Informational Guide

How To Dispose Of An Old Toilet

by Andrew

With most household garbage or waste items, we don't give it a second thought. Simply toss it in the bin and let the garbage men come by and take it away. However, with more oversized and uncommon items, you may wonder how to properly dispose of them. Or if you are even allowed to. 

If you need to know how to dispose of a toilet, we have you covered—everything from proper and safe removal to various disposal options that are safe, legal, and easy. We also answer some of your most common questions about the process along the way. 

Toilets are large, bulky, heavy items that can crack or break easily. Sometimes we want a new style, or our old commode just wears out. Whatever the case, before installing your new toilet, you need to dispose of the old one. Here are six ideal methods for proper toilet disposal. 

Curbside Disposal 

Some municipalities and cities will allow for curbside pick-up. Many will have "large item" days where they use larger trucks to move bigger pieces for disposal. Others will take bulky items on normal trash collection days. You will need to contact your local waste company to get their details. Typically, there is a fee involved. 

It is important to note, though, that when you do put your toilet curbside, you have it in 2 pieces. After removing the seat, you need to separate the tank from the bowl and place them next to each other, not on top of each other. This will make it easier to handle and prevent damage, messes, or injury to the garbageman. 

Recycle It 

If your city does not take large items, or the bulk item collection day is far away, you may be able to recycle your toilet. Porcelain is a recycled material but must be handled with specific methods. Because of this, many recycling plants do not take porcelain. 

You can call your water and waste company to find out if their recycling plant accepts porcelain, specifically toilets. If they do not, you can find out where the nearest recycling plant is that does. In most cases, there will be a fee because of the cost of recycling toilet materials. Make sure you know how much the fee is before you head out to drop it off. 

Up-cycle or Reuse Your Toilet 

For the crafty or DIY enthusiasts, there are many things you can do with porcelain. For instance, you can remove the bolts and grommets from the tank and use it as a planter. Mounted on the wall or deck railing, it has holes for draining and a large space for root expansion. 

You can also smash the bowl into smaller pieces (use eye and hang protection) and create porcelain collage art, backdrops, or even garden stepping stones. You will want to ensure that the old toilet is properly cleaned before you start, of course, but your options with reusing the porcelain are limited only by your imagination. 

Landfills and Solid Waste Transfer 

If pick-up by your local waste management company doesn't allow toilet pick-up, you can manually take your toilet to a landfill or solid waste transfer station. In most cases, there are no fees, but some smaller cities or towns may charge an access fee. 

Before you head out, you should call and ensure the landfill accepts toilets (some don’t) and if there are any fees. You will need a way to transport the toilet, too. Most solid waste transfer stations won't offer pick-up. 

It is also important to know where the proper landfills are. Many cities have a couple of areas that are open to the public, and certain ones are for particular items. Household items like commodes need to go to the proper landfill and the proper area. 

Donate Your Toilet 

If you are replacing your toilet and it is still in proper working order, you can donate it. Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army are the best options for toilet donation. You can find a Habitat for Humanity ReStore that will take your older but still functional housing items. 

You will need to ensure the toilet is complete, not cracked or leaking, and clean. Taking the extra time to clean and carefully remove the toilet will ensure it is accepted at the donation drop-off. Your local area may have other options, too. Habitat for Humanity is the most popular, but any home restoration group or non-profit will likely accept them, too. 

Hire Someone From an App To Do It For You 

If you don’t have a ReStore nearby, you can also use recycling apps like Freecycle, Gimme, Streetbank, etc. Once you have the app and make your account, you just list and upload an image, and when someone is interested, you can set up a meeting and pick up time or location. 

Other options include asking on apps, Facebook Market Place, Craigslist, and other sites for someone to come pick up and dispose of the toilet for you. With these options, you may need to pay a fee to the person doing the job for you, but it can be minimal and simple. 

Kohler Toilet

Legalities Around Where Old Toilets Can Go 

In almost all areas of the country, toilet disposal is not illegal. However, it is against the law to dump human waste. It is also illegal to leave a toilet on the side of the road unless it is in a collection area. 

However, proper disposal, either with the help of local waste management companies or manually, is not illegal and, in fact, expected. As we covered above, there are several ways to properly dispose of or reuse your old toilet. 

If you suspect your local area, city or municipality has laws or issues against toilet disposal, you can call the city building department, your water company, or waste disposal company to get more details. It is always wise to reach out and find out for sure before you make any plans or take action on your own. 

Dual Flush Toilet

How To Correctly Remove Any Toilet (DIY Steps For Homeowners) 

Removing a toilet will require patience, knowledge of the use of tools, personal safety, and working in tight spaces. The center of the closet flange (drain hole) to the back wall is only 12 inches, so you will work in the space to remove bolts and need to be comfortable working in this small area. 

Before you begin the removal steps, it is vital to have the right tools and equipment. That list includes: 

  • Eye protection 
  • Rubber gloves 
  • Scrub brush 
  • Cleaning solution 
  • Sponge and bucket. 
  • Old towels or rags. 
  • Wrench set 
  • Screwdriver (flat and Phillips) 
  • Putty knife or utility knife 

The first step is to turn off the water supply to the tank. There will be a connection on the wall behind the toilet with a turn knob. Turn the knob until the valve is fully closed. Then you will need to drain the toilet. Flush the toilet until the tank is empty. 

Note that some water will remain in the tank and in the neck of the toilet. Use a towel or sponge to soak up as much water from the bottom of the tank as possible. Next, you will disconnect and remove the tank. 

Start with the water inlet connection. Using your wrenches, remove the water line connected to the valve you turned off in the first step. A small amount of water may drain out of the hose. You will need to remove the tank bolts next. The nuts are located on the bottom side of the tank, and typically there are 2 or 3 bolts. You can use the screwdriver to hold the bolt still while you remove the nuts from the bottom side. 

Once the bolts are removed, lift the tank off and place it on a towel inside the bathtub, so it is out of the way. Next, locate the two floor fasteners on either side of the bowl. Using a socket wrench or adjustable wrench, remove the nuts holding the bolts in place. 

The bottom of the bowl will have caulking and a wax seal. You can use the utility knife or putty knife to separate this from the floor. Carefully lift the bowl off the bolts and place it on a towel inside the tub to allow the water to drain from the neck. 

The final steps are cleaning the floor, removing the wax rating, flange, old bolts caulking, and other debris around the drain. You should also use a small piece of cardboard or old rags to block the drain hole. Noxious fumes, bugs, and debris can come out of the drain, and you want to prevent the debris you are cleaning up from falling into the hole. 

At this point, toilet removal is complete. All that is left is to properly dispose of your old toilet and install a new one in its place. 

Corner Toilet

Common Disposing An Old Toilet Questions 

How long does a toilet usually last? 

Even with repeated and constant use, the household toilet has an average life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. With proper cleaning, care, and maintenance, you can get a couple decades from your toilet. However, at some point in the ownership of your home, the toilet will need to be replaced. 

What are some signs you may need to replace your toilet? 

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if your toilet needs to be replaced. The common visual signs are cracks in the bowl, a leaking tank, or finding puddles around the base even when not in use. However, if the toilet wobbles, clogs often for no apparent reason, or you find mineral deposit build-up around the bolts in the tank, it is probably time to replace. 

How long does it take to remove a toilet? 

The time to remove an older toilet will depend on your level of skill, the tools available, and the age and condition of the toilet. On average, it should take a single person about 30 minutes to an hour to completely remove the toilet. Though corroded bolts, cracked bowls, and other issues can add to the time. 

Can you reuse an old toilet? 

Just because a toilet is removed doesn't mean it cannot be used again. If there is no damage and you replace the wax rings, flanges, mounting bolts, and tank ballcock mechanism, an older toilet can be reused with confidence. 

Do you have to replace the wax ring when you remove a toilet? 

Yes, a wax ring cannot be reused, and the old one must be removed when a new toilet is installed. This is because the wax ring creates the seal around the drain line and bottom of the toilet. It molds and hardens around these two parts, and when the toilet is removed, it will not seal properly again. 

Can you just throw an old toilet seat in the garbage bin? 

The toilet seat doesn’t have the same restriction as the actual toilet does when it comes to disposal. In most cases, you can remove the seat and toss it in the garbage bin for regular weekly disposal.  


Conclusion

Disposal of an old toilet may seem like a simple task at first glance. However, depending on local laws, size limitations, and other factors, it may be more difficult than you first think. 

There are plenty of legal and proper toilet disposal methods, as we covered here. These include bulk item pick-up days, landfill placement, and even donation for reuse. Whatever your disposal methods are, make sure they are safe, proper, and legal. 

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