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How long does a toilet last? A toilet designer answers

Since we have an in-house toilet expert who’s been a ceramic engineer for toilets specifically, we asked him: How long does a toilet last?

A toilet can last decades, even up to 50 years as long as the toilet has been under proper conditions. Meaning that the toilet has been taken care of regularly by keeping it clean and the toilet is located in an optimal location.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the life expectancy of your toilet and its toilet parts, and when to replace it!

What is the average life expectancy of a toilet?

The average life expectancy of a toilet is decades. Toilets must be made out of vitreous ceramics which ensures that the toilet has an extremely long life expectancy. When a toilet is not often cleaned it eventually leaves permanent stains so you may want to replace your toilet sooner for aesthetic reasons.

Vitreous ceramics are ceramics that are less than 1 percent porous. This means that vitreous ceramics don’t suck up water and bacteria as much as other materials. The more amount of water a toilet sucks up, the more brittle it becomes, resulting in a toilet that doesn’t last as long.

However the difference in these percentages is small, but we want the best when it comes to something we use on a daily basis, don’t we?

The location of the toilet also has a significant influence on a toilet’s life expectancy.

When you live in an area that regularly has freezing temperatures, the water within the siphon (the part of the toilet that connects to the wall and pipes) will also freeze. This may break the siphon meaning you’d have to replace the toilet entirely.

how long does a toilet last

How to elongate the life expectancy of your toilet

To elongate the life expectancy of your toilet it’s important to take care of it. Notice signs of breakage early and replace parts when needed. The type of cleaning products also matters. If you use aggressive products containing a high concentration of vinegar acid the glaze will deteriorate faster.

Damage to the glaze of the toilet will allow dirt and bacteria to stick. This may result in a dirty-looking toilet. So try to use products that aren’t as aggressive.

Click here if you’d like to learn more fun facts about toilets that might surprise you.

How do you know when you need a new toilet?

Toilets are meant to last for decades but how do you know when you need to buy an entire new toilet and not just toilet parts?

You need a new toilet when:

  • The bowl is damaged
  • The tank is damaged

When only the tank is damaged but the bowl isn’t you should only replace the tank. This only goes for two-piece toilets. When the tank of a one-piece toilet fails you must replace the entire toilet.

Always check the brand of your toilet before buying a new part.

Other things that may cause your toilet to not work properly but don’t require you to replace the entire toilet are:

  • When the toilet is clogged
  • When water keeps running

(If you can’t fully see the table below turn your phone sideways or use a computer)

You can fix it (yourself)Replace your toiletNotes
The toilet is cloggedX
The toilet is leaking from the bowlXCheck if it’s the bowl that’s leaking and not the seal between the bowl and the sewer.
The water keeps runningX
The toilet bowl is crackedX
The water pressure is low XThis doesn’t affect the flushing, but refilling the tank takes longer.
The toilet feels uncomfortableXYou can change the seat
You want to save water XYou can change the amount of water used in the tank
The water tank leakingXDepends on where it leaks. You may need to replace the floater mechanism.
When to fix your toilet vs when to replace your toilet

How old is my toilet? how can you tell how old a toilet is

To tell how old your toilet is you can look at the inside of the bowl. Here you might find a stamp that tells you how old it is. If that isn’t the case you can look up the brand and specifications of your toilet and identify when it was made.

Try asking the (previous) homeowner for more information.

how long does a toilet last

How often should a toilet be replaced?

There is no specific amount of time when a toilet should be replaced, but a toilet should be replaced when it has significant problems. Think of things like when the cost of replacing a part is greater than replacing the entire toilet. Aesthetic may also be a factor in when to replace a toilet (outdated looks).

Do toilets wear out over time?

A toilet does eventually wear out over time, but we’re talking about decades. You can easily replace parts of your toilet, like the seat which doesn’t require you to replace your toilet entirely.

Most frequently asked questions

Should I replace a 20-year-old toilet?

You should only replace a toilet when it has unfixable faults or when you simply don’t like the look of it.

How long does a porcelain toilet last?

A porcelain toilet can last up to decades. Porcelain toilets, also known as china toilets, may last up to 50 years.

How long does a toilet seat last?

A toilet seat doesn’t last as long as a toilet itself. This is why it’s easy to replace a toilet seat. Check the toilet seat’s brand to find out information on how long the seat should last.

How long do toilet flappers last?

The life expectancy of a toilet flapper depends on several things like the amount of calcium in your water. The more calcium in your water, the faster calcium will accumulate on the toilet flappers which leads to faster damage.

How long do toilet wax rings last?

A toilet wax ring may last for years but it doesn’t last as long as a rubber wax ring. The difference is that rubber rings are flexible and wax rings are not. The rubber will adjust to the toilet. A wax ring, once imprinted by the toilet will keep the biggest shape.

When someone sits on a toilet the toilet will be heavier and thus expands at the bottom. A rubber ring will adjust to the new shape.

Once the person gets up, the toilet will be less heavy and thus the bottom will go back to its original state. The rubber ring will again adjust accordingly.

A wax ring however will remain in the shape the toilet had when pressure was applied. It won’t closely fit into the toilet once a person gets up.

How long does a toilet last

How do I know if my toilet bowl is cracked?

You know your toilet bowl is cracked when you either see visible cracks on the bowl or when there’s water leaking from the bowl. After dropping something on your toilet, or after hitting your toilet with something always check to see if there are any visible cracks.

Regularly check your bowl for any cracks. You can easily do this every time you go to the bathroom.

Does a cracked toilet bowl need replacing?

A cracked toilet bowl always needs replacing, even when it doesn’t leak. A crack may lead to the shattering of the bowl which is very dangerous. The possibility of this happening is very small but there’s still a chance. Better to be safe than sorry.

Disclaimer: is not responsible for any damage caused to your toilet by (wrongly) interpreting information found on this site. Please seek custom advice from a professional to evaluate your current situation.