3 Things To Consider When Replacing A Trailer Toilet With A Standard One

Posted on: 21 June 2016

Do you live in a single-wide trailer? Are you itching to remodel your bathroom and wondering whether or not you can replace your low-grade, trailer-model toilet with a standard one from your local home improvement store? In most cases, yes you can, but there are some things you should keep in mind when doing so. 

Be Sure To Measure Toilet Distance From Wall

The standard distance between the back wall behind a toilet and the center of the toilet flange is 12 inches. In order to save space, though, this distance is shortened to 10 inches in some models of mobile homes.

Before you rip your old toilet out, measure the distance between its hold down bolts and the wall behind it (not the baseboard). If the distance is 12 inches, you should be fine selecting a standard toilet from the display lineup at Home Depot or Lowe's. If your measurement is 10 inches however, you'll likely need to either stick to a mobile home supply store for toilet options or have a toilet special ordered from your favorite home improvement store.

Now's The Time To Do Your Floor

Older mobile homes are notorious for having weak, particle board floors. When water comes in contact with particle board, the board gets soft and pulpy and begins to rot. And once a subfloor is damaged badly enough, water on the floor can seep down into the floor joists and insulation of your home, causing structural damage and mold problems.

You do not want to spend your time installing a brand new toilet only to have it slowly sinking down into a spongy particle board floor shortly thereafter, so now is the time to inspect your bathroom floor. Pull up your floor laminate and take a good look at the area around your toilet flange. If you see water stains or any other signs of damage, or if the floor feels soft or squishy, you'll need to replace that section of subfloor before installing your new toilet. If damage is extensive, you may need to reinforce the floor joists, too, before moving forward. 

Whether you're a handyperson who can do the work yourself or you contract the work out, don't replace the particle board with more particle board. Instead, replace it with more durable plywood. It's also a good idea to paint the entire floor with a waterproof penetrating sealer before laying your laminate back down. 

Don't Forget Your Wax Ring And Water Supply Line

You'll need to place a wax ring around the flange before placing your new toilet. The wax ring forms a watertight barrier between your toilet and the floor. Many toilets on the market don't come with this wax ring, so check the box of the toilet model you choose to see if a wax ring is included, and purchase one if it doesn't.

Another thing your new toilet won't come with is a new water supply line. Mobile home manufacturers sometimes try to save money on construction costs by using light, plastic plumbing materials that are prone to leaking. While you're replacing your toilet, it's a good idea to go ahead and replace its water supply line at the same time so you know the entire unit will be sturdy and free of leaks.

While your main water supply is turned off, use a wrench to remove the line connecting your toilet to the water pipe coming out of your bathroom wall behind the toilet. Take the entire thing to a plumbing supply store and ask for one that's the same size but made out of stainless steel or PEX. The piece of plumbing will cost you less than $10, and once your new toilet is in place, installing it is as simple as using a wrench to tighten the fittings on each end.

You absolutely can replace a cheap trailer toilet with a more durable model, but keep the above 3 things in mind when doing so. For more advice on how to redo your bathroom with higher-quality plumbing fixtures, contact a plumber in your area who specializes in mobile home plumbing systems.