Hire a Pro Advice: Replace a Toilet

Get help finding a plumber to replace a toilet and advice about what should be in a written contract with a plumbing contractor. Learn about the different types of toilets and choosing one.

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

All licensed plumbing contractors are plumbers, but not all plumbers are licensed. A plumbing contractor can have other (sometimes unlicensed) plumbers working under his or her license. To find a plumber to replace a toilet, ask friends and neighbors for a referral or use the Yellow Pages. Go online to Bing, Yahoo or Google and search for an online contractor referral service or type "install a toilet in (your city)" in the search box.

Another option is to buy the toilet at a home or kitchen/bath center where an installation service is offered. Usually there is a tag on the toilet indicating the "installed price". Most stores offer the traditional cash-and-carry price as well as the installed price that covers installation. The retailer arranges for a plumber to do the installation and is responsible for both scheduling the job and of course, your satisfaction.

A licensed plumbing contractor is responsible for the workmanship and quality of his or her workers. This license may be revoked if the plumber has a history of doing shoddy work, so most professionals take pride in their work and value their licenses. If you're trying to cut corners and save some money by hiring an unlicensed plumber to do a side job or work on the weekends, you don't have much recourse if the work is unsatisfactory.

Here are the basic points that should be included in a written contract with a plumber to replace a toilet:

  • Description of the work to be completed with a detailed list of the toilet to be used (brand name, style, color of fixtures, and other specifications, including exact materials)
  • Cost of material and all warranties from the manufacturer
  • Cost of labor and amount of deposit, if required
  • Job installation date

There are two basic types of toilets, a one-piece fixture constructed as one unit with a tank and bowl, and a two-piece unit with a separate water tank and bowl. Two-piece units are the most popular and are less expensive than one-piece toilets. The most popular flush mechanism is a gravity-fed flush unit that uses the force of gravity and a siphoning, pull-through action to empty the bowl. Put more simply: The water in the tank drops into the bowl and drives the waste down the drain pipe. The other type, a pressure-assisted toilet, relies on either compressed air or a water pump to boost the flushing power.

The color selection and styles can be mind-numbing. Spend some time walking through a bathroom showroom or display to get an idea of the colors and styles you like before talking to a plumbing contractor. You can window shop online by visiting web sites of bathroom fixture manufacturers. Peruse their line of toilets and related fixtures. By narrowing your preferences down before talking with a plumber you'll get a more accurate estimate. One last point, white fixtures always cost considerably less than colored ones.