Your toilet is probably a part of the house that you don’t think about that often until it stops working and then you wonder, “is it repairable, or should I just replace my toilet?”.
It’s imperative that you have a toilet that works properly, so waiting until the last minute, when it stops working completely to replace your toilet, is a bad idea.
So how can you tell when your toilet is on its way out and that you should replace it as soon as possible?
There are a few tell-tale signs which include problems like flushing, cracks in the hardware, and damage to the surface. If your toilet is too old or you have to conduct minor repairs very frequently, that’s a sign that you should replace your throne.
How old is too old for a toilet, and how many repairs are too many before it’s time to upgrade your porcelain throne?
Here is everything you need to know about replacing your toilet:
How Often Should You Replace Your Toilet?
You don’t have to worry about replacing your toilet every few years the way you do with smaller parts and appliances around your home.
However, if your toilet has been around for several presidents, then it may be time to find a new one.
Some websites claim that toilets can last for up to 50 years, (Link) and there are definitely some well-maintained porcelain thrones that manage to last that long.
However, there are so many moving parts to a toilet that they usually stop working well before this cut-off point. A good rule of thumb is that you should replace your toilet if it is older than 25 years old and you start to have problems.
Replacing your toilet when it’s been around for more than 25 years won’t just save you the trouble of frequent repairs. It might also save you money.
In 1992, the U.S. government mandated that new toilets should be low-flush toilets, meaning they use about 1.6 gallons of water per flush. (Link)
If your toilet was manufactured before 1992, it probably uses much more water, so replacing it could bring you astronomical savings on your next water bill.
If your toilet is working just fine, you probably don’t have to go to the trouble of replacing it, unless you’re worried about your carbon footprint and want to switch to a low-flush toilet.
However, if your toilet is starting to cause you trouble and is old enough to rent a car, then it’s time to upgrade to a newer model.
Signs That You Should Replace Your Toilet
Here are a few warning signs to look out for that are telling you the porcelain throne is more like a porcelain rust bucket.
Having to conduct a few repairs or manage a few plumbing problems every so often is normal, but more serious issues are a sign that it is time to replace a good chunk of your toilet system.
1. You Conduct Constant Toilet Repairs
With so many moving parts, it’s common for toilets to break down every so often and need some adjusting to function properly.
However, if you have your plumber on speed dial or are looking into the tank several times a week to adjust something, then it’s time to get rid of your toilet.
If you’re constantly repairing just one part, then start by replacing that part first (for example, if your floater chain is always tangled, replace the chain). However, if you find yourself spending all of your free time adjusting different things on your toilet, then it’s time to seek out a replacement.
2. Trouble Flushing Your Toilet
Flushing is one of the most essential functions that a toilet performs (after all, nobody wants to see waste just hanging around in the bowl). Once your toilet has trouble flushing, then it’s time to replace it.
A frequent problem toilets on the way out encounter is clogging. A few clogs are normal, especially if members of your household forget that you should only flush toilet paper and waste down the toilet. However, if you’re spending several days a week standing over your toilet with a plunger, then it’s time to get rid of it.
If you don’t address a frequently clogging toilet in time, you may wind up with the dreaded toilet that won’t flush.
Older low-flush toilets become inefficient as they go along and need several flushes to get rid of waste.
Broken toilets won’t flush at all, no matter how many times you tug on the chain.
Unless your plumber identifies an issue clogging the toilet down the pipes, a broken flush is a sure sign that you need to replace your toilet.
3. Can Excessive Flushing Mean That It’s Time To Replace Your Toilet?
On the other end of the spectrum of flushing problems, you have excessive flushing.
If your toilet is constantly running or sets off frequent phantom flushes, then that is a sign that there is something wrong with its inner workings. Usually, you can fix excessive flushes by repairing or replacing the individual parts involved with this mechanism, such as the flapper and the fill valve. However, if you’ve already tried replacing these parts and your toilet still flushes even when you’re not using it, then it’s time to replace it.
4. Can Damage To The Porcelain Mean Its Time To Throwaway The Throne?
Besides an inability to flush, one of the most urgent signs that you need to replace your toilet immediately is damage to the porcelain.
If you notice cracks, scratches, or other damage to the toilet’s hardware, then you need to replace it. It’s tempting to dismiss this as just cosmetic damage, but these cracks can cause much bigger damage if you don’t address them.
A small crack can quickly expand and cause even more damage to the structure of your toilet. If you have a crack in the wrong place, such as the bowl or the tank, it could even cause leaks.
Sometimes, you can’t visibly see the damage to the material. Many hairline cracks are not visible to the naked eye but are still big enough to let water seep through.
If you notice puddles of water around your toilet, check for any cracks. If the crack is below the waterline, you need to replace your tank, and at this point, it’s easier to just replace the whole toilet.
5. Can A Wobbling Or Unstable Toilet Mean It’s Time For A Replacement?
If you sit down on your toilet and it wobbles, that’s not just a sign that your experience using it is about to be unpleasant. It could be a sign that there is something fundamentally wrong with your toilet.
The most common culprits behind loose or wobbly toilets are loose bolts, so don’t go looking up new toilet models right away if you notice a bit of a wobble. Instead, tighten the bolts first, which is easy to do on your own with a wrench, then try out your toilet.
If your toilet still doesn’t stabilize even after you tighten the bolts, that could be a sign that the porcelain is too damaged to stabilize the toilet.
It could also be a sign that you have a leak underneath the toilet that’s affected the integrity of your flooring.
Either way, it’s better to be safe than sorry and call in a plumber to replace your toilet and replace any damage that may have come up.
Frequently Asked Questions
Needing to replace your toilet is a complicated matter, requiring logistics, professional help, and money.
You probably have a lot of questions about the process, as have many others who have gone through the same thing.
Do Toilets Eventually Wear Out?
Yes, toilets wear out. They are some of the most-used appliances in your home, and years of flushing take their toll. The individual parts such as the flapper wear out, as does the overall toilet.
Toilets are pretty long-lasting, but after a few decades, you’ll probably have to replace yours.
Should You Replace Just The Tank Or The Whole Toilet?
If the problem is a crack or leak in the tank, you can get away with just replacing the tank.
Many hardware stores sell just toilet tanks, and the installation is easy enough to do even if you don’t have professional help.
However, if your toilet is old, experiencing other problems such as frequent clogging, or you’re not sure that the tank is at the root of your issue, then you’re better off playing it safe and replacing the whole toilet.
It’s not much more effort and money than just replacing the tank.
The Final Word on Replacing Your Toilet
If you don’t want to wake up one day with a complete plumbing disaster, it helps to recognize the signs that your toilet is on the way out and it’s time to replace it.
If it has trouble flushing, leaks, or there’s damage to the porcelain, then that’s a sign that it’s time for a new toilet.
If there are no big problems but you consistently have to make repairs, or the toilet is just too old, then it’s also better to look for a replacement.