Memo to the Future

How to Replace Your Toilet Tank Lid: A Saga

Toilet Tank Lid

The toilet tank lid (or TTL): fragile and deceptively expensive ceramic.

I write this for those unfortunate souls of the future world who find themselves in the unlucky position of losing—or smashing, or cracking, or irreparably chipping—their toilet tank lid. Curse your luck (or whoever broke your damned TTL) because the quest to find a replacement can get complicated. There are two questions you are no doubt asking yourself, so let’s see if I can be of some help.

Kate

Kate

I took a hammer to a few things in the house after an angry shouting match, and now my toilet tank lid needs replacing. Can I even buy a toilet tank lid by itself?

This is the kind of question that is rarely considered until that ill-fated morning when you wake up and realize that yes, the party was out of control, and wow—someone totally walked out with your toilet tank lid. Bummer! But listen: you can purchase a TTL by itself if you’re willing to do some leg work.

Finding the Right Replacement

My lid was unceremoniously shattered on a recent Saturday night when a shelf broke free from the wall in my bathroom and sent its far-too-heavy contents crashing down onto the tank of my toilet. I’m pretty near positive that one of my cats orchestrated this disaster, but the crash occurred under the cover of night and thus far no witness (namely, my other cat) has come forward. Surveying the scene the next morning, I decided there was no way I could plausibly glue the TTL back together. I checked the model number of the toilet (which is usually stamped on the inside of the tank) and set off to the hardware store in search of a replacement.

Well, surprise! Hardware stores don’t carry solitary tank lids, because who breaks just the lid? They will happily sell you an entire replacement tank with lid intact, but I wasn’t ready to make such a drastic and, I assumed, more costly concession. So it was off to see my old friend the internet, where I immediately took to my Twitter account to complain about hardware stores not carrying TTLs and imploring anyone who might have a spare Kohler tank lid lying around to get in touch. A cursory search of Kohler’s site was little help, so I googled around and quickly found a couple of places that specialize in reselling nothing but tank lids of every stripe—how’s that for specialization? Which brings us to the next question:

Alberto

Alberto

I managed to split my buddy’s toilet tank lid in two after tampering with the flush in an embarrassing bathroom mishap I’d rather not recount. Just how much is this damned thing going to set me back, anyway?

Purchasing a tank lid is a lot like shopping for a car part, I’ve discovered—it all depends on the make, the model, and the year your toilet was made. Most run-of-the-mill modern tanks can be covered for somewhere in the ballpark of $25—$60, but add in some age and a little embellishment (turquoise tank, anyone?) and you can easily spend $100—$200 or more to get a replacement. There was also the shipping variable: Could I trust that such a fragile ceramic part would survive shipment to Chicago? I weighed this against living with the embarassing wreckage of an un-topped toilet tank, which introduces a social cost to this whole situation, too. You can forget about having guests over until you’ve sorted this whole mess out.

Kohler Responds with Some Advice

Thanks to the power of modern computing and a consumer culture in which corporations now troll social networks for mentions of their name, a Kohler representative contacted me on Twitter to suggest that I call their customer support line to secure a toilet tank lid replacement:

Hello. KOHLER toilet tank lids are available by calling 1.800.4KOHLER. You’ll need to know the toilet model number and color.

Making an old fashioned phone call to the company hadn’t really occurred to me, so after shaking off the creepiness of a corporate rep making contact over Twitter, I called up Kohler directly.

I was helpfully informed that the utterly basic lid I was looking for was out of stock, that it would take a month and a half for my TTL to ship, and that it would set me back $31.30. Add in ground shipping for another $7.95 and I’m just shy of spending $40 for the promise of having a complete toilet a month and a half from now. I hung up and hit the hardware store circuit, relenquishing my frugal tendencies in the face of reality: who wants to stare into a topless toilet tank for a month and a half, anyway? I lucked out at a local shop and returned an hour later with a backup tank and its replacement lid, haggled down to $45 from a closeout price of $55. In the end, it worked out better to just buy the whole tank, which is something fellow shoppers should keep in mind. For the rest of you, respect and protect your TTL, and may you never know the hassle of having to replace it.

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  1. mike wong
    8.31.09

    mike wong

    How does one replace just the tank? I could google… but I has a general laze washing over me.

  2. Chris
    8.31.09

    Chris

    I haven’t gotten that far yet. It seems relatively straight-forward (unscrew the bolts holding it to the bowl, decouple the water connection, replace the tank, re-attach everything), but I’ll hold off on the details until I’m actually forced to do that level of repair. The good news is that I now have a replacement at the ready just in case some horrible accident befalls the tank itself (knock on porcelain).

  3. angela
    9.20.11

    angela

    please i need a vortens sasa 460 nobel and woolsley toilet lid. please let me know

  4. shanoboy
    1.8.12

    shanoboy

    Man, this just sucks. I’m having an impossible time locating my lid at a decent price. Almost as cheap just to buy a new toilet!

  5. Tom
    1.17.12

    Tom

    I am sorry to hear your tank lid broke but I do love hearing these stories of the search for a tank lid. I started a business selling toilet tank lids online after I was charged with replacing a broken one, and I focus on reasonable pricing. Check it out, http://www.cheaptoilettanklids.com.

  6. Eric
    6.24.12

    Eric

    I live in an apt. and broke the TTL a couple years ago. During this time I’ve had a white shelf board from the hardware store on the tank. Unobtrusive enough that I completely forgot about it. We may be moving when our current lease is up, so I’m looking to get a proper lid back on it. I’ll probably end up ordering from Tom’s link.

  7. laCross
    1.2.13

    laCross

    A customer of mine has a custom made toilet tank lid from Swanklids. It was actually custom made to fit the tank using their old broken lid as a template. Dressed up the bathroom beautifuly. SwankLids.com

  8. Mike
    1.11.13

    Mike

    There are lots of us on eBay who sell these. There are numbers and manufacturer’s marks on the bottom (inside) of your broken lid. Search for those with “toilet tank lid” and get your measurements (usually, the widest & longest parts measured from underneath). If the price is too high, send us a note – maybe we’ll haggle. The reason the prices are high for some lids, as the article notes, is that there’s only a few of the old ones floating around the market/web at any one time. It is still cheaper than buying a new tank & lid, much less a whole toilet, which will then have to be installed by a plumber in most cases. Finally, I definitely can ship it UPS ground and have it arrive safely. I do it all the time.

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