Interior Bathrooms Toilets

Toilet Installation: DIY or Hire a Professional?

It’s time for a new toilet. But when it comes down to toilet installation, are you qualified to do it yourself, or should you hire a professional?
Katie Flannery Avatar
Toilet Installation


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You may be tempted to save money and replace that old toilet yourself. After all, how hard can it be? The truth is that toilet installation involves more than just replacing the old toilet. The average DIYer may not be familiar with the same installation techniques as experienced plumbers. Professional plumbers know how to use spacers, secure the toilet to the drain hole, avoid issues with leaking or flooding, seat the toilet properly, and recognize old polybutylene pipes that are no longer in compliance with current building codes. They will install your new toilet with ease and provide the peace of mind that comes with knowing the toilet was installed correctly. Incorrect toilet installation can lead to plumbing emergencies, leaking, flooding, slow flushing, or an imbalanced toilet. Toilet installation can be a tricky task if you’ve never done it before and lack the tools to do it correctly.

Novice DIYers may be successful with fixing a leaky faucet or a clogged drain but may find themselves in over their heads when they attempt toilet installation. Without the background and understanding of the job, they can do more harm than good and pay more in repairs, not to mention the time without use of the bathroom. Hiring a professional plumber not only guarantees professional service and correct installation, but it provides peace of mind.

Difficulty: Intermediate to expert. Toilet installation requires plumbing knowledge and the right tools for the job. A DIYer who attempts toilet installation needs to have the knowledge and experience on how to troubleshoot any installation problems and avoid potential leaks and damage.

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When to DIY

Toilet Installation When to DIY

If you’re an experienced DIYer with plumbing knowledge and the required tools, installing a toilet yourself may be a great option. Not only will you save money, but you’ll have the satisfaction of completing the toilet installation yourself. Always be aware of potential issues you may face, such as discovering mold, leaks, and old pipes that need to be replaced.

You have completed similar work and have experience in toilet installation.

If you’ve previously installed a toilet, you should have the right tools for the job and know the potential pitfalls. Perfect toilet installation will prevent leaks, slow flushing, sealing issues, and a wobbly toilet. If you have some previous experience with toilet installation but you’re unsure about a few steps, a quick online search should fill you in on some missing information. Be aware that it is difficult to find detailed step-by-step information and good troubleshooting techniques if something goes wrong.

You have enough time to devote to the project.

Toilet installation can be a time-consuming job, from researching what kind of toilet to buy to the final tightening of the water connections. Taking the time to measure the old toilet, gather the needed materials, organize the tools, and carefully complete the project will result in successful toilet installation. It’s recommended to keep an eye out for potential issues that may need professional repair: leaks, floor rot, mold, and pipe replacement.

You have all the tools necessary for toilet installation.

Toilet installation requires specific but common tools that many of us already have in the house. Double-check and make sure you have them handy for a successful installation and to save time. The most common tools needed for toilet installation are: a tape measure, screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, caulk, caulk gun, cordless drill, hacksaw, level, locking pliers, slip joint pliers, rags, utility knife, gloves, and a shop vacuum. Having these tools within easy reach will make the installation go smoothly. There’s some specific equipment needed to install a toilet correctly, including spacers, wax seals, a toilet supply tube, plastic shims, toilet flanges, and more. If you’re not sure what these items are, hiring a plumber may be the way to go.

Toilet Installation When to Hire a Professional

When to Hire a Professional

It’s best to hire a professional if you lack the skill set to complete the job. Toilet installation requires plumbing knowledge and the acquisition of proper tools and equipment. If you install a toilet and don’t have the experienced eye to notice water leaks under the floor or behind walls, pipes that do not comply with building codes, mold growth, and other hazards, the task is best left to a professional. If the toilet needs to be replaced due to water damage on the floor because of leaking pipes or the toilet overflowing, a licensed contractor will know how to remedy those problems.

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There’s a larger remodeling project in the works.

Hiring a professional for toilet installation will help avoid any unforeseen problems that can pop up when remodeling a bathroom. A plumber can help the project stay on track and complete the work quickly and efficiently. A licensed contractor can also acquire permits for a large remodeling project and has the experience to notice any issues with the plumbing or leaking.

You don’t know what kind of toilet to buy.

If you’re not sure what kind of toilet to buy, a professional can advise on water-saving toilets, styles, brands, prices, and more. A plumber may also have access to a more extensive selection of toilets than those available at popular home improvement stores and be able to buy them at a lower price.

There are underlying issues like broken and leaking pipes that need to be addressed.

Professional plumbers are adept at recognizing the signs of broken or leaking pipes that the average DIYer may not. Licensed professionals not only have the experience to fix or replace pipes, but they also have the materials on hand to mend any needed repair. They can permanently repair problems and ensure they don’t occur again.

A professional can spot issues like mold and polybutylene pipes.

Discovering mold after removing a toilet is a sign of a water leak. Treatment for mold around the toilet and under the floor will need professional remediation. Polybutylene pipes were commonly installed in homes between 1978 and 1995. These plastic resin pipes do not comply with modern building codes and have an average life of only 26 years. Hard water will cause pipes to leak and wear out more quickly. It can cause buildup around the fittings and inside the pipes. These pipes will inevitably clog and leak, causing water damage problems and potential mold issues. If a professional plumber finds these pipes while in the process of a toilet installation, they will need to be replaced.

What's lurking in your pipes?
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Mistakes can be costly in the long run.

Toilet installation seems like a straightforward project until something goes wrong. If you replace a toilet and don’t notice a leak or make a mistake during the installation, it can lead to costly repairs down the road. A faulty supply valve could prevent the water going to the toilet from being turned off, or an old supply line could burst and flood the entire house. If the toilet flange is damaged or cracked, the toilet will not sit correctly, and sewage could leak into your home. A wax seal may not be installed correctly, resulting in a slow leak into the floor and walls. Saving money on the initial installation can be tempting, but making an installation mistake without knowing it will end up costing even more than if you’d hired a professional from the start.

A plumber can take care of emergencies.

Toilet installation mistakes can lead to plumbing emergencies. A professional has the right tools, specialized equipment, and the experience to take care of any emergency that arises, such as flooding, broken pipes, or cracked materials. Many leaks occur under the floor or behind walls. A licensed professional will have the knowledge and experience to notice small leaks that a homeowner would not.

Toilet Installation DIY or Hire a Professional

Verdict: DIY or Hire a Professional?

For toilet installation, it’s best to hire a professional, especially if you lack the experience and the tools for the job. A professional can handle whatever comes their way, including leaks, broken pipes, mold, and damaged or rotting subflooring. When you hire a plumber, you gain peace of mind from hiring a competent, efficient, insured, and licensed professional who offers a warranty on their work. Expert plumbers also have the correct tools and equipment to install a toilet quickly, saving you time. Hiring a licensed professional is worth the cost of labor and installation fees.

Verdict: Hire a professional

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Why Skip This DIY Project

If you’re looking to save time and ensure that the project is done correctly, skip the DIY and hire a professional. When you hire a licensed professional, they will inspect and discover any potential hazards. Hiring a plumber can also help keep you on budget and maintain your timeline. If you make any miscalculations while doing your own toilet installation, it may cost more in the long run to have a professional fix the mistakes.

Benefits of Hiring a Professional

Hiring a professional has advantages and is beneficial for a few reasons:

  • Experience. Licensed plumbers have installed many toilets over the years. They have the experience and know-how to successfully and efficiently install your new toilet. A professional will save you time and effort by installing your new toilet for you while ensuring that it’s done right, avoiding issues down the road.
  • Tools and materials. Professionals have the correct tools and materials for fast and easy toilet installation. They will make sure that the materials used are the right ones for the job.
  • Guaranteed proper toilet installation. An experienced plumber will guarantee their work and will often provide extended warranties on parts and labor.
  • Permits and licenses. If you’re remodeling and require a permit or a licensed installer, a professional will know the ins and outs of acquiring them. Having a licensed professional pull permits provides additional peace of mind for the homeowner since the contractor will need to follow building codes. It may also ensure that they’re licensed, certified, and have no open violations on their record.

For professional toilet installation, hire a HomeAdvisor plumber in your area.