20. Additional DIY fees would be any tools that you don’t already have, although borrowing those from a neighbor or friend is always a great option too.
Building Code Violations
This is very rare, but it’s worth noting because building codes, especially in DIY situations, are often unknown. But, in the off chance that a building code is violated, it could cost you big time, financially.
Even though the relocation will be tapping into the existing mainline, you’ll still be using local sewer lines. Consulting with a local codes advisor would be a really great way to avoid any bumps in the road that could derail your progress.
Reasons to Relocate a Toilet
There are plenty of reasons that a toilet might need to be relocated. Whether or not it’s a big enough issue to warrant uprooting the entire thing and moving it is up to you as the homeowner.
- It’s Too Close to the Shower – Ew. Clearly, this is not an ideal location. But, that’s not to say toilets can’t be installed too close to the shower. And, as you can imagine, that might cause an undesirable situation, to say the least.
- Reconfiguring the Bathroom – Sometimes, there are new pieces for your bathroom that you just have to have. And, sometimes, you might get them home, and they don’t exactly fit in your original bathroom. If moving the toilet just a few inches will allow room, then so be it.
- Your Bathroom Needs a Facelift – Bathrooms are a fairly easy place to remodel, and a quick revamp doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg either. If there’s a particular piece to the bathroom design that just won’t work with the current location, then a little move to the side is a great option. Leaving the door open to the possibility of moving the toilet during a renovation is a helpful tool.
- Not Enough Space – There are times when a slight move will free up more bathroom space. If your bathroom is on the smaller side, turning the toilet in a different direction or moving it a bit to the left or right can be the difference in creating a more user-friendly situation.
What it Takes to Move a Toilet
And now we can get into the fun stuff…what it actually takes to move a toilet. Obviously, this isn’t the simplest task. But with a little know-how and determination—and a lot of patience—you can do it!
A toilet relocation isn’t something you should just dive into on a random Saturday afternoon out of boredom. It takes careful consideration and lots of planning. Here are some key things to consider in the plans:
- Where the toilet will go when you initially move it while you’re working on the plumbing
- What surfaces will need to be protected and covered during the process
- All of the tools that are necessary for the move are accounted for
- If there’s a new floor involved, make sure they’re installed first, and then be very careful
- Allow yourself plenty of time, so there’s not any rushing
- Measure, measure, and measure; there’s no such thing as measuring too many times
- Make a list of what you’ll need from the local home improvement store, so you only have to make one run; this will help you avoid any mid-project trips
- Choose a specific day that you’ll be doing this, preferably on a day when you have zero other things to do
Gather Tools and Supplies
Again, making sure you have everything ready before starting is a huge time saver. Identifying anything that’s missing before beginning allows you enough time to find it and have it ready to go. Here are the tools and supplies that you’ll need to have by your side, ready to go:
- Razor Blade
- Slip-joint pliers
- Bolt cutters
- Expanding foam
- Needle nose pliers
- Teflon paste
- Compression ring
- Putty knife
- Offset flange and coupler
- Adjustable wrench
- Reciprocating saw (with wood or demo blade)
- Flexible supply line
- Toilet supply tube
- Wax seal
- One-step PVC cement
Shut Off the Water
When the day arrives, and you’ve gathered all the supplies, you’re ready to start. There’s no turning back now. Locate the shut-off valve and turn it all the way to the right. Do not skip this step; the end result would be catastrophic.
Prep the Toilet
Now you’ll want to bail out as much water from the toilet as you possibly can. This was previously mentioned, but I can’t say it enough. Toilet water is not something you want splashing in your face. Follow these steps, in this exact order:
- Flush the toilet. When the waters’ been turned off, there’s still one flush left in the tank.
- Using the plunger, push excess water through into the drain line.
- The first two steps will eliminate most of the water, but whatever is left can be picked up with a sponge.
Remove Loose Parts
In addition to getting rid of any water, remove the lid from the toilet tank. Dropping or damaging this is messy and costly. It’s best just to take it off and move it separately from the whole toilet. Also, taking the seat off can make the move a little easier. This also might be a good time to go ahead and put a new seat on there, too, since you’re already working on the toilet.
Disconnect the Water Supply Line
Have a bucket handy next to the supply line. Remove the supply line from where it connects to the toilet. Quickly put the bucket underneath; there will be a little bit of water that comes out.
Take Off Bolts
Use the wrench to unscrew both sets of bolts that are located on the sides of the toilet. There are bolts on the bottom of the toilet bowl itself and the bottom of the toilet’s tank. Store the bolts in a safe place where you can easily find them later.
Separate the Tank
After the bolts have been removed, the back of the toilet should come off fairly easily. It will still be heavy, so be very careful and use caution. Removing the tank will make the whole move much easier. Gently put the tank in the location that you designated in your plan earlier.
Move the Bowl
The toilet will be pretty grounded to the floor. There may be caulk that’s holding the toilet in place, in which case you’ll want to get a razor blade to scrape it away. Now you should be able to very gently and very, very carefully rock the toilet bowl to loosen it from the floor.
The tank is no doubt heavy, but the bowl is much heavier. Be prepared; this is the perfect time to really injure your back. Some contractors and plumbers recommend using a tool like one of these to help with the move:
Clean the Drain Hole
Go back to where the toilet was once sitting, and clean around the drain hole. Use a putty knife to get rid of the old wax seal and anything else that’s left behind. Take one of the rags and plug the hole so nothing seeps out, like gases, while you’re finishing the job.
Remove the Flange
Unscrew the screws that are holding the old flange in place and take it out. Throw away the old flange. To cut around the piping and allow the new pipe from the offset flange to fit without having any seams (which will interrupt the flush flow), you’ll have to get under the toilet to cut the pipe. The pipe that remains should be able to be coupled with the offset flange.
Install Offset Flange
Make sure the flange fits in the hole before permanently attaching. The goal is to allow anything flushed from the toilet to go through the flange uninterrupted, or else there might be a backup situation.
Use the reciprocating saw to adapt where the new, offset flange will go, if necessary. Be very careful not to cut away too much. The flange needs to be a tight fit. Apply PVC cement to the pipe itself, as well as the offset flange. Fit the two together with the coupler.
Seal the Flange
There will most likely be space toward the front of the hole where the offset flange is. Don’t panic; this actually means you did a good job. Use expanding foam to fill in the area very carefully. Any excess can be trimmed away with a razor blade. Make sure it’s flat, so the toilet won’t have any issues fitting.
Attach Offset Flange
Anchor the new flange in place with bolts and tighten. Be careful not to overtighten; this can cause issues too.
Put in the New Wax Ring
The wax ring will go on top of the flange, with the waxy side facing you. The short rim of the wax ring should fit in the flange opening.
Put the Toilet Back
You’re in the home stretch! Take the toilet bowl and ever so carefully line up the holes at the base. The offset flange bolts will work almost as a guide and stick up through the bottom of the toilet bowl. Gently lower the toilet until it’s flat on the floor. Replace washers and nuts with the bolts.
Clip the Bolts
The extra-long bolts can be a bit of a hazard, so use bolt cutters to cut them down. Then they’re not protruding and threatening to take you out with every trip to the bathroom.
Add the Tank
Replace the tank on the back of the toilet by lining up the holes. Then, secure it in place with the hardware you saved in a safe place, so you’d know just where to find it when this time came. Being careful not to bang the tank, lower it down onto the bowl. Tighten the bolts by hand, so you’re able to feel when they’re on properly. If they’re too tight, it could crack the tank.
Install Supply Line
Position the supply line to the stop-valve. When it’s in place, use Teflon paste and a compression ring to anchor it. Again, hand-tighten the bolts that will hold the line in place.
If you removed the seat, reattach it to the bowl. This is a great time to give it an extra cleaning if you have any energy left at all. But it really is a lot easier to clean when there’s no seat, so seize the moment if at all possible.
Turn the Water On
Once everything is connected, turn the water back on. Keep a bucket close by, though, just in case something didn’t get attached properly. This bucket could be the difference between some minor troubleshooting and a major mess. Give the tank some time to fill back up with water, and then take the flusher for a spin. Flush the toilet six times. While this is happening, inspect the exterior of the toilet to see if there are any leaks.
Troubleshooting Toilet Issues After a Move
Ta-da! You did it! You successfully removed, moved, and replaced your toilet. Or, at least you thought you did. With every home improvement task or DIY project, there’s always a sizeable risk factor that something will go wrong, or the end result might not be 100%.
But, have no fear. There’s a handful of things that could be preventing the toilet from working correctly. The following are a few of the more common ones reported after a DIY toilet move and installation. Hopefully, it’s one of these options and an easy fix.
If the toilet isn’t sitting perfectly flat on the flange, it could be because the expanding foam went a little crazy. You’ll have to remove the toilet again, but once that’s done, it’s as easy as scraping away the extra foam until it’s really flat this time.
This could be the result of the flange interrupting the flow of things from the toilet. Again, you’ll have to remove the toilet, but then you’ll be able to investigate further and see if the flange is the problem.
Leakage at the Base
If your newly installed toilet is leaking where it’s touching the floor, it’s possible that the bolts just weren’t tightened enough. This is often the case because you’re concerned about not tightening them enough. There’s a fine line between the two.
If this is the case, simply tighten them. Just be extra careful. If any problems persist, then it might be time to call a licensed plumber. When it comes to plumbing, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. A small situation could turn into a disaster in a very short period.
If you’ve just reinstalled the toilet and you notice that it’s refilling much slower after being flushed, more than likely, it’s not getting enough water from the water supply. Double-check to make sure that the supply valve is completely open.