A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Instructions Are Not a Load of Crap

After Pete and our friend Rod hauled the 300-pound steel plate (give or take a few pounds) out to the alley last Monday, we went to Advantage Kitchen & Bath in Niles to purchase our new TOTO Aquia Dual-Flush toilet.

One of the unique things about the TOTO toilet is its concealed trapway. A concealed trapway means that the sides are smooth down to the floor, which makes the toilet exterior much easier to keep clean.

According to the salesperson, the installation would be a little different than typical toilets, but not difficult.

While Pete and I picked it up at the warehouse in back, Rod went back to the salesperson to get more information about the installation. Turns out that guy didn’t know much, so Rod pressed him to find someone who had experience with it.

The gentleman who finally helped him said it would only take a couple of hours and gave him a couple of pointers.

Around 6 p.m. they removed the old toilet and started the installation.

I started on dinner.

(For those of you who aren’t regular readers, this is NOT my choice in bathroom design — I have the PO to thank for that.)

Dinner was on hold when they had to run to Menards and Home Depot for parts at around 8:30. Not a good sign.

It was after they returned and I heard some discussion about “trying this” or “how about if we do this” when I stepped in to see what’s what.

Dinner went into the oven’s warming drawer.

Maybe it’s just me, but I like to think that installation instructions, no matter how difficult they may be to read, are there for a reason and are usually the best way to go. Improvising is best left for things that don’t involve plumbing, or electricity for that matter.

Apparently this is where we make a good team.— Pete’s eyes seem to glaze over whenever instructions are involved. Granted, the instructions are poor and a little difficult to decipher, and even though I have a lot of confidence in both their skills and experience, I put my foot down with suggestions that weren’t in the instruction booklet. Going back to square one, I carefully went through the instructions with them.

The main difference between the TOTO Aquia and typical toilet installations is this piece:

Underneath, the toilet bowl uses this modular rough-in system/PVC outlet that is installed separately over the wax ring. The toilet bowl is then placed over this outlet and slides securely into the pipe socket.

One of the first things they didn’t do was install the mounting blocks on either side of the PVC outlet (not shown). The mounting blocks make it a more difficult installation on a tile floor because holes have to be drilled to screw down the blocks, which will eventually secure the toilet to the floor. There are 2 additional holes in the back to drill, for a total of six, however the guy at the store told Rod that the holes in back weren’t really necessary. Without seeing the parts and instructions first, Rod and Pete misinterpreted his advice and tried to install it without drilling at all.

It took some time to drill through the tile, but at least they had the properly-sized drill bit on hand and it was pretty much smooth sailing from there.

Finally, shortly before 11 p.m. the toilet was fully operational.

Dinner was still warm and delicious.

A couple things to note:

  • Measure the distance between your water supply valve to the centerline of the rough-in. According to the instructions, it should be 8-10″ to the left (facing the bowl). While the toilet works with our existing valve, the valve is situated behind the toilet instead of next to it which, in an emergency, will make it difficult to turn the water off. Yeah, we like to live dangerously.
  • The one thing we didn’t do was the 2 screws in the back based on the guy’s advice. Even though it sits fine and feels very secure, I would have gone ahead and drilled those as well, but we would have had to remove the PVC outlet, and therefore replace the wax ring. The hardware store would have been closed by then.
  • As you use the toilet, you’ll start to hear a faint trickling sound, supposedly because it is displacing water in the trap. This is normal, but some people may find it annoying. It really doesn’t bother me.

All in all I really like the toilet. It’s quiet, flushes quickly, and so far it has handled everything with the smaller flush. I’m interested to see if it makes much of a difference in our water bill.


  1. Jan on November 30, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Recently on TV there was an installation of a dual flush apparatus that turns any regular toilet into a dual flush. They said it is currently only available online and sells for under 30 bucks. With 4 toilets I think we might try it. I think the show was Ask This Old House but not 100% sure.

    In our last home we installed a pressure assisted toilet that cost us 750 dollars. We never liked it. It almost never flushed solid waste correctly resulting in 3 or 4 flushes (no savings there) and sometimes it did not build pressure correctly.

  2. kim on December 1, 2008 at 12:41 am

    Yeah, I thought it was pretty easy to install. But I read the instructions. 😉

    Thanks for the info on the trickling. I didn’t think it was hurting anything, but good to know it’s a normal occurrence.

  3. southsideandy on December 2, 2008 at 1:16 am

    Interesting installation on this toilet…and good to know if we ever go that route…

    Hey Jan, my PO left us with three, count ’em, three “jet-engine” sounding pressure-assist toilets that I hate…mostly because, 1, our water pressure upstairs wasn’t strong enough to overcome the internal pressure of the tank and fill it, and 2, I’d much rather deal with the mechanical style, as I know how to fix those very, very easily…the pressure-assist, I have no clue.

    I’ve already replaced one, and will eventually get around to the other two…someday!

  4. bungalowbliss on December 2, 2008 at 9:47 am

    During my recent bath remodel, the toilet was one of the things I was most excited about. Isn’t it funny? I never thought I’d find a discussion on toilet installation so interesting! Congrats on the back-to-fully-functional plumbing!

  5. Karen Anne on December 12, 2008 at 9:12 am

    That tile. My eyes, my eyes 🙂

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