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6 Toilet Parts Even Rookies Can Install

Plumbing-related work can be intimidating for newbie DIYers, but installing these basic toilet parts is simpler than it seems.

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Repairing a toiletNavinpeep/Getty Images

Repairing a Toilet Yourself

Don’t be intimidated by bathroom plumbing and fixture repairs! Some toilet part installs actually make great beginner projects. A couple of basics to keep in mind before you begin:

  • Be sure to shut off your toilet’s water supply before you start tinkering with any component of your toilet, says Aaron Mulder, co-owner of Mr. Rooter Plumbing in San Antonio, Tex. This is easy — simply turn your shut-off valve on the wall behind or near the toilet into the “off” position. If you skip this important step, you could wind up with a wet mess to clean up if anything goes wrong.
  • Verify that any part you attempt to install is compatible with your plumbing system. Most are not universal. A great way to do this? Snap a photo with your smartphone and keep it handy while you shop.

Armed with this info, consider a DIY installation of one of the following six toilet parts.

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how to stop a running toilet replace the flapperFamily Handyman

A Rookie Can Install a Flapper

The flapper is a seal integral to the flushing process. When you press the handle, the flapper lifts to allow water to move from the tank to the toilet bowl. A constantly-running toilet is a good sign you need to replace your flapper, Mulder says.

The number one thing to know when installing a new one? Get the correct replacement. There are several options (2-in. vs. 3-in.; flexible vs. solid frame; adjustable vs. non-adjustable), so match the features of the new one with the old one so you know it will work. From there, it’s really just a matter of disconnecting the old flapper from the chain and the flush valve tube. Reverse the process with your new flapper — following manufacturer’s instructions, of course — and you’re set.

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A Rookie Can Install a Supply Line

The supply line is the tube that carries water from your plumbing system to the toilet itself. You’ll know it’s time for a new one when your current one shows signs of cracking or erosion. Mulder says it’s a pretty simple install if you have the right tools — specifically, a wrench and pliers.

First, remove the old one by unscrewing it from the tank with your pliers. Then use your wrench to remove the other end from the shut-off valve on the wall. This is a good time to head to the store for your new supply line. Mulder suggests taking your old one with you to make sure you grab the right replacement. Supply lines vary, and you need one that will work with your system. (You can also buy one before you start the process if you’re certain of what you need.)

The new one should just twist into place at the shut-off valve and at the tank. (Use your pliers to tighten, if necessary). Some are even made to click specifically to let you know they’re secure. Word to the wise: Keep the old supply line until the new one is up and running, just in case something goes wrong with the new one and you need to temporarily re-attach the old one.

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detachable toilet seatFamily Handyman

A Rookie Can Install a Toilet Seat

Over time, toilet seats become loose and wobbly, or they crack. Fortunately, installing a new one is a straightforward undertaking. All you need is a flathead screwdriver and maybe a wrench. And when buying a new seat, always make sure you select the right shape. An elongated seat won’t work on a round toilet bowl.

Start by removing the bolt covers, loosening the nuts from the bolts and then removing said components. At this point, your old seat will lift right off. To put the new one on, line up the hinges with the bolt holes. Then attach it with the new nuts and bolts (your new seat should come with all the necessary parts), snap on the bolt covers and you’re good to go.

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A Rookie Can Install a Wax Ring

The wax ring has the important job of working alongside the flange to keep the toilet sealed to the floor. If you’re noticing bad smells coming from your bathroom and/or your toilet rocking back and forth, it’s likely time to replace your wax ring.

The toughest thing about installing a new wax ring? Moving the toilet! To do this, first turn off the water (of course) and disconnect the supply line. Then remove the nuts and bolts holding the tank to the bowl, as well as the ones that secure the toilet to the floor and lift. Remove the tank. Then move the base of the toilet by lifting the toilet straight up, not sliding it out of the way. Get help or use a toilet jack if you need it.

Once the toilet is unattached from the floor, use a putty knife to remove the old wax ring from the black plastic ring below it. Finally, press the new ring into place and carefully re-install the toilet. Gently lift the toilet, line it up over the flange, set it down and re-secure the bolts TO the floor. Then re-attach the tank and sit backward on the toilet — your weight will help make the toilet snug to the floor.

Once you re-connect the supply line and turn the water back on, the toilet will be fully operational again. The weight of the toilet is enough to make sure the wax ring is secure.

Another piece of advice: Always wear rubber gloves when working with this part of your toilet

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A Rookie Can Install a Bidet

If you’ve been frustrated by recent toilet paper shortages, a bidet toilet attachment is something to consider. You can likely install one on your own, with little to no hassle. Mulder recommends getting one with stainless steel or brass components, because they are more durable than those made from strictly plastic materials. (This one from Bio Bidet is an Amazon bestseller — and at about $35, affordable, too.)

To install, as usual you’ll start by turning off the toilet shut-off valve on your wall, then following the instructions that come with your particular bidet. You’re essentially adding another supply line, but installation protocols vary.

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toilet handle flushFamily Handyman

A Rookie Can Install a Handle

If your toilet handle wiggles, makes strange sounds, isn’t properly triggering a flush or is just ugly, consider getting a new one.

Start by checking to see whether your handle is attached to the right or left side of the toilet, to be sure you purchase the correct replacement. Next, take the lid off the tank and remove the lift chain. Then simply unscrew the nut on the inside of the tank that holds the handle in place. Take the old handle off, attach the new handle with the new nuts it comes with, then re-attach the chain and test.

Dawn Weinberger
Dawn Weinberger is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon who has contributed to numerous publications and websites over the past 20 years, including RD.com, Glamour, Women's Health, Entrepreneur, and many others. Dawn has a BA in journalism from Western Washington University and is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She writes about everything from health and medicine to fashion, shopping, and business.