How To Install Handicap Toilet Accommodations For Your Tenant

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to accommodate to the needs of your disabled tenant at your own expense, as long as it is within reason. If you have a tenant that has a mobility impairment requiring them to use a wheelchair to move around the home, you may need to make adjustments, for example, to the home's doorway widths, create handicap-accessible sinks, and make appropriate adjustments to their toilet access. Here are some instructions to help you install handicap-friendly toilet access for your handicapped tenant.

Prepare Old Toilet for Removal

The first step to removing the old toilet is to shut off the water to the toilet. The water shut-off valve is located behind the toilet, under the tank, and is usually an oval-shaped knob. Turn this knob to the right until the valve is closed, then flush the toilet several times to drain the water from the tank and bowl. If there is still a little water in the bowl, use a toilet plunger to push it down through the pipes. Use a sponge or a towel to soak up any excess water you cannot flush down. If you leave any water inside the toilet, it can leak out while you are carrying the toilet out of the home. 

Disconnect the toilet from the water supply line by unscrewing the nut on the line between the water shut-off valve and the toilet tank, then remove the toilet tank. Now, remove the plastic caps on either side of the base of the toilet. It can be helpful to pry these up with a flat-head screw driver. Under each cap will be a bolt holding the toilet to the floor. Use a wrench to loosen each bolt.

Remove the Old Toilet

Use a straight edge razor to cut through any caulking or adhesive around the base of the toilet, freeing it from the floor. Pull the toilet from side to side until it is loosened. Make sure to have an old towel handy to plug into the open sewer line when you pull the toilet from its position on the floor. Toxic and dangerous sewer gases can flow from the sewer into your home through this opening. 

Lift up the old toilet and stuff the towel inside the sewer pipe opening. Pull up the old wax gasket with your screw driver and dispose of it and the old toilet.

Install the Handicap-Friendly Toilet

When you select the new toilet for your handicap tenant, make sure the toilet seat sits between 17 and 19 inches from the floor. This will help your tenant to easily move from their wheelchair to the toilet seat and back. Also, the flush handle on the new toilet should be no higher than 44 inches, so you tenant can reach it from their wheelchair.

Along with the new toilet, you will also need a new wax gasket to seal the toilet base connection to the sewer line and a tube of caulk. Place the toilet on its side and insert the new wax gasket onto the bottom of the new toilet. Apply a line of caulk around the base of the toilet. With the help of another person, remove the towel from the sewer pipe and line up the toilet and the wax gasket onto the floor sewer pipe. As you do this, be sure to position both floor bolts into the toilet's connecting bolt holes.

Screw the toilet base nuts onto the bolts and replace the toilet's bolt caps. Attach the toilet tank onto the bowl and connect the water line to the toilet, then turn on the water valve.

Install Handicap-Friendly Grab Bars

It is also important to install grab bars around the toilet to help your tenant while getting on and off the toilet. The Americans With Disabilities Act recommends to install grab bars on the wall behind and on both sides of the toilet. Install the horizontal grab bars at a height of between 33 and 36 inches from the floor. The grab bar installed behind the toilet is recommended to be at least 36 inches long, and the grab bars at either side of the toilet are recommended to be at least 42 inches long.

Making these improvements to your tenant's bathroom toilet area will give them the handicap access they need. For assistance installing a handicap-friendly toilet, contact a plumber from a company like A Absolute Plumbing & Heating.