Help! My toilet installation has too much space behind tank

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by dls, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. dls

    dls New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    ma
    Hello,
    I am coming to the end of a major house renovation involving two baths, kitchen, etc.. all gutted down to the studs. A few months ago I met with my plumber to discuss the layout of the bathroom fixtures. A floor joist was located where the toilet flange was to be installed. He mentioned that it wouldn't be a problem due to the use of an offset flange. Fast forward 4 months later. Everything is closed in, floor is tiled, and toilet was installed today. The problem: the toilet is 3 1/2 inches away from the wall and looks awful. My plumber's response was that the offset moved the rough in by a few inches.

    1. Does an offset really move the rough in by that much? I assumed the rough in remained the same regardless of the flange being used.
    2. Can I get a larger tank to make up the difference?
    3. If I have to get another toilet, do I go to a 10 or a 14 inch rough in?

    Final piece of into: The toilet that has been installed is a Kohler memoirs stately design with a 12 inch rough in. According to their specs, it should be around 1/2 inch away from the wall.

    Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,889
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I would install a cabinet on the wall behind the toilet then.
    Even if you were to switch brands and use a 2" offset, it would still be away from the wall.

    The framing could have been moved, or boxed out. You must have a 15" rough. The closet you can get would be a 14" rough toilet.
    Some brands have a tank that would be perhaps 2" thicker. Some brands will shift the bowl back 2" (TOTO with 14" Unifit)
  3. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,328
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    #1. Yes it can. #2 That's possible, but not the best way. #3 A 14" would likely do it OK however, there is another way that would be better. To be blunt, the Kohler line of toilets is not a very good option to begin with. I would recommend you consider one of the Toto toilets the utilized their Unifit adapter. There are several excellent choices that will accept this adapter. Briefly, these specific models use one of 3 sizes of adapters: 10", 12" and 14". This allows these toilet to fit on any of those rough-ins. You can see photos of these by going to the "Toilet Review" link at the top of this page and going to "Toto" toilets. Keep in mind that all Toto toilets do not use these adapters, and no other manufacturer's toilets will fit them either. You may not be as familiar with the Toto name as some of the old brand names, but Toto is the largest manufacturer of toilets in the world. Their products are of exceptional quality and perform flawlessly. Your plumber can get them even if he does not regularly stock them. The toilets using Unifit adapter do mount differently than any other toilet, but it is not really difficult if one can read and follow illustrated directions. You have gone to a great deal of work and expense to renovate your home, don't mess it up with a toilet that tends to clog.

    I see that Terry beat me to the punch on the Unifit recommendation.
  4. dls

    dls New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    ma
    Thank you Terry and Gary for your quick and thoughtful response. My follow up question- does Kohler make a thicker / larger tank in the Memoirs line? This would be the easiest (not to mention cheapest) option. A quick search online has not yielded any results but I thought I'd check with the pros.

    Thanks again
  5. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,889
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,888
    Location:
    New England
    If you want to move the front of the toilet back, then the only one out there to do that is Toto with one of the toilets that can use their Unifit adapter (this does NOT work on toilets not specifically built for it). One of those normally has about 3/4" behind the tank when used with either a 10, 12, or 14" rough-in (same toilet, different UniFIt adapters). Any other company that makes 14" rough-in toilets does it by just substituting a bigger tank, leaving the front of the thing sticking out into the room that extra 2". So, measure from the finished wall to the bolts holding the toilet on. Any difference from a standard will then reflect in the space behind the toilet you have once installed.
  7. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,328
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I am constantly amazed how often folks avoid using the best Toto in the world to stay with the "famous, well know brands of yore" that have proven repeatedly to be at best, second rate. A Toto using the Unifit adapter would not only make an attractive installation, it would be a proven trouble free fixture. When parts such as flappers and flush valves are needed, they are available at almost any hardware store at a modest price. Toilets are one of the most used appliances in the home, so why not go with the best especially when they will make an otherwise makeshift installation necessary? I just don't follow the logic. Now, if you really have to go cheap, there are the $99 (or even less) builder grade specials at discount stores. No, they are not very good, but they are cheap. Just get a good plunger to go with it.
  8. dls

    dls New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    ma
    Hi Gary,
    My reluctance to use Toto has nothing to do with not liking the brand. All of my fixtures were purchased months ago and have been sitting in my garage ever since. I cannot return the Kohler unit so if I choose to install a new toilet I'll have to eat the cost. Thanks again for your expertise- it's much appreciated.
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,480
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    I am a bit confused about the "rough in". If an offset flange was used and it is still 3 1/2" from the wall, that means it must have been almost 17" before he started, and if so, he should have been able to install it shorter at 10" and use the offset to move it out to 12". "Specialty" lines, such as the Memoirs, seldom come in anything other than 12" models. A tank from the other models will fit it, but you will lose the "square" tank and the decorative tank lid.
  10. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,813
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Okay, you have a zillion responses without giving us basic information to help.

    Get out a tape measure.

    Measure from the wall (the finished wall, not the baseboard) to the center of the closet bolts holding the toilet to the floor.

    THAT is your rough-in dimension.

    Tell us what it is and we'll go from there.

    In terms of the "offset", which direction was he going to put the offset in? Laterally or vertically? (I.e. which way were the joists facing).

    There is some reason that this thing is in the wrong place and it's likely that it was stuck in there without proper measuring. What the factors were that led to that is impossible for us to tell from your post (i.e. stage of construction when flange was installed, etc.). But this wasn't rocket science: Here's the wall, here's a tape measure, here's 12 inches...put it there. Done.

    This of course presupposes that there was an actual finished wall there, or at least indicia of where it was supposed to protrude to, when the flange was installed.

    Also, the excuse is lame. It is SOMEBODY's RESPONSIBILITY to make sure the flange is mounted where it should be. Did you have a general contractor on the job? Were there drawings? Is their retainage? Who installed the offset? Is the wall installed where it was expected to be? Don't pay whoever's responsibility this is, and get them to fix it. If some tiles have to come out, tough. The point of reducing this stuff to paper is that it makes it clear who screwed up. Hope you have some.

    Regardless, you're not going to get this screw-up fixed by being nice. I am always amazed when people say, "It's done. They're gone. It's not right, and now it's up to me to pay to fix it." If you have taken at least minimal steps to protect yourself, no it's not done.

    However, if you go get yourself a Toto with a Unifit adapter, for a few hundred dollars for the new toilet, you'll be able to move the thing two inches closer to the wall. Maybe you can barter the old toilet to someone for some offset in the value of products/services. Or sell it on Craigslist.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,480
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; THAT is your rough-in dimension

    We already know the rough-in dimension 12" toilet + 3 extra inches behind it = 15" rough
    What we do not know is the dimension of the pipe in the floor and why, or how, an offset collar was installed.
  12. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,888
    Location:
    New England
    Since most toilets have at least some normal space behind them, it could easily be a 12" toilet on a 14" rough-in - 2" more than when on a 'correctly sized' rough. Still, without knowing how the joists were run, there might be a beam right there, that may have been the best that could be done without major structural work. It should have been discussed what the options were before proceeding, but too much space is somewhat of a subjective opinion. Functionally, the toilet is working, you don't like the looks. Can it be resolved? Probably. Will it be costly? Maybe, maybe not. The alternative to moving the rough-in, is to use a different toilet designed for that rough-in. A Toto with a 14" rough-in would have about 3/4" behind it if the rough was perfect AND move the front of the toilet back towards the wall. Putting a bigger tank on what you have leaves the front sticking out into the room that extra 2".
  13. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,813
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Yeah, with all due respect, I understand that we can try to extrapolate what the ultimate rough-in turned out to be, but knowing the actual, measured rough-in would be best in terms of helping to evaluate solutions. Given that it takes less time to do that measurement than for me to type this...I think we should have it.
  14. dvddiva

    dvddiva New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Ontario
    I also recently purchased the Kohler Memoirs toilet with Stately Design.( k-3817 ) It is an elongated and
    Comfort height toilet. After reading the previous posts I took a look at Kohler manual and it indeed shows
    That the tank will sit 1/2 " from the wall.Mine has yet to be installed because I'm buying items slowly because
    Of the cost issue to demo a bathroom.
    I went and measured from the back base of the toilet to the centre of the hole where the cap wiil go.It measures
    Exactly 9 3/4 ".The tank lid measures exactly 9" in depth.I just set the tank on the bowl and it is 1" pastthe back of the base
    Of the toilet.The tank lid extends that measurement by 1/2".That says to me the distance from the cap to a wall will be
    11". This leads me to conclude that the contractor definitely screwed up the installation of the toilet.There is no way
    It should be sitting 3 or more inches from the wall.
    Although this toilet in only a 1.28 g, I am the only one going to use it.It has water sense capability,comfort height,elongated seat bowl and a class 5 flush.I bought the matching Kohler memoirs sink because the both together look exquisitely classy.But best of all,it was on sale.
    Toto may have the best flush as you say,but that isn't the only reason you purchase a toilet.As far as I'm concerned,given
    My needs and wants the Kohler was the far superior choice over the Toto.I hope my info.helped.Any replies appreciated.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2013
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,480
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    What is the "cap" and unless the outlet is EXACTLY in the center of the tank the depth of the tank has NOTHING to do with how far it will be from the wall. You went to a lot of trouble just to verify what we have been saying in ALL the previous posts. The toilet IS a 12" version which actually requires somewhere between 11" and 12", but since their toilet has 3" BEHIND it, the actual rough opening is about 14" from the wall. What we, and YOU, do NOT know is what the "real" dimension was BEFORE the offset collar was installed.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 26, 2013
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