After spending a year abroad in cities and villages using everything from squat toilets to questionable outhouses, I was very thankful to return home to the familiarity and comfort of a standard toilet.
It’s where we spend time daily, and one of the most reliable appliances in the home, designed to last a VERY long time. But how long do toilets actually last?
A standard porcelain toilet will last 15-30 years, and if well-maintained, toilets can last up to 50 years. The average life expectancy of a toilet varies based on factors such as the quality of the toilet and its parts, toilet usage, and water quality.
With that said, you probably have no idea how old your toilet is (if you do, congrats on your new installation or your fantastic memory). So, you’ll need another way to determine if your toilet needs replaced. Let’s dig into the following topics to get you the details you need:
- How Long Do Toilets Last
- 5 Signs It’s Time for a New Toilet
- When to Repair vs Replace a Toilet
- Related Questions
How Long Do Toilets Last
Given the right conditions, porcelain toilets should last between 15 to 30 years and can even last up to 50 years. Some people might even say the lifespan is indefinite.
Most toilet bowls and tanks are made of porcelain, and have been for a LONG time. Porcelain, also known as vitreous china, is a clay that is inexpensively and easily molded and is very sturdy once put through the kiln.
It is also non-porous, meaning that there are no holes in the material for bacteria and moisture to get into, making it much easier to clean.
While the toilet bowl and tank made from porcelain can last a very long time, there are other considerations when thinking about how long a toilet might last.
Things That Reduce the Lifespan of a Toilet
As you can expect, the more often a toilet gets flushed, the faster it’ll reach the end of its lifespan.
When cleaning a toilet, it’s also important to consider cleaning products that will be safe for the toilet bowl, tank, seat, and smaller parts. As convenient as it may seem, try to avoid toilet water tablets (also known as in-tank cleaners).
Many kinds of these tablets contain chlorine bleach, which could damage parts in your toilet and reduce its lifespan. Some large toilet manufacturers, such as American Standard even say that they won’t cover damages caused by these cleaners in their warranties.
People living in areas with hard water may also find that their toilets don’t last as long. Over time, mineral deposits in hard water can damage toilets. To prevent hard water buildup in your home, you might consider installing a home water softener.
As you can see, there are several problems that could arise for your toilet over time. Now let’s turn our attention to a few signs that you can use, to tell if you need a new toilet.
5 Signs It’s Time for a New Toilet
1. Cracked Porcelain
While porcelain is a sturdy material, it’s not impervious to the elements (like my husband believes he is). Cracks can occur from anywhere between bolts being on too tight to someone accidentally dropping a heavy object on the toilet.
Depending on the type of crack and how early you catch it, you may be able to repair it. Anything severe will require you to get a new toilet.
2. Constant Clogging
It’s completely normal for a toilet to get clogged every now and then. If you find that the problem occurs on a daily basis, first of all, I am SO SORRY. That can be so frustrating, embarrassing, and time-consuming.
This problem could stem from an issue with your pipes. If you don’t know how to check that, you might want to consult a plumber. Then, if there’s no issue with your pipes, you might need to get your toilet replaced.
3. Old Toilet
If you have a toilet that was manufactured before 1992, chances are that you have toilet that uses 5 to 7 gallons of water per flush (gpf).
In 1992, a policy was enacted (which was carried out in 1994) that limits the flush of a toilet to 1.6 gallons of water. Toilets that use more water than this will have to replaced. On the bright side, you’ll save more on your water bill.
To check how much water your toilet uses, see if there’s anything marked outside of your toilet bowl or inside your tank that can give you a clue.
We have a 1.6 gallon Kohler toilet, and I was able to easily identify this information near the hinge of the toilet seat.
For those who still can’t find any information on the toilet itself, there’s a way to determine how much water your toilet uses yourself.
4. Rust or Corrosion
Seeing a little rust on just one part might be okay, and it could be that you need a replacement for a piece.
And if you have a rust problem within the bowl, then you may just need to get a little creative to clean it up. For example, cleaning your toilet bowl with WD-40 can work surprisingly well for rust.
However, if there are rust and corrosion on all the metal parts of your toilet, it could be a sign that you need a new toilet.
We spend a lot of time on toilets, so it makes sense for you to want a comfortable toilet. If you have a round toilet that you don’t like, then you might consider getting an elongated one if you have the space for it.
Next, let’s clarify when a toilet should be repaired and when it should be fully replaced.
When to Repair vs Replace a Toilet
1. When to Repair?
1.1 Water Around the Base
Water pooling around the base of your toilet, where it meets the floor, might mean that the wax ring needs to be replaced.
1.2 Cracked Toilet Seat
There’s nothing as awkward as cracking the toilet seat as a new visitor in someone else’s home, but I managed to do that in the Philippines.
Luckily, a toilet seat can easily be swapped without having to replace the entire toilet. It’s a quick project that involves removing the bolts at the edge of the old toilet seat near the tank.
1.3 Always Running
You definitely need to pay attention if your toilet won’t stop running. Toilets already use a LOT of water, and this problem can cost you much more money.
If this is the case, you have a problem somewhere in the tank. Inspect your flapper for any damage. This is the rubber piece at the bottom of your toilet tank used to control water going into the toilet bowl.
Also check to see if you need to adjust the water level in the tank. The water should sit an inch below the top of the overflow tube.
There could be a few other reasons why this is happening, so definitely check (and get a plumber if you’re not comfortable) if you need to replace any of the parts in the tank before considering a new toilet.
1.4 Occasional Clog
If your toilet is clogged, and it doesn’t happen 24/7, you’ll just need to take care of whatever is blocking the drain pipe. For many clogs, you’ll just need to plunge the toilet.
1.5 Tank Takes a Long Time To Fill
For this problem, find your water supply valve, and make sure it’s fully open. This is usually on the pipe under your toilet tank.
If you don’t have any of these problems (and there’s probably some others we’ve missed), then you might need to replace your toilet.
2. When to Replace?
Depending on your needs and taste, a toilet can cost you anywhere between $90 to over $3000. In addition to that, the average cost for toilet installation ranges between $122-$228.
Don’t forget to budget in about $50 to get rid of your old toilet. And if you’re considering moving your toilet yourself, then you should take a look at this summary of average toilet weights.
While it sounds like a lot of money, constantly making toilet repairs is not cheap. If you find yourself potentially spending hundreds of dollars on repairs, consider replacing your toilet.
How long do toilet seats last?
Toilet seats will generally last for 5 or more years. Exactly how long a specific toilet seat will last depends on a number of factors, including the material the toilet seat is made from, the quality of the hardware, and the amount of use it receives.
Will a Toilet Unclog Itself?
A clogged toilet will typically unclog itself over time. Most things that clog a toilet are water-soluble which means they will eventually dissolve in the toilet water. When the clog is given enough time to break down, the pressure of a flush should be enough to clear the pipes.
How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Toilet?
It typically costs between $125-$225 to install a new toilet. This does not include disposal of the original toilet, which adds an additional cost of around $50. There are several factors that can change toilet replacement costs, which could be less $100 or over $3000 in certain situations.