How to Replace Toilet Mounting Bolts Fast!
Last Updated on January 7, 2022 by toilethaven
What are toilet anchor bolts?
Toilet anchor bolts are the two bolts on each side of the toilet bowl that are used to secure the toilet to the floor. Depending on your toilet, toilet bolts are installed 10, 12 or 14 inches from the rear finished wall of the toilet. This is called the rough-in measurement.
Toilet bolts are hooked on the toilet flange and tightened around the base of the toilet bowl using nuts and washers. This helps to strongly anchor the toilet on the floor and also compress the wax ring between the flange and the bottom of the toilet to create a watertight and airtight seal.
After a period of time, toilet bolts become corroded or loose and cannot anchor the toilet bowl like before, making it to start wobbling/rocking. In this case you will need to replace the toilet bolts. This is an inexpensive repair and you can comfortably do it on your own.
To replace a toilet mounting bolts you will first need to turn off water to the toilet then drain the tank and the bowl. Loosen the bolt nuts with a wrench or cut them off if they are corroded. Rock the toilet about then lift it off and lay it on its side. Replace the bolts and the wax ring then install the toilet back.
Sometimes the toilet bowls are covered using color-matched plastic caps. Use a screw driver to pry them off.
- New wax ring/ rubber seal
- Toilet bolts, nuts and washers
- Adjustable wrench
- Old rug/towel
- Empty bucket
- Putty knife
- Rubber gloves
How to Replace Toilet Anchor Bolts
Your toilet will either be a one-piece toilet or a two-piece toilet. One-piece toilets have the tank and the bowl made as one body while in a two-piece toilet the bowl and the tank are two pieces joint together with bolts.
While removing the one-piece toilet, you have no alternative but to remove in one go. For a two-piece toilet on the other hand you can decide to remove the tank the then bowl later. This is a safer option especially if you are working alone.
Replacing toilet bolts involves the following 6 steps:
Step 1: Turn off Water to the Toilet
- Locate the toilet shut off valve on the rear wall of the toilet and turn it clockwise. If you have the push/pull type of valve pull the handle out.
- Flush the toilet and hold the flush handle down to remove as much water as possible.
- Remove the toilet tank lid and place it in a safe place where it cannot crack.
- At the bottom of the toilet tank there is some water left. Use a sponge to soak it and squeeze into the bucket.
- Use the same sponge to remove the water at the bottom of the toilet bowl. It is important to remove this water now, otherwise it well spill all over your bathroom when you remove the toilet.
- Locate the water supply line. This is a braided line that is connected from the shut off valve to the toilet tank. Disconnect it from the toilet tank.
Step 2: How to Remove a Toilet
- Look for the toilet bolts on each side of the toilet bowl.
- Use an adjustable wrench to loosen the nuts on the bolts.
- If the bolts and nuts are rusted or are spinning and won’t come off, use a mini hacksaw to cut the nuts off being careful not to cut the toilet.
- Hold the toilet by the bowl and rock it from side to side to break the wax ring seal.
- When the toilet is free, lift it off and place it on its side on the newspapers.
- Plug off the drain pipe with the old rag/towel to prevent sewer gases from coming up into the house.
Step 3: Replace the Toilet Bolts
- Remove the old toilet bolts and trash them.
- Use the putty knife to scrape off old wax from the top of the toilet flange and toilet outlet.
- Check the condition of the toilet flange to see if it is broken or loose. A loose flange should be tightened with a screwdriver but if it is broken you should replace it.
- When the flange is clean and tight, put in the toilet bolts through the wide slots on the flange and then slide them to the narrow slots.
- Put a washer on top of each bolt which will sit on top of the flange.
Step 4: Replace the Wax Ring.
- Slide the new wax ring on the toilet outlet gently to avoid deforming it. Remember you should always use a new wax ring. Wax rings are not reusable.
- If you decide to use a rubber gasket seal, just place it on top of the toilet flange. Most rubber seals have 2 holes on opposite sides that help it to be held in place by the toilet bolts.
Step 5: Install the Toilet
- Remove the old rag from the drainpipe
- Lift the toilet and bring it slightly above the toilet bolts and flange.
- Align the holes at the base of the toilet with the toilet bolts and then bring the toilet down gently. Toilets can weigh up to 120 pounds and if you can have someone to help you with the alignment then your work would be much easier and safe.
- Hold the toilet bowl on both sides with your hands and rock it a little to fully engage the wax ring.
- Slot in a washer on each bolt followed by a nut. Use the wrench to tighten the bolts. The best way to do this is tightening alternatingly to make sure your toilet is level. Do not however tighten the bolts too much as this can crack the toilet bowl
- Hold the toilet by the bowl and try to rock. If it is not rocking/wobbling then it is good to go. If it rocks a little give each nut one more 1/4 turn.
- If the toilet bolts are protruding high up use a mini hacksaw to trim them.
- For aesthetic reasons, cover the toilet bolts with a plastic cap matching the color of the toilet.
Step 6: Reconnect the Water Supply
- Connect the water supply line back to the toilet tank. The coupling to the toilet tank is supposed to be hand tight and you should not use a wrench on it.
- Open the shut off valve and let the water fill the tank.
- Flush the toilet a couple of times to make sure the wax ring is not leaking. To do this look at the base of the toilet and confirm it remains dry.
- Put the toilet tank lid back on.
And that is how to replace toilet bolts. In case you have a two-piece toilet and you would want to remove the toilet tank and then the bowl, you can learn how to remove a toilet tank here. During installation learn also how to install a toilet tank, toilet tank bolts and spud washer here.
- How much should you tighten toilet bolts?
This is always tricky. If you don’t tighten the toilet bolts enough you will end with a wobbly toilet which will start leaking in time. If you overtighten you risk cracking the toilet bowl. The best way to tighten toilet bolts is to initially hand tight them until snug, then use the wrench to give each nut a ¼ turn. Sit on the bowl and try to rock it. If it feels tight then it is good. If it wobbles a little give each nut another ¼ turn. Using rubber/plastic washers also helps to absorb the shock and prevent the porcelain from cracking.
- How far apart are toilet bolts?
Toilet bolts are installed on the toilet flange on opposite sides. The toilet flanges are standard and therefore you can use any flange to install any toilet. The only distance you should pay attention to is the distance between the toilet bolts and the rear finished wall. It will either be 10, 12 or 13 inches.
- Why do toilet bolts rust?
In order for rusting to occur, water and oxygen have to be present. Water and oxygen are in plenty in the bathroom. This is why toilet bolt tanks start to rust after some time.
- Toilet bolts won’t tighten. How can I fix that?
Sometimes when you try to tighten the toilet bolts they can start spinning which means you can’t tighten them. Here is what to do:
Hold the top of the bolt with a vice grip or pliers with your left hand. Use your right hand to tighten the nut with an adjustable wrench.
- What size are toilet bolts?
Toilet bolts are either ¼ or 5/16 in diameter and 2-1/4 or 4 inch long.