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I have a bathroom with a toilet that has very little space in front of the toilet, and I want to just move the toilet slightly to allow for more space in front.

How complicated is this job? I've done a bit of reading online about this, but wanted to ask if I should try to open up the toilet at all myself and try to rotate it perhaps, or move it myself.

I've never done such work before, and wanted to see if:
A) it makes sense for me to try to do this myself at all?
B) rotating or moving the toilet slightly behind makes sense at all?

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

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  • 1
    let me guess, your right knee hits the cabinet
    – Traveler
    Jan 3, 2023 at 0:41
  • 1
    Yes exactly right.
    – Rahul
    Jan 3, 2023 at 0:45
  • Do you have access from below? Not sure why it hasn't been asked since it is literally 90% of the question.
    – DMoore
    Jan 3, 2023 at 18:34
  • Ah sorry, I wasn't aware I should have put this in the question. I guess Im not sure how easily it can be accessed from below yet since I've never done this. I can guess where this would be below (I have stairs below this), but I dont know if there is something in the way that might block access.
    – Rahul
    Jan 3, 2023 at 22:16
  • 1
    Man, I thought our bathroom was small... I feel your pain!
    – FreeMan
    Jan 5, 2023 at 12:59

6 Answers 6

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That would be quite a job.

First the toilet tank will dictate how much you can turn the toilet (not much as I can see).

You have the wrong type (elongated) vs round toilet. Round are used in smaller spaces.

Round would give you 2 more inches of space in the front.

Simplest solution is to get round toilet seat and try it, if it is enough space now.

To rotate:

Before you start this check the space between toilet tank and the wall, that will determine how much you can rotate.

Shut off the water to the tank, and empty the tank.

Unscrew the toilet and lift it out.

Unscrew and Rotate the toilet holding ring to your needs, and screw it back in so that the bolts are in the right position.

Insert new wax ring and mount the toilet.

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  • 2
    "Toilet tank" means cistern, I assume? Jan 3, 2023 at 11:27
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    One of the important dimensions here is the distance from the toilet bolts (which hold the toilet to the floor) and the wall behind the tank/cistern. In the US toilets are made to fit this distance at either 10 or 12 inches. This controls the final distance between the back of the tank/cistern and the wall. If those distances don't work for this situation, the drain pipe may need to be modified.
    – gnicko
    Jan 3, 2023 at 14:57
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    Here in the US, @ChrisMelville, we just call it a "tank". It's a truck/lory, elevator/lift situation, I think we'll make it. ;)
    – FreeMan
    Jan 3, 2023 at 14:57
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    @Rahul, no, a round seat won't work on an elongated toilet, but a seat is cheaper than an entire new toilet, so it would work for testing out whether the difference in shape will increase the leg room sufficiently. (You could also just measure things out, but we often understand things better if we see it than if try to imagine it based on measurements.)
    – Martha
    Jan 3, 2023 at 18:37
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    Something to keep in mind is that when using a round toilet, people with dangling bits will probably need to tuck them before relieving themselves, lest they make a mess.
    – Blerg
    Jan 3, 2023 at 21:36
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You have two options without a complete overhaul...

#1 - buy a floating vanity. One without cabinets at bottom. Your knees are simply under sink. Still not optimal since when you get up you are still limited.

#2 - move the exit but this requires access from under or it becomes a big big job. Your toilet flange could be closer to the wall and definitely 6-8 inches to the right (or left if sitting on it). There are all types of options for this including normal toilets that need less wall clearance (yours is taking up a ton of space), to toilets that have tank hidden in wall, to "detached" tank that is much thinner, to tankless (needs electric). Obviously to make things "easy" you just google "low clearance toilet" or search big websites that usually have filters for this.

enter image description here

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  • Thanks for the detailed response! So just to summarize #2, depending on how easy it is to gain access from below, the job could be simply moving the flange right? I was trying to do some of this myself, so if it gets to the level where I'm moving the flange, I think I would need to get someone else to help me out there. I use the vanity cabinet (its a small bathroom) quite a bit for storing things, so I dont know if I'd want to get rid of that either, but thanks for the other suggestion. I can reconsider this option if I run out of toilet change options.
    – Rahul
    Jan 3, 2023 at 22:21
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    @Rahul If you want to move the flange (as opposed to rotating it), you likely want to get a plumber involved as that flange is connected to rigid piping under the floor that would need to be modified (some locales might require a plumber do the work). You'd also have to cut a new hole in that nice-looking floor and patch the old one. It would give you a nice clean-looking solution, but it's more than you probably want to DIY.
    – bta
    Jan 4, 2023 at 2:02
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    @Rahul Also, if losing storage space is your main aversion to a floating sink, you can regain that space with wall-mounted storage (I'm assuming you don't currently have any based on the shadows). You could potentially end up with considerably more storage at the end of the day.
    – bta
    Jan 4, 2023 at 2:08
  • I liked this storage removal option, with a wall mounted storage as you said, but I opened up my storage and saw a different pipe there (maybe it is indeed simpler to move that though..). I added a picture to explain what I mean.
    – Rahul
    Jan 5, 2023 at 3:40
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    @Rahul they make a "pedestal sink" that is designed to hide all the plumbing behind the "pedestal" (post) that sits under the sink. This, combined with a wall hung unit for storage might be a less expensive option than having a plumber redo waste lines under the floor.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 5, 2023 at 13:01
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Am alternative suggestion: it is probably much easier to move the sink than the toilet, if there's space to move it or rotate it.

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  • Thanks for the suggestion. I haven't uploaded the picture, but just to the left of the sink is a shower, and theres no space to move or rotate the sink around unfortunately, unless I get rid of the shower (which I also do not want to do).
    – Rahul
    Jan 3, 2023 at 17:33
  • Could you install a smaller sink then? One without a cabinet would also help the legroom problem, but would mean being limited to a small amount of medicine cabinet storage, or something free standing on the shower side of the sink. Jan 3, 2023 at 18:22
  • FWIW, I found that a higher sink spout made a tiny sink much more usable.
    – keshlam
    Jan 3, 2023 at 19:57
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    This would be easier than any toilet-moving approach. Get rid of the whole vanity and replace it with a small oval (not rectangular) wall-mounted basin open underneath. That will interfere much less with the toilet. If you need the storage install an overjohn above the toilet. If you need a little flat surface around the sink, install a tiny shelf on the wall above it.
    – jay613
    Jan 5, 2023 at 1:48
  • I liked this storage removal option, but I opened up my storage and saw a different pipe there (maybe it is indeed simpler to move that though..). I added a picture to explain what I mean.
    – Rahul
    Jan 5, 2023 at 3:42
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We had this issue (it was a code violation) and had done exactly what you are asking. I like the suggestion by @ruskes to get a round toilet (and the comments about getting a design that has a more compact tank/cistern). We had the toilet rotated 45 degrees. It looked intentional, rather than a hack, it satisfied the code, and most importantly, it provided a lot of legroom, and as an added bonus, created good side-room for storing classified documents that can only be read in the bathroom.

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  • 1
    Thanks for the response! In terms of rotating the toilet, did you attempt to do that yourself or call in someone to get it done for you ? I know we likely have different scenarios, but given the current responses mentioning that it will be a difficult job, Im wondering if it's worth me even trying to do this myself at all.
    – Rahul
    Jan 3, 2023 at 22:09
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    A follow-up on my question above - Did you have to move the flange at all when doing the rotate?
    – Rahul
    Jan 3, 2023 at 22:21
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    Storing classified documents adds a whole new dimension to the problem of clearance.
    – copper.hat
    Jan 4, 2023 at 4:45
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    @copper.hat It's terrible when you find that every piece of paper is marked "For Your Eyes Only"
    – jpa
    Jan 4, 2023 at 14:56
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    Mark’s answer below is probably a good response. it could be as easy as rotating the flange and tightening the bolts down, but there are are a lot of equally possible but more complicated scenarios. A handyman did this for us and his skill was nominal. I think if you can get the toilet off you’ll know whether to put it back on or if you can work on it yourself. I know that it wasn’t quite that easy for us, and we had to remove and rotate the flange as well. luckily, only one bolt worked and the rest were rusted out so it was relatively easy. Jan 5, 2023 at 2:24
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It depends on how the flange looks. You might not have to rotate the flange all. It might have slots that let you position the toilet in any angular position.

My recommendation is to take the toilet off and prepare to put it back exactly where it was once you see the condition of the flange, and also the condition of the tiles that lead up to the flange. Ideally, the flange is a perfect circle and the tiles have a perfect circular cut-out. Then you can spin the toilet around to any angle.

However, reality may not meet expectations. The flange might be held in place with quick set and consist of 95% rust. And only one bolt is actually working - the other bolt is just floating in a void. These are things are likely. And the tiles may not go all the way to the flange, so if you rotate the toilet, then you'll see ugly gaps. It might be ok to just fill the gaps with grout or mortar, but it won't look professional.

It is not a big deal to take the toilet off and put it back. But once your take it off, you will need to replace the wax seal. So first buy a wax seal at the hardware store, and clean the toilet really well so it isn't gross. Have a whole bunch of rag towels ready to wipe everything down. Then turn off the water, mop out all the standing water and take it off. And check it out, and decide how you want to proceed. The whole thing should take about an hour or two to investigate, and total cost is less than $10 for a new wax seal.

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  • Thank you for the response! I might still get a handyman to help me with the wax ring in this case as mentioned by Charlie Wheeler, but this gives me some more hope :)
    – Rahul
    Jan 5, 2023 at 3:38
  • The wax ring is easy to replace. You can watch any video on YouTube to see what is involved. You just plop it in position, and then carefully seat the toilet on top. It's as hard as putting a coaster under your beer. The only hard part is that you need to scrape out the old wax first with a putty knife. There are other "wax rings" (not made of wax) that allow you to reposition the toilet multiple times since they basically rubber wings. I would just use a wax ring. Jan 6, 2023 at 19:22
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Here's another idea, though I have no clue how much depth—if any—it'd save you: enter image description here

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