Figure 6-13: Clear Floor Space required in kitchens (C) J Wiley, S Bliss Toilet Installation Procedures & Details: Best Practices
     


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Toilet installation: best practices guide: this article discusses the installation procedure for toilets, detailing best practices that avoid future leaks or toilet problems. We include the rough-in dimensions that show where to locate the toilet and its waste pipe, and we provide warnings about some SNAFUs you can avoid during toilet layout & installation.

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Installation Procedures & Details for Toilets

Figure 6-13: Clear Floor Space required in kitchens (C) J Wiley, S Bliss

At our toilet home page, TOILET TYPES, CONTROLS, PARTS we discuss the full range of types of toilets available. Also see ALTERNATIVE & WATERLESS TOILETS where we list alternative toilet designs to basic water-operated flush toilets. Repairing problem toilets are discussed at TOILET REPAIR GUIDE and at TOILET OVERFLOW EMERGENCY. If you are interested in choosing an environmentally friendly toilet tissue, see TOILET TISSUE CHOICES.

This article series discusses current best design practices for kitchens and bathrooms, including layout, clearances, work space, and accessible kitchen and bathroom layout, clearances, turning space, grab bars, controls, etc. We include advice on choosing and installing kitchen countertops, cabinets, and kitchen or bathroom flooring, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures and fixture controls such as faucets. A list of kitchen and bath product manufactures and sources is included.

As detailed in Chapter 6 of Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction:

  • Before installing a toilet, examine it for manufacturing defects that can cause leaks or prevent it from sealing fully to the closet flange. Occasionally the inlet where the tank connects to the bowl, or the outlet (horn) at the bottom of the bowl that seals to the closet flange, is deformed enough to cause problems.
  • Also make sure the base (foot) of the toilet is flat or it will have a tendency to rock and break the seal, leading to odors and leakage.
  • Next, make sure the floor framing where the toilet will be mounted is adequate. Ideally the toilet should sit between two joists set no more than 12 inches on-center, with blocking nailed on either side of the drain to reinforce the area around the closet flange (Figure 6-56). This will limit any movement in the fixture that could break the seal at the wax ring.

Typical toilet dimensions (C) D Friedman Titan
  • Toilet rough-in dimensions locate the toilet waste pipe and flange assembly in the building rough and finished floor so that the toilet will be spaced a proper distance from the wall. The toilet rough-in dimension illustration (left) shows the standard distances to the waste line center from the finished wall and side wall and are illustrated by this adaptation from a Titan toilet package.
    • 12" from finished wall behind toilet to center of waste line - may vary by toilet model
    • 15" from center of toilet to nearest side wall
    • 24" clear space in front of the toilet (or more)
    • 6" from flushometer to highest fixture part (for flush-o-meter toilets)
  • The hole in the subfloor cut to fit the toilet waste line should be just a bit larger than the drain. Also, it is best if the toilet sits on top of the finished flooring rather than having a dirt-trapping joint where the finished floor abuts the fixture.
  • Next, install the closet flange and secure it to the subfloor with brass or stainless-steel screws. With vinyl flooring, the flange can sit directly on the subfloor. With tile, use a plywood spacer to raise the flange to the height of the tile.

    To insure longevity, use brass closet bolts, nuts, and washers rather than the plated steel that is often packaged with the toilet.

    • Toilet wax ring installationThen place the toilet sealing wax ring in the closet flange (photo at left) and set the bowl in place.

      Toilet Setting Tips [DF]: Some plumbers use two wax rings. The first is pushed onto the bottom of the toilet bowl around its drain opening, pushing the wax ring thoroughly into recesses and making sure that the stick wax seals thoroughly to the bowl bottom and that it does not protrude into (and thus block) the bowl drain opening. A second, thin wax ring is then placed onto and gently pushed against the toilet flange ring on the floor.

      Now as the toilet is set and pushed down onto the toilet flange, rotate the toilet left and right slightly an inch or two to seal the two wax rings together. This approach can provide a more thorough seal and plenty of wax to minimize the risk of future leaks around the toilet base.
    • Gradually tighten the nuts on the closet bolts, alternating from one side to the other until it is snug without over tightening.
    • Finally, apply a bead of silicone caulk around the sides and front of the toilet foot, leaving the back unsealed. This will allow leaks to be spotted before serious damage develops.

    Toilet Leaks and Toilet-Caused Flood Catastrophes You Can Avoid

    Toilet catastrophe (C) D Friedman

    At our toilet home page, TOILET TYPES, CONTROLS, PARTS we discuss the full range of types of toilets available. Also see ALTERNATIVE & WATERLESS TOILETS where we list alternative toilet designs to basic water-operated flush toilets.

    Repairing problem toilets are discussed at TOILET REPAIR GUIDE and at TOILET OVERFLOW EMERGENCY. If you are interested in choosing an environmentally friendly toilet tissue, see TOILET TISSUE CHOICES.

    Hidden Toilet Leaks, Sewer Gases, Rot

    Watch out: a loose toilet will leak into the floor structure and if present, the ceiling below, risking costly rot, insect damage, or mold contamination, or odors and sewer gas leaks (see Leaky Toilet Seals - Odors and also see PLUMBING FIXTURE TRAPS and SEWER GAS ODORS).

    But don't over-tighten the toilet base mounting bolts or you risk breaking the toilet.

    Toilet Leak Catastrophes - cracked toilet tank floods home

    Toilet, one piece design (C) Daniel Friedman

    Watch out: be careful not to over-tighten the toilet tank mounting bolts. Doing so may break a porcelain toilet tank immediately, or, as we have observed, an over-tightened toilet tank may suddenly crack years later, flooding the building and leading to costly water damage.

    Our photo at left illustrates just this case: the toilet tank cracked suddenly (no one was at home), several years after the tank had been mounted. Details are at Toilet Leak Catastrophes

    See FLOODS IN buildings-priorities and also PRIORITIES for PREVENTING INDOOR MOLD for an explanation of how to prevent mold contamination after building flooding.

    Since two-piece toilet tank mounting hardware will include some thick rubber mounting washers you'll see that you can wiggle the reservoir tank slightly at its mounting point to the toilet bowl after the toilet tank has been secured.

    Kitchen & Bath Industry Associations

    Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers(AHAM) www.aham.org

    National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) www.nkba.org

    Ceramic Tile Institute of America www.ctioa.org

    Home Ventilation Institute (HVI) www.hvi.org

    Marble Institute of America www.marble-institute.com Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) www.porcelainenamel.com

    Tile Council of America (TCA) www.tileusa.com

    -- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.

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    Technical Reviewers & References

    • Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss. John Wiley & Sons, 2006. ISBN-10: 0471648361, ISBN-13: 978-0471648369, Hardcover: 320 pages, available from Amazon.com and also Wiley.com. See our book review of this publication.
    • Steve Bliss's Building Advisor at buildingadvisor.com helps homeowners & contractors plan & complete¬†successful building & remodeling projects: buying land, site work, building design, cost estimating, materials & components, & project management through complete construction. Email: info@buildingadvisor.com
      Steven Bliss served as editorial director and co-publisher of The Journal of Light Construction for 16 years and previously as building technology editor for Progressive Builder and Solar Age magazines. He worked in the building trades as a carpenter and design/build contractor for more than ten years and holds a masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Excerpts from his recent book, Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, Wiley (November 18, 2005) ISBN-10: 0471648361, ISBN-13: 978-0471648369, appear throughout this website, with permission and courtesy of Wiley & Sons. Best Practices Guide is available from the publisher, J. Wiley & Sons, and also at Amazon.com
    • Carson, Dunlop &
Associates Ltd., TorontoCarson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 info@carsondunlop.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides:
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        Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
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    • Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. Contact Mark Cramer at: 727-595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com 11/06

    Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair

    • Home Reference Book - Carson Dunlop AssociatesThe Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.

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