How to replace a toilet tank

How to replace a toilet tank

Replacing a toilet tank is a task most homeowners will have to eventually do at least once. However, this is a task that you can do easily without having to call a plumbing service to come to help you out. 

Oftentimes you can buy a toilet tank separately from the toilet bowl. The one thing that you need to make sure of is to match the manufacturer of the old toilet cistern and the model of the new one. This will ensure proper installation and proper function when you’re done.

Experts say that, if kept in good condition, your toilet basin and toilet cistern can last you upwards of 50 years or more. Even if you have an older toilet now, simply keeping it clean, rust-free, and crack free, you can prolong its lifespan of it. 

When purchasing the new cistern, also be aware that not all toilet tanks come with all of the proper equipment. If something has happened to the old toilet tank, such as a crack in the body or a leak, it’s best to go ahead and change out all of the inner working pieces as well. 

Should the new cistern not include those pieces, here is a list of all the things you will need. 

Once you’ve picked out your new toilet cistern, you can begin replacing your toilet tank. Below, you’ll find a list of materials needed to get the job done as well as a step-by-step guide. 

Materials Needed :

  • Adjustable Wrench or Pliers 
  • Screwdriver 
  • Rags or Towels 
  • Sponge – One larger than a standard kitchen sponge. 

How to Replace a Toilet Tank

  1. To begin, you’ll need to shut off the water supply using the shutoff valve that is located behind the left-hand side of your toilet. Reach behind the toilet and find the shutoff valve. It is usually located on the left-hand side of the basin either sticking out of the floor or the wall. There should be a knob or lever that controls the water flow into the toilet tank – this is the shutoff valve. Turn it until the water shuts off. 
  2. Next, you’ll need to empty the water from the toilet cistern. Pushing down on the flush lever, flush the toilet 1 to 2 times to drain as much of the water out of the toilet tank as you can. If the chain connecting the flush lever to the rubber flapper is broken, you’ll need to remove the lid of the toilet tank and place it somewhere safe. Reach your hand into the open toilet tank and manually pull the flapper up. This will flush your toilet without having to use the flush lever. 

Note: If the Fill Tube begins refilling the tank with water, you haven’t turned the shutoff valve all the way off. There should be no running water going to the toilet.

  1. Once you’ve gotten as much of the water out as you can, you’ll need to grab a sponge. A sponge larger than a kitchen sponge will be perfect. Place the sponge in the bottom of the tank allowing it to soak up the remaining water. Ring the sponge out into a bucket or something with a drain and continue until all of the remaining water is gone. 

If you don’t have a sponge or would prefer to use rags instead, lay the rags in the bottom of the cistern, allowing them to soak up the water. Be mindful of the amount of water that is in the bottom of the toilet cistern. If there is still a considerable amount, the rags will become heavy, weighted with the water, and will drip as you move them out of the cistern. 

  1. Now you’ll need a pair of pliers or an adjustable wrench to break loose the plastic nut that connects the water supply line to the bottom of the toilet cistern. You may want to lay down a rag or two to catch any water leakage as you do this. 
  2. Using a screwdriver or an adjustable wrench, you’ll want to now remove the mounting bolts that mount the toilet cistern to the toilet basin. Usually, on older toilets, there are two bolts, one on the left and one on the right, but some toilets have a singular bolt in the center of the toilet cistern. Depending on where the mounting bolts are located, you may need to lose the metal washer on the bottom of the bolt, otherwise, you’ll just need to reach inside the toilet tank with a wrench and remove the bolts.
  3. Gently lift the toilet tank off of the basin and place it somewhere safe and out of the way. 
  4. Most new toilet tanks will already have the spud washer installed. If yours does not, do not fret. The spud washer is found directly in the middle of the underside of the toilet cistern. Simply, screw in the new spud and use the adjustable wrench or a pair of pliers to tighten it into place. Slide the new spud washer onto the spud once you are finished tightening it with the protruding end facing towards you. 
  5. Now that is done, you may gently place the new cistern on top of the basin, aligning the mounting holes on the toilet basin to the ones in the toilet tank. 
  6. Begin mounting the toilet tank with the mounting bolts. The new toilet tank should’ve come with new bolts, rubber washers, and metal washers. The rubber washer goes on the inside of the toilet tank with the head of the bolt. The metal washer goes on the outside and tightens the bolt to the bottom of the cistern. 
  7.  Using the screwdriver, hold the bolt from the top and use the adjustable wrench or a pair of pliers to tighten the metal washer. Careful not to overtighten as to not crack the brand-new toilet tank. 
  8.  Before you reconnectre the water supply line, inspect the inner workings of the toilet tank first. Ensure that all of the pieces such as the fill valve, flush lever, float ball, and rubber flapper are all in place correctly.
  9.  Once you’ve ensured that everything is in place correctly, you may reconnect the water supply line. Screw the plastic nut into the water inlet. You can use the pliers to tighten the nut but that isn’t necessary. 
  10.  Reach behind the toilet to the water shutoff valve, turning it until the water begins flowing again. Allow for the toilet cistern to refill until the float ball reaches the top and shuts the fill valve off. Flush the toilet 1 to 2 times ensuring that the toilet cistern refills fully and that there are no leaks coming from the toilet bolts, spud washer, or water supply line. 

Now that your toilet repair is done, you can dispose of the old toilet cistern. Most trash services will not accept the old toilet cistern or old toilet basins. You’ll need to take it to the local trash dump and allow for them to take the cistern where it needs to go.

If the mounting bolts still look like they are in good conduction, keep them! You can soak the mounting bolts in white vinegar and use a wire brush to clean off any rust or hard water buildup. If the bolts appear to be stripped or are not coming clean, it’s best to throw them away in favor of new ones. 

The rubber washers that accompany the mounting bolts should not be saved. They are easily ripped or become compromised over time. Faulty mounting bolts and washers are often the cause of leaky toilet tanks.

In order to keep your new toilet tank clean and expand its longevity, be sure to soak it in white or basic vinegar 1 to 2 times a year. Rust and hard water buildup can quickly ruin a toilet. By cleaning the toilet cistern every so often, you can ensure that it sticks around for the rest of your toilet’s life span. 

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