How to Replace Toilet Bolts? [Mounting & Flange Bolts]

If you are like most people, you probably don’t give much thought to the toilet bolts until they start to leak or come loose.

But, when it comes time to replace them, it can be a little daunting.

a replaced toilet bolt

In this blog post, we will walk you through the process of how to replace toilet bolts.

So, stay tuned!

How to Replace Toilet Bolts?

If your toilet flange bolts are rusted or broken, you will need to follow the steps below to replace them with new ones-

Gathering Supplies

Before you begin the process, here are the tools & supplies that you need to gather in the worksite-

  • Wrench
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Replacement bolts & nuts
  • Replacement wax seal (if the toilet is leaking)
  • Gloves

Step 1: Turn Off Water to The Toilet Tank

Although our focus is on the toilet bowl, the toilet tank needs to be removed before moving the bowl.

disconnect the water supply

The toilet tank rests on the bowl and may fall off or get damaged while moving the bowl. To prevent this, you need to remove the tank.

The first step is to turn off the water supply to the tank by turning the shut-off valve clockwise. For a push/pull valve, pull it to shut off the water.  

Step 2: Flush the Toilet

The next step is to flush the toilet. This will clean the toilet bowl and also drain the toilet tank.

You can’t disconnect the tank with water in it and you wouldn’t want to work on a dirty toilet bowl.

Hold down the flush lever (or flush button) to flush the toilet and drain the water in the tank.

Carefully remove the tank lid and place it somewhere safe. If your toilet uses a flush button, carefully disconnect the duct that connects to the button on the flush valve.

Use a sponge to take out any water remaining in the tank.

Note: If you have a one-piece toilet, you can skip steps 3 and 4.

Step 3: Disconnect the Toilet Tank

Disconnect the water supply pipe (usually a rubber hose) from the toilet tank. The rubber hose is firmly attached to the tank using a big plastic screw.

Turn the screw anticlockwise to loosen it, this will disconnect the rubber hose from the toilet tank. If turning the screw with your hand seems difficult, use a wrench to gently turn it.

Remember to place a bucket under the hose while disconnecting it to catch any water in the hose.

Inside the tank and around the flush valve drain, there are two or three bolts. These bolts hold the tank firmly to the bowl to prevent shifting.

remove the bolts from the tank

Use a wrench or screwdriver (whichever is applicable) to remove these bolts. If it seems difficult to turn the bolts, use a wrench to loosen the complementing nuts under the toilet bowl.

Sometimes, you may need to hold down the nuts with a wrench while turning the bolts on the other side for perfect grip.

Apply some effort and penetrating oil if necessary. In the worst case when rusted bolts don’t buzz, cut off the bolts and nuts with a hacksaw blade.

Step 4: Take Off the Toilet Tank

After removing the bolts and nuts, gently lift up the tank with both hands to remove it.

Carefully lift it up straight to avoid damaging the flush valve inside the tank. Keep the tank somewhere safe.

It’s best to lay some cushioning cloth or towel on the floor to place the tank. It will eliminate any risk of damage to the delicate surface.

Step 5: Disconnect the Toilet Bowl

Now, the toilet bowl is on its own but still fixed to the ground. Before disconnecting the bowl, remove all the water in the toilet bowl using a sponge or plunger.

This is very important, else the water will spill all over the toilet floor when you lift the bowl. You won’t like that experience for sure!

On either side of the toilet bowl, you should see the toilet bolts holding the bowl to the ground.

toilet anchor bolts removal with pliers

Sometimes, the toilet bolts are covered with plastic caps for aesthetic reasons. So, look carefully for them.

These bolts are usually inverted. This means you can only loosen the nuts to disconnect the bowl.

Using a wrench, loosen the nuts on the bolts. If the nuts seem difficult to turn, add penetrating oil and apply effort.

If they are turning together due to rust, you may need to cut them off with a hacksaw. Once you’ve loosened or cut off the nuts, it’s time to disconnect the bowl.

Grab the toilet bowl and slightly turn it from side to side to break off the wax ring seal.

Once you feel that the bowl is free, lift it off the bolts (you may need extra hands). Lay the bowl on its side to let go of the water in the internal P-trap.

removing a toilet

To prevent sewer gases from escaping into your home, block off the drain pipe with any suitable material.

Step 6: Repair the Toilet Flange

Slide the old toilet bolts out along the grooves on either side of the toilet flange. You may need the old bolts to purchase new bolts of the same size and model. Otherwise, trash them.

toilet flange with two bolts

Gently remove the remains of old wax from the top of the toilet flange using a putty knife. Check if the grooves are broken or rusted. Check the flange also.

If the toilet flange is loose, tighten it with a screwdriver but if it’s broken, consider a replacement.

Step 7: Replace the Toilet Bolts

Once the flange is repaired or replaced, slide in the new toilet bolts through the groove until they lock-in.

Step 8: Replace the Wax Ring

Gently slide a new wax ring into the toilet outlet – wax rings aren’t reusable. The tapered end goes into the toilet outlet.

replaced toilet wax ring

Does your toilet use a rubber gasket seal instead of a wax ring?

Simply place the rubber gasket seal on top of the toilet flange to match the holes for the toilet bolts.  

Step 9: Reconnect the Toilet Bowl

Remove anything you’ve used to block off the drain pipe. Lift up the bowl upright (you may need extra hands), and place it gently over the flange.

Make sure that the bolts align with the holes at the base of the toilet bowl.

Once the bowl is in place, press it down gently to compress the wax ring. Place the cap holders and washers on the bolts and tighten the nuts hard with your hand.

Carefully tighten the nuts further in an alternate manner using a wrench. Don’t over-tighten the nuts to avoid cracking the bowl.

After tightening the nuts, try to slightly turn the bowl. If it wobbles, give the nuts more tightening.

Otherwise, you’re good to go. Cover the end of the bolts with a plastic cap.

If the bolts extend higher than the caps, trim them with a hacksaw until they’re an inch above the nuts.

Step 10: Reconnect the Toilet Tank and Water Supply

You have successfully replaced your toilet bolts. The last step involves reconnecting the toilet tank and turning on the water supply to the tank.

Carefully place the toilet tank on the bowl and secure it with the bolts and nuts.

Make sure that the tank-to-bowl gasket fits perfectly to the flapper valve. Place the tank lid back on.

Reconnect the rubber hose and turn on the water valve to fill the toilet tank with water. Flush your toilet several times and check for leaks, especially from the tank-to-bowl gasket and wax ring.

If there is no leak, you have successfully replaced your toilet bolts.

For a better understanding of how to replace toilet bolts, here is an instructional video to guide you –

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I remove old rusted toilet bolts?

There are a few ways that you can remove old rusted toilet bolts. You can use a hacksaw to cut through the bolt, or you can use a power drill to bore out the center of the bolt.

You can also try using a pair of pliers to twist the bolt out. If the bolt is really stuck, you may need to use a chisel to break it free.

One important thing to keep in mind is that the toilet is made of delicate materials. So, you must be cautious while applying any of the unorthodox methods for breaking open the rusted bolts.

Once the old toilet bolts are removed, you’ll need to install new ones. To do this, simply thread the new bolts into the holes where the old ones were located.

Tighten them down with a wrench, and then replace the washers and nuts. Be sure to snug them up tightly so that they don’t come loose.

What are the bolts that hold down the toilet called?

Toilet bolts are typically called anchor bolts or closet bolts, and they help to keep the toilet securely in place.

The number and type of bolts used will vary depending on the make and model of the toilet, but they are typically made from metal.

In some cases, wing nuts may be used instead of traditional bolts, which can make it easier to remove the toilet for cleaning or repairs.

Why do toilet anchor bolts rust?

Toilet anchor bolts are typically made of metal, which is susceptible to rusting when exposed to moisture.

Over time, the moisture can cause the metal to corrode and break down, eventually leading to the bolts becoming loose and falling out.

In some cases, the entire toilet bowl can become dislodged from the floor if the anchor bolts are not replaced in time.

Are toilet bowl bolts universal?

There’s no such thing as a “universal” toilet bowl bolt since there are so many different types and sizes of toilets.

However, most hardware stores will have a variety of toilet bolts that should fit most standard toilets.

If you’re unsure which size or type of bolt you need, it’s always best to bring the old ones with you to the store so that you can find an exact match.

Can I reuse toilet bolts?

Yes, you can reuse toilet bolts. Just make sure to clean them thoroughly before doing so.

Plus, you must ensure that the bolts are not rusted. Using rusted bolts is a bad idea.

Why is my toilet leaking from the bolts?

There are a few reasons why your toilet may be leaking from the bolts. One reason could be that the wax ring seal around the base of the toilet is damaged or not seated properly. Another reason could be that the bolts themselves are loose and need to be tightened.

Whatever may be the case, you can perform the steps we have outlined above to remove the toilet bolts and check the issue yourself.

If it’s the wax ring seal, replace it. If the bolts are loose, simply tighten them so that they are snug.

How is a toilet anchored to the floor?

Most toilets are anchored to the floor by two bolts that extend from the base of the toilet into the floor.

The bolts are usually covered by a metal or plastic cap. In some cases, the toilet may be held in place by a single bolt in the center of the base.

To remove the toilet, you will need to remove these caps and loosen the bolts. You will also need to disconnect the water supply line from the back of the toilet before it can be removed.

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