A toilet could need to be removed and closed off for plenty of reasons. In areas of flooding, closing a toilet drain will prevent raw sewage from flooding up and into the toilet. Also, it could be as simple as the toilet becoming no longer needed in a particular area of the house.
Whatever the reason may be, this guide will take you through the steps on how to remove a toilet and close off its drain. I’ll also be giving you some helpful tips and tricks, and some common mistakes to avoid in the process.
Can You Close-Off a Toilet Drain by Yourself?
Working with pipes, especially ones in your bathroom, can be some messy business, and if you’re not careful a mess of epic proportions can occur. Those who are queasy with bad smells may want to shy away from this job. You will be dealing with sewage pipes and those can definitely bring up some bad stenches.
However, this is a relatively simple job that will require some basic tool use and a bit of heavy lifting. Of course, the toilet itself is heavy and if you cannot move something that’s 70 to 100 pounds, you may want to find the help of a plumber or an extra pair of hands.
It is possible to do this job without the help of a plumber though. If you have some experience in working with pipes and you’re good with tools you can certainly do this yourself and save yourself a great deal of money.
How to Remove a Toilet Permanently
Here’s how you can get it done, step by step.
Step 1: Turn the Water Off
Before anything else, you’ll need to cut water flow to the toilet. In most cases, you can shut a valve on the toilet’s supply line so you don’t have to shut down the water to the entire home. This is an extremely important step.
If you do not shut the water off when you remove the toilet, very smelly water will go everywhere, and you will have a much worse task to deal with on your hands.
Once the water is off, flush the toilet as many times as you need to empty the tank out. If any residual water remains inside, mop it out. If the tank is relatively dry, disconnect the supply line using a wrench.
Next, if there’s any water left in the bowl, suck it out with a wet-dry vac or use a sponge to remove the remaining water depending on how willing you are to stick your hands in there.
Once all the water is gone and the bathroom toilet plumbing is completely disconnected, you’re ready to start the physical removal process.
Step 2: Unbolt and Remove the Toilet
Your toilet is bolted to the floor by a few bolts, you should try a wrench to unbolt the toilet at first, but this can be difficult if it’s been in place for years and the bolts have become rusted or stuck in place. If that doesn’t work, you can always hacksaw the bolts apart if you’re getting replacements with the new toilet as well.
When the bolts are out of the way, start rocking the toilet until it comes free of the wax ring on the floor. When the toilet is loose, you can haul it away, and all that’s left is to take the wax ring out of the floor and clean up any mess or residue.
If your toilet allows you to unbolt the tank from the bowl, it will make it easier to carry the pieces away when you’re finished. Toilets can weigh up to 100 pounds, so this can save a ton of back pain if yours is manufactured this way.
Step 3: Measure the Drain Hole
Measure the toilet’s drain hole across the top; almost all drain holes will be either 3 or 4 inches. This measurement is important for determining what size cap or plug you will use.
Use a ruler or tape measure and try to be as precise as you can, for if your cap does not fit, that will be another trip to the hardware store with a cap that will very unlikely be able to be returned.
Step 4: Affix and Tighten the Plug to the Drain
Once you’ve got the right size plug, it is time to put it on the pipe. Most plugs will have a wingnut on them and once it is fastened on the pipe, simply tighten the wing nut.
Finally, cap off the drain with a toilet cover. These are generally made of rubber or the cap is PVC with a rubber skirt. They cap off the drain while the skirt is clamped around the pipe with hose clamps using a screwdriver or small wrench.
Then you’re all finished and should be good to move your old toilet wherever it needs to go, whether it be to a new room or the curb to head to the dump!
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
You certainly want to avoid any mishaps when doing this task, as it can create a mess nobody wants to clean and can stink up your house for a long time. Keep these tips in mind when removing your toilet and capping off the drain.
#1: Don’t Rock the Toilet Too Hard When Removing It
You may shake out some water that remains hidden in the bathroom toilet plumbing, which is not a pleasant outcome. This will stink and will simply add the long task of airing out the smell in the bathroom.
#2: Check Inside the Flange for Threads
In order to figure out if you need a threaded cap, you should check inside the flange. If there are no threads you will need to use a different kind of cap to close off the drain. Most plugs are made of rubber, but others can be wooden and will require you to pound on the top until the plug is fully seated.
Putting in the wrong type of plug will potentially allow sewage vapors to leak out of the pipe, and I shouldn’t have to go into too much detail as to why you do not want this to happen.
#3: Always Have a Pair of Gloves On
The toilet, as well as the pipes you are dealing with, can be slippery and have some fluids on them that you will not want on your hands.
It’s immensely important to have a firm grip on your tools and to keep your hands away from any liquids that can cause skin irritation or worse. Rubber gloves with some form of grip on them will work best for this.
Now you have the knowledge to remove your toilet and close off its drain successfully. It is a job that is absolutely doable by yourself and can save you a nice chunk of money if you avoid hiring a plumber. Follow the steps carefully and make sure you have the right tools for the job and I can imagine this will go without a hitch for you.
Also, be sure to remember the mistakes to avoid, and keep in mind that this can turn from a quick and easy job into a dirty and grueling one.
Best of luck DIYers, and do your best to keep those work pants clean after this one.