Summary: How to replace a toilet seat including how to recognise the type of toilet you have, how to remove the old seat and what tools you need for the job
There is a large array of toilet shapes on the market today and many shapes of seat to go with them. Fitting a replacement toilet seat can be a little tricky to the novice, however if some simple rules are followed, it is not difficult to do.
Typically the toilet seat is fixed to the toilet pan by two long screws that go through the pan using the holes supplied by the manufacturer. In the cheaper models, the screws are made from plastic, the majority are made from steel and the most expensive come in stainless steel or brass. Due to the wet environment, plated metal fixings can corrode quickly.
Modern toilets have standard hole centres. Replacement toilet seat kits usually have adjustment to allow fitting to the older or non standard types as well. It is essential that the new seat is supported by the pan at all the contact points.
Most toilets are basically ovoid in shape when looking down or in plan view. Some are round and there are some fancy ones that have a "square chin" design to the front. There are also seat fixings to cope with back-to the-wall pans, where you cannot get access to the nuts to secure the seat from underneath.
Health and safety must come first! The toilet is obviously a place that can harbour harmful germs and is a source of potential infection therefore precautions should be taken before starting the job.
It is wise to first use an anti-bacterial spray which kills most bacteria and fungi, such as E.coli, Salmonella, Listeria, MRSA and Campylobacter as well as most known viruses. They cost around £2 and are widely available from chemists and supermarkets.
Gloves can be worn for protection against bacteria when changing a loo seat, but this is not always practical. The disposable, thin type of latex gloves tend to tear and split. The more robust gloves, depending on the type, numb the sense of 'feeling' what you are doing.
If you prefer to work without gloves, first start by squeezing a little barrier cream onto your hands and massaging this in all over both hands back and front. Have some anti-bacterial cleaning spray to hand for cleaning the pan when the older seat is removed and before the new one goes on. The same cleaning agent can then be used when washing your hands after the job is done - assuming you are not sensitive to such cleaning chemicals. Always test for this, if you are not sure or have not used the product before.
Depending on the type of seat fixings, tools may not be needed. However it is probably best to get some basic tools together: pliers, a set of spanners or a small adjustable wrench may be required. For the metal fittings, it would also be handy to have a couple of 6mm nuts available.
Try to look and feel for a plastic winged nut under the pan (in most cases this will be plastic, but in some situations could also be metal). The screw is typically a "T" type with a course thread. The "T" locates in slots in the brackets that also have holes to accept a spindle or bar that goes through, locking the main seat to the top cover.
It is very easy to break these fittings. By removing both of the winged nuts, the seat can be lifted away. The pan can then be cleaned with the anti-bacterial cleaning spray.
Refitting the replacement seat is basically a reversal of the removal process. It is important to ensure the seat sits evenly and on the perimeter of the toilet bowl. Make sure that the nuts are secure but not overly tight, as these plastic screws will not take a lot of punishment before they will either give way or snap.
The mid-range priced seats (around £9.00 - £20.00) tend to be produced in timber or can also be available in MDF coated in a plastic and typically with a pattern, although this is not always the case. These seats come with a multi-adjustable set of fixings, typically with gold finish or silver/nickel finish.
Manufacturers tend to fit the brackets to the 2 part seat assembly. It is then a simple matter of fixing the short piece of studding to the underside of the brackets and combined with a cushioning washer, the studding is secured with a vinyl nut, secured from underneath.
The tricky bit is, especially with close-coupled suites, to ensure that the adjustment of the seat allows for both sections to be lifted and leant against the cistern whilst also allowing the seat to be supported at all contact points to the top rim of the pan.
A further problem with this type of fitting is that with so many adjustable parts, it is easy for movement to occur, thus producing a wobbly seat. A tip you may find useful is that having got the adjustment correct, before securing the seat to the pan, note the positions and then unscrew the main adjusting screws and coat the threads with a proprietary thread seal such as Loctite Thread Seal or failing that, use white correction fluid such as Tipp-Ex.
If used quickly, this can be an excellent thread seal and sufficient tightness of the screws will restrict movement. It is important when using metal fittings that the plastic cushioning washers and the vinyl nuts are used underneath to avoid scratching or marking the glaze of the pan.
Another variation of seat fitting involves brackets that fit through the pan in the conventional manner, but with a variation that they also incorporate a spigot that locates with a metal bar that acts as the hinge This bar has 2 blind holes and the method is to locate the spigots into the blind holes which also incorporate a tiny grub screw with an allen head. A tiny allen key is required to secure the grub screws to the spigot. It is quite fiddly as grub screws face the cistern and therefore one cannot see these grub screws once the seat is in position.
Another variation of modern seats involves a slow automatic closure. It is important to note that the brackets that come with these kits are left hand/right hand and to follow the manufacturer's instructions very carefully. To be effective, these seats cannot be raised and leant against the cistern with an angle over 110 degrees, therefore they may not fit in every location.
There are speciality toilet seats to suit the back-to-the-wall pan, where access to the underneath of the pan is denied. The seat brackets for this type of eventuality involve a one-piece expansive fitting similar in principle to a cavity wall fitting, where the securing screw is encapsulated by a long rubber grommet with the securing nut at the end.
The method is to fit the rubber grommet into the pan holes and tighten the screw that engages with the nut and as one tightens the nut is drawn up by the screwing action that expands the rubber grommet, making it tighten within the hole in the pan. This is a very good and well thought out solution for this eventuality and saves having to withdraw the pan from the wall, where re-sealing is difficult.
All project content written and produced by Mike Edwards
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