Don’t Fly Tip Your Old Bathroom – Recycle!

So, you’ve just bought a new bathroom suite - congratulations! But, what are you supposed to do with your old bathroom suite? If you’re not sure what the proper way to get rid of your old bathroom suite is, keep reading. 

Don’t fly tip your bathroom!

Now we’re not suggesting you would fly tip your old bathroom suite; you’re reading this article after all! However, it can be easy to inadvertently fly tip without realising it. 

How? Because, there are a large number of instances where homeowners have paid for a builder to remove and dispose of an old bathroom suite only for the builder to then illegally dispose of said bathroom suite. 

“Surely that’s the builder's problem?” You might ask. Well, if they are caught then yes, it’s their problem and they’ll be prosecuted. However, as the owner of the waste you are ultimately responsible for its proper disposal - therefore, if the builder who fly tipped the waste cannot be identified, you could find yourself in trouble. 

In 2019/20 there were 976,000 fly-tipping incidents across the UK. It’s a problem which is on the increase and one that local authorities are cracking down on - so it’s important you dispose of your bathroom properly.

How to dismantle your old bathroom suite

We know that many people prefer to do their home renovations themselves. As such, you’ll have to dispose of your old bathroom suite yourself. However, if you dismantle your old bathroom suite properly, then you’ll be surprised at how many items you can either use again or sell for a small sum. 

So, to help you, we’ve set out the best way to dismantle your old bathroom suite below.

Stripping out your old bathroom suite

As with many bathroom renovation or maintenance tasks, you should begin by turning off the water and electricity supplies - that way you won’t be in for any nasty shocks.

Once you’ve done that, you should ‘size up’ your old suite versus your new one. For example, if you are replacing your old basin with a slightly smaller one then you may need to rearrange the pipework. The same goes for any piece of bathroom furniture that’s connected to the bathroom plumbing. 

Removing the bath

This will be the largest piece of bathroom furniture to remove, however doing so is fairly straightforward. 

You’ll need to begin by disconnecting the supply pipes and overflow. This can be done using a set of spanners. If your bath is of the freestanding type, your next task will be to wind down its adjustable feet (if it has them). 

If you have a bath that’s built into a unit, then you’ll need to use a craft knife to carefully cut through the mastic seal around the bath. That should free it up for the next stage. Should your bath be part of a unit, then it will most probably be surrounded by a wooden frame (which is used to support the side panels). You should dismantle this frame before you attempt to move the bath. 

Once you’ve removed any surrounding frames or supports, you can then remove the bath. Acrylic and steel baths are relatively light, so can generally be removed in one piece. If you have a cast iron bath, you may need a considerable amount of help to remove it as cast iron is a very heavy metal. 

Removing the basin

Basins are available in a wide variety of formats. They can be attached to a pedestal, be sunk into countertops or affixed to the bathroom wall using brackets. Before you attempt to remove your old basin, you should determine how it is fixed in place. 

If your new basin is of a similar size to the old one, then you can reuse the existing pipework without alteration. To remove the old basin from this pipework, simply undo the compression nuts on the tap connectors with a wrench or cranked spanner. You’ll then need to disconnect the trap waste followed by the removal of any fixing or wall brackets using a spanner or screwdriver. 

Your basin should then pull away from the wall, countertop or pedestal. It can help to have someone support the basin as you undo the last fixings - you don’t want it falling onto the floor as you undo the last bracket!

Tip - When reusing old pipework, block the ends of with tape whilst you’re swapping the basins. The tape will prevent any bits of debris entering the pipework and potentially causing blockages later on.

Removing the toilet

When it comes to removing your old toilet, the first thing you’ll want to do is empty the cistern. You can do this by simply flushing the toilet after you’ve turned off the water supply.

With the cistern now empty, use a wrench to disconnect the supply and overflow pipes. Follow this up by undoing the fixings for the cistern (these are generally screws holding the cistern to the bathroom wall). 

Next it’s time to remove the lavatory pan. This part of the toilet is normally fixed to the floor using brass screws. When undoing these brass screws, be careful you don’t round them off as brass is quite a soft metal. 

At this point you’ll need to assess how the pan is connected to the waste pipe. If the pan is connected to the waste pipe via a flexible push-fit pan connector, then you can simply pull the pan free. Alternatively, the pan may be sealed to the waste pipe using putty or a sand and cement mix. If this is the case, you’ll need to carefully chip away at the sealant without damaging either the pan or the waste pipe collar. 

Once you’ve removed the pan, cover the waste pipe (this will prevent any debris entering the pipe and causing blockages at a later date). 

You are then ready to install your new toilet. 

So, having successfully removed your old bathroom suite, how do you properly (and legally!) dispose of it? You’ll find the answers below. 

How to dispose of an old bathroom suite

If you are using a builder then it’s likely they will charge you to dispose of your old bathroom suite. This is because many recycling centres charge for the disposal of construction waste and items such as baths, sinks and toilets.

However, if you are disposing of your old bathroom yourself, there are number of ways you can get rid of it:

  • Take it to your nearest recycling centre where it will be weighed and you will be charged based on the weight of the items. They will accept toilets, basins, baths, taps, old tiles and plasterboard etc. 
  • Call your council to come and collect the items. There is a charge involved with this. The amount you pay will depend on how items you want taken away (and how heavy/bulky they are). 
  • Separate out the metal from your recyclables and sell it to a local scrap dealer. This will allow you to make a small profit on the disposal of your waste from your refurbishment. Copper pipework, taps and radiators all sell well. 
  • Put your items on eBay. Many people are happy to buy used bathroom suites, especially if they are traditional cast iron or free-standing baths. You may also contact a dealer in household items who will come and collect free of charge. 
  • If you get a skip, check the disposal licence of the operator to ensure they are taking the waste to council run approved disposal sites. 

Disposing of single items of bathroom furniture

If you’re only looking to get rid of a single item of bathroom furniture, you can do so at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) for free.

Tip - To find your local Household Waste Recycling Centre, enter your postcode in the UK Government’s handy finder tool here

Why not upcycle your old bathroom furniture? 

Upcycling has been growing in popularity in recent years, and for good reason! It’s an environmentally friendly and sustainable way of giving your old bathroom furniture a new lease of life. 

You could turn an old toilet pan into an unusual plant pot for your garden, use old vanity units to create storage space in your garage or shed, or even use an old toilet seat to create an unusual frame for pictures or artwork. The only limit to upcycling is your imagination...

Do the right thing!

As we stated earlier, it is your responsibility to ensure that your old bathroom is correctly disposed of and if you fail to do so, you could be charged and fined. Obviously, the last thing you want is for your old loo to be sitting next to the road at a UK beauty spot. Not all builders and skip owners are reputable, so do your homework and make sure they are doing what they promise. 

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Don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog for more bathroom advice…

Bathroom DIY: How to Fit a Toilet | How to Seal a Bath Properly | How to Fit a Bathroom Vanity Unit