Today we’re going over in detail how to install a bidet in an apartment. Since you’re asking, you must know by now that some bidets can be installed in apartments.
Bidets that can be installed in apartments include seats (electric and non-electric), attachments, and handheld sprayers. However, standalone units and toilet-bidet combos (toilets with a built-in bidet) can’t be installed in apartments without permission from the property owner.
The pervasive myth that renters can’t install bidets traces back to how the original bidet had to be installed as a separate fixture in the bathroom—what they call standalone bidets.
Old school bidets required their own plumbing (p-trap, drain pipe, shutoff valves, etc.). Standalone bidet installation is irreversible and it takes up floor space. Nowadays, a lot of bidets are attached to existing toilets in a completely reversible installation, making them great for apartments.
Also, as discussed in the article on the Best Bidets for Apartments, the same info applies to rental homes and a lot of it applies to short-term accommodations like Airbnb.
How To Install a Bidet in an Apartment
Step 1: Ensure Your Bidet Is Apartment-Friendly
Most bidets can be installed in apartments legally without permission but some are more apartment-friendly than others.
Here’s a quick summary:
- Electric bidet seats (recommended). These replace the existing seat on your apartment’s toilet so long as the original seat is put back before you move out. Electric seats are the best because they come with all the bells and whistles like warm air dryers (ditch toilet paper for good), self-sanitizing nozzles and bowls, digital aiming of the wand, filtered water, etc. I.e., they can import all the technology of a $5K smart toilet onto the decades-old toilet your grandmother uses. No matter how crappy your apartment is, you can have a toilet befitting a king. Make sure to get a bidet for elongated toilets or for round bowl designs depending on the kind your apartment has. Which reminds me, the one drawback with seats (electric and non-electric) is that your next apartment may have a toilet with a different bowl design.
- Non-electric seats (not recommended). The installation is equally as involved as that of electric seats, but they don’t offer any of the technology. Attachments are much better if you want to go the non-electric route. They offer the same limited features of non-electric seats—self-cleaning wands and hot water capability—with none of the hassles of saving original parts for reinstallation. Also, the lids on bidet seats tend not to be sittable. By getting an attachment, you can continue to sit on your toilet when it’s closed (for resting or clipping toenails, etc.).
- Bidet attachments (recommended). Like seats, these are attached to existing toilets. However, they don’t replace any parts. Instead, they’re fixed beneath the current seat. Most spray cold water but some can be wired into the sink shutoff valve to provide warm water.
- Handheld bidets (recommended). Handheld bidets look just like the sprayers found in many kitchen sinks—for manual dishwashing and spraying produce. They offer few features but get the job done. And they’re great for strange toilet designs, like those with extra-wide bolt hole widths. Compared to attachments, it’s much harder to get warm water with this kind unless you get a faucet bidet which has several drawbacks. Some like the TRUSTMI can provide warm water but must be installed permanently which is off-limits for renters.
For those who are new to the subject, here’s a quick rundown of the different types of bidets.
These two are off-limits.
Step 2: Gather the Right Tools
This will depend on the bidet you get.
Get These for Sure
Regardless of the bidet you will need:
- A snapshot of the current toilet configuration. I’d take a picture or two of how everything looks now so that when you move out of the apartment, you can ensure everything looks like it did originally.
- A small to medium-sized towel for any water that comes out of the hoses or tank.
- An adjustable open-faced wrench. These will be used for loosening and tightening connections. If you know the sizes needed for your bidet, you can get some non-adjustable wrenches.
- Teflon tape. Thread seal tape aka plumber’s tape is used to seal pipe threads so they don’t leak. It lubricates the threads, allows for deeper thread seating, and prevents threads from seizing when being unscrewed.
Get These for Seats and Attachments
Tools for bidet seats (electric and non-electric) and attachments:
- Two large screwdrivers, one flathead and one Phillips head. Mounting hardware can usually be loosened and tightened with a flathead. But if you have both, I’d grab both.
- A drinking cup to test the water after the installation.
For Electric Seats Only
Additional tools for electric bidets:
- A large towel to wrap the seat/lid for long-term storage so they don’t get scratched.
- Surge protector. Since you’re installing it, your apartment won’t replace your bidet if it gets struck by lightning. Having a surge protector and a good warranty ensures your bidet saves you money over the long term.
- A properly grounded outlet (3 prong outlet).
- A 3-prong extension cord if needed. Most bathrooms have an outlet or two but if it’s far from the toilet, you’ll need an extension hose.
Step 3: Locate the Shutoff Valve
There should be a shutoff valve next to your toilet.
Most stick out from the wall and look more like this:
It depends on the country, but 3/8” is the standard in the US and Canada. It can vary even in North America. My last home had a much bigger shutoff valve (over 1/2”). But apartments are much more standardized. The size won’t be relevant unless you have a skirted toilet. More on that in a bit.
Can you locate the shutoff valve?
- If yes, then move on to the next step.
- If no, then you have a tankless or concealed cistern wall-hung toilet.
A toilet like this:
I’ve got you covered. Check out the article on how to install a bidet on a tankless toilet. It covers bidet installation on truly tankless toilets (flushometers) and wall-hung toilets with concealed tanks.
Step 4 and 5: Close the Shutoff Valve and Give it a Flush
Turn off the shutoff valve by turning it clockwise. This cuts off the water supply to the tank.
Giving the toilet a long flush empties the tank. Just hold the flush valve down until water stops flowing into the bowl. Once it sounds and looks empty, give it another flush and hold it down for a few more seconds.
Step 6: Locate the Fill Valve
The shutoff valve you closed has a hose running off of it. If you have a regular two-piece toilet, the hose will run to a fill valve extending from the bottom of the toilet tank.
If you have a one-piece toilet that’s flat in the back, the fill valve may be sticking out from the back of the tank making it difficult to access.
Step 7: Remove the Hose from the Fill Valve
Can you access the fill valve enough to remove the hose?
- No. Then you probably have a one-piece and/or skirted toilet (probably both). These toilets are often flat in the back and closer to the wall making it hard to access the valve. Even if you can access it, the area may be too cramped to fit the T-connector. If that’s you, check out how to install a bidet on a skirted toilet. The info should apply whether the toilet is skirted or not.
- Yes. Remove the supply hose from the fill valve by turning it counterclockwise. Use the towel to catch any water that comes out of the hose and/or valve.
Step 8: Attach the T-Connector to the Fill Valve
Having removed the hose, a threaded shank should be extending from the bottom of the tank. Thread the 7/8” female end of the T-connector onto the threaded shank. Tighten by hand and then snuggly by wrench. Don’t over tighten.
If you can’t fit the T-connector where it goes, you’ll need an extension hose or 3/8″ T-valve. Again, see the article on skirted toilets.
Step 9: Attach the Hose to the T-Connector
The instructions for your bidet will probably have you wrap the male end of the T-connector in Teflon.
After adding the Teflon, thread the hose to the bottom male end of the T-connector that came with your bidet.
Again, tighten snuggly but don’t overdo it.
Step 10: Remove the Existing Seat or Connect the Water
Connect the Water (Handheld Bidets Only)
If you have a handheld bidet, then you’re about done. Attach one end of the hose to the open end of the T-connector and the other end to the inlet on the bidet.
Move on to the last step.
Remove the Existing Seat (Seats and Attachments)
Remove the hinge covers and use one of the screwdrivers (probably the flathead) to remove the mounting bolts.
As you’re unscrewing them, hold the nuts (on the underside) in place with your hands or an open-face wrench.
Step 11: Install the Bidet on the Toilet
Follow the directions that came with your bidet to install the seat or attachment on the toilet by attaching the bidet to the back of the rim.
Bidet attachments come with circular adjustment plates or sliding seat fasteners.
These are meant to accommodate the most common range of bolt hole widths. In the US and Canada, bolt hole width is standardized to 5.5” or around 14 cm.
But, for apartments with ultra-modern bathrooms, toilets can often have strange dimensions. For example, I’ve seen some fancy toilets with bolt hole widths approaching 10 inches.
For attachments, mounting hardware usually isn’t an issue, because you typically reuse the same nuts and bolts holding the existing toilet seat down. Both the nuts and bolts are typically plastic (even for porcelain toilets).
Skirted toilets often have top-mounting bolts. In either case, the bolts will need to be long enough to clear both the attachment and the hinge on the toilet seat which usually isn’t a problem.
Warm Water Connections
Some attachments are warm water capable. If you have one of these, hopefully, your apartment has a pedestal sink.
The warm water connection for non-electric bidets can be problematic for renters because installing them correctly often requires permanent modification of the bathroom.
To get warm water without electricity, non-electric warm water bidets come with an extra hose and T-connector. The second hose is extra-long (usually 9-10 feet) and the additional T-connector is 3/8”. The bigger T-connector is meant to be attached to the warm water shutoff valve beneath the bathroom sink.
This setup is great if the bathroom in your apartment has a pedestal sink, but if the sink has a vanity, the cabinetry has to be drilled into—like you’d drill into an entertainment center when routing cables to the nearest sockets.
Also, whether you have a vanity or not, the sink and toilet must be no more than 9-10′ (the length of the hose) and it’s best if they’re on the same side of the room.
A 90-degree angle is fine (yet awkward) but if they’re on opposite walls, it makes the connection impossible because the hose would remain draped across the floor forming a tripping hazard.
Folks in this situation have a couple of options:
- Drill a small hole and fill it with caulk and paint over it when you move out. Wood putty is a great fix and most use it in their homes to fill other holes caused by living.
- Drill the small hole and hope your landlord doesn’t notice. The warm water hose that comes with bidet attachments is small–about half the size of the cold-water bidet supply hose–and should only require one small hole to be drilled. For example, the warm water hose on my LUXE 320 is 1/4″ by 8 mm. If it is noticed, it’ll probably be covered in the fee you end up paying upon moving out (for other dings and dents incurred during your stay).
- You can run the hose through the front of the vanity. As in through the cabinet door. It’s an eyesore but it can be done.
- Just forego the hot water for now. “Cold” water bidets are among the most popular. You don’t need warm water to get a thorough cleanse that’s 100 x better than what you get with toilet paper.
Bidet seats of all kinds are installed with mounting brackets. That way the bidet can be easily removed and attached for cleaning and maintenance. Some have a sliding bracket and others are fixed but have extra-large holes to accommodate different bolt hole widths.
Bidet seats come with their own plastic mounting hardware like the kind that holds the seat and lid down on most 2-piece toilets. In my experience, it’s usually anchor bolts (bolts that thread into sleeves) or mounting bolts with barrel nuts.
If your toilet doesn’t provide access to the underside of the bolt holes, then the mounting hardware that came with your bidet won’t work. If that’s the case, your toilet probably has top-mounting bolts.
If the existing bolts are compatible with the mounting bracket, you can go ahead and use them. If not, you’ll need to get new top mounting gear.
Most non-electric bidet seats have extra parts for warm water. If you have a non-electric seat, see the section above on warm water bidet attachments.
Step 12: Connect the Bidet Hose
For bidet seats and attachments, it’s time to connect the bidet hose. Connect one end to the last remaining open port on the T-connector and the other to the water inlet on the bidet.
For non-electric seats and some attachments, there two ports. If not using the second hose (warm water hook up), then make sure the unused port is plugged.
Step 14: Store the Original Parts
The Original Toilet Seats
I wrapped my seat in a large towel and stored it in the closet.
I usually put mine back on the toilet seat hinges and store it with the seat.
Step 15: Review Connections and Test it Out
Give everything a once over to make sure the connections look good and are sufficiently tight. Make sure there aren’t any O-rings laying around. Otherwise, when you go to turn the shutoff valve on, water will get everywhere.
- Turn the shutoff valve counterclockwise.
- Open the T-valve. A lot of T-connectors have adjustable valves. If yours does, make sure it’s open.
- Wait for the tank to fill. This may take couple of minutes.
- When full, give it a flush and watch for leaks. Check the entire pathway from the valve to the toilet and bidet for any water seeping out.
- Test your bidet. Let it run for a session. Catch the water in the cup or, if you’re brave, pop a squat and test it out.
If you have a bidet seat, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for powering the seat up for the first time.