Informational Guide

How Long Do Toilets Last?

by Andrew

Your toilet will see a lot of use, and it's one of the most essential fixtures in your home. If your toilet suddenly stops working, it can be a real nightmare and disrupt your entire routine until it’s fixed. To help you prepare for this, it's a good idea to know how long toilets last, so in this guide, we'll give you the full breakdown to stop you from getting caught out.  

Toilets are designed to deal with a lot of use and are generally made with good quality materials to make them more durable. Unfortunately, there's no exact age limit on a toilet, and it won't just suddenly reach an expiry date. When they break down, it tends to be because a single component has malfunctioned or become damaged, rather than the toilet suddenly breaking. 

Most plumbers agree that a toilet can last about 50 years, but only if installed and maintained correctly. If you're really proactive with maintenance, then your toilet could last longer, but you'll probably need to replace specific components within the fixture to keep it running.  

Toilets are made up of several parts that see varying amounts of use and will last different amounts of time. Here's a quick breakdown of each so you can determine which parts will last longer: 

Toilet Structure/Bowl

Toilet bowls have been made out of porcelain for over a hundred years, and most toilets are still primarily made from porcelain or ceramic. Ceramic composites are perfect for holding large quantities of water because they are entirely nonporous. This means there's no risk of water leaking into your home, making it easier to keep them clean and sanitary. 

Porcelain and ceramic are actually very cheap to make, and they are primarily produced in China before being exported worldwide. Despite being affordable, the material is tough, and you may have already noticed how durable it can be. Therefore, the toilet structure is reasonably long-lasting and unlikely to stop working suddenly.  

The real risk with the toilet bowl and structure is from chipping. Your ceramic can become cracked and damaged if something is dropped on it or if it comes into contact with something metal. However, if you avoid that and keep it clean, you should expect the toilet structure to last for 30-50 years.  

Flush Mechanism 

The internal flush mechanism within your toilet is usually triggered by a handle or button on the outside. This flush mechanism is essential to the toilet and sees a lot of use. However, unlike other parts of your toilet, the handle or button will be exposed to physical pressure from the user, which means that over time it's natural for it to become damaged or broken. This can often be because it comes loose or because it disconnects from the internal mechanism within the toilet.  

Toilet handles and the flush mechanism should last 5-10 years, but it’s normal that they need to be replaced from time to time. The good news is that they are usually easy to fix, and you can buy replacement parts at any hardware store. Manufacturers also tend to guarantee these for a number of years so you can protect your investment.  

Toilet Seat 

Your toilet seat doesn’t really need an explanation, but it’s fair to say that it will see a lot of use. The weight of users can cause strain over time, so you shouldn’t expect the toilet seat to last forever.  

The lifespan of your toilet seat is hugely influenced by the quality of the product. For example, if you buy a cheap plastic toilet seat, it's likely to only last 1-2 years, but a good quality wooden or thick plastic toilet seat can last 5-7 years. Just make sure it's installed correctly because if it's at the wrong angle, it will become damaged more quickly.  

Wax Rings 

The toilet wax ring is what connects your toilet to your sewer. It's a ring of sticky wax that forms a watertight seal on the bottom of your toilet and connects to the sewer pipe. It's important that this is secure and undamaged, or water and waste can end up leaking into your home and causing issues.  

The wax ring is made to be durable and last a long time. It shouldn't need any maintenance and can last up to 30 years if installed correctly. If you notice any leaking coming from beneath your toilet, then you will need to call a plumber to have it replaced.  

Toilet Flappers 

Toilet flappers are smaller rubber stoppers in your toilet tank that stop water from flowing down into the toilet bowl. When you press the handle to flush the toilet, your flapper will lift and let water flow into the bowl, literally flushing the waste away. If your toilet flapper is damaged, then your toilet tank won't fill properly, water will constantly drip down into the bowl, and you won't be able to flush waste down to the sewer.  

The average toilet flapper will last 4-5 years, depending on the quality of the product. It’s important that you check it regularly and replace it as soon as you notice an issue to prevent any leaks in your bathroom.  

Toilet Fill Valves 

The toilet fill valve is responsible for refilling the toilet after you flush. The valves are usually operated by a pivoting lever that moves with the water level. This triggers the valve to open to let water in and to close when it reaches the right level. This is an essential part of the toilet mechanism, and without it, you won't be able to remove any waste.  

The lifespan of your toilet fill valve depends on the quality of your toilet. If you have a good quality mechanism and valve, it can last up to 10 years, but if it’s poor quality, you'll likely notice an issue or leak after 2-3 years. Toilet fill valves are essential for keeping your bathroom hygienic, so you'll just need to be prepared to replace them as soon as you notice an issue.  

Toilet Seals 

Spongy gasket seals are used on all wall-mounted toilets instead of a wax ring. These seals are essential to allow wastewater to flow into your sewer without leaking into your home. Over time these can degrade and typically only last 5-7 years. If you notice any kind of leak, then you'll need to examine the seals and see if they need to be replaced.   

toilet washroom

Floor Mounted Vs. Wall Mounted – Which Last Longer? 

There are two main types of toilets: floor mounted and wall-mounted. Traditional toilets tend to be floor mounted, which are much cheaper and easier to install. The design doesn't change too much between floor mounted toilets, and they all tend to have the same dimensions. They also tend to be cheaper to buy and easier to install.  

Wall-mounted toilets give a more stylish look and are often used in modern homes. They take up less space, and the height can be adjusted, making them more comfortable for older or disabled users. The disadvantage is that they are more complicated to install and are therefore more expensive.  

Both wall-mounted and floor mounted toilets should have a similar lifespan because they use the same parts and materials. However, it's much easier to perform routine maintenance on a floor mounted toilet and replace individual components as needed. Wall-mounted toilets will also have to deal with more pressure as they have less support underneath. This can make them loose and cause issues with drainage.  

All of this means that wall-mounted toilets will generally break down before floor mounted toilets and be more complicated to repair.  

white toilet bowl

What Reduces The Life of a Toilet? 

Toilets are designed to see a lot of use and can generally handle it, but there are a few factors that will noticeably reduce their lifespan:  

  • Overuse  
    It should go without saying that you should only flush your toilet when you need to. The more you use the toilet, the more strain is put on the system and the quicker it will deteriorate. You should try to avoid over flushing to increase the lifespan of the toilet.  
  • Lack Of Cleaning 
    Your toilet needs to be cleaned regularly to keep it functioning properly. The build-up of limescale, rust, and bacteria within the mechanism can lead to blockages and eventually cause the toilet to break down prematurely. To extend the lifespan of your toilet, you should clean it every week, but avoid using abrasive cleaners because they can damage the porcelain.
  • Lack Of Maintenance  
    Certain components within your toilet will need to be replaced occasionally, but you can protect the toilet itself with regular maintenance. Check your toilet thoroughly every 4-6 months and replace any seals or loose parts to keep it functioning properly for longer. 
  • Leaning On The Toilet 
    Leaning on your toilet or putting heavy objects on the tank can put a strain on the seals and connections. This can cause issues with the mechanism and reduce the lifespan of your toilet.  
toilet

Signs You Need To Replace Your Toilet 

It's important to keep a close eye on your toilet, and these are the key warning signs that something is wrong: 

  • Wobbly Toilet    
    If your toilet is starting to wobble when you use it, then it means something is loose. This can lead to leaking and make your bathroom unhygienic.  
  • Cracks  
    Cracks in the ceramic can lead to leaks which damage the flooring. You’ll need to repair them or hire a handyman to help you.  
  • Running Constantly   
    If water is constantly running, there's an issue within the tank. This is probably due to internal damage, and you may need to completely replace the toilet.  
  • Flushing Issues  
    If your toilet won’t flush, or it’s overflowing when you flush, then it means there’s a serious issue. This could be with the plumbing or the fixture itself, but you’ll probably need to replace the toilet.  
  • Increased Water Bill  
    If you notice your water bill has increased, it probably means your toilet is working harder than it should be. You should inspect your toilet to see if there are any issues and consider replacing it with a modern model. This may seem like an expense, but it can actually save you money in the long run by driving your water bills down.   

Toilet Popular Brands & Expected Lifespan 

The lifespan of toilets differs noticeably between brands. We’ve tried and tested some of the most popular models so you can see how long they should last:  

Kohler toilets should last around 20 years. They’re well made and shouldn’t need much maintenance, and you have a 1-year warranty to help protect your initial purchase.  

Toto toilets are considered to be some of the best on the market and are very durable. You should expect a Toto toilet to last 20-30 years if it’s maintained properly. 

Glacier Bay toilets have a powerful flushing mechanism that's effective at removing waste quickly. They also come with a decent finish that makes them easy to clean and maintain. You should expect a Glacier Bay toilet to last about 15-20 years if properly maintained. Just make sure you avoid abrasive cleaners, which can damage the finish.   

Upflush toilets were created by Saniflo and have a slightly different mechanism. The waste is actually broken up using a macerating technology and removes the need for complicated plumbing extensions. This means you can install them anywhere without spending a fortune. Upflush toilets are designed to last and should function well for 15-20 years with very little maintenance.  


Common Toilet Questions 

How can I make my toilet flush last longer? 

To strengthen your toilet flush, you should clear any clogs with a plunger and then check the float within the tank. If you adjust the float higher, you should get a longer flush with more water.  

Which is better: wax or rubber toilet seal? 

Both types of seals will work well, but many plumbers choose to use the wax seal because it's their tried and tested method. However, rubber toilet seals can be simpler, and we’d recommend using them if you’re doing it yourself.  

Can I use Vaseline on the toilet flapper? 

Yes, Vaseline can be used to stop your flapper from sticking.  


Conclusion

Toilets aren't designed to last forever, but if you buy the right make and model, you can get a good 20-30 years' use out of them. Hopefully this guide has helped explain how long each part of your toilet will last and has given you some useful tips on extending their lifespan.  

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