man reseating toilet - wobbly toilet

Struggling with a Wobbly Toilet? Here’s How to Reseat it!

Let’s face it, the toilet is your sanctuary for escaping the rigors of the day. And it’s the place where you conduct your most important personal business.

So, a wobbly toilet that kills your vibe just won’t do. Besides, it could also mean your commode is about to experience a leak that damages the floor beneath it.

It’s time to reseat your toilet.

Why Does My Toilet Wobble?

This question gets at the heart of why we’ll be reseating the toilet when it rocks.

Under the toilet are a wax gasket and a flange. The wax gasket is attached to the bottom of the toilet and the flange is attached to the drain in the floor. When these parts are connected to each other, they provide the toilet with a sturdy seal that prevents rocking and leaking.

When these parts loosen for any reason, the toilet begins wobbling.

how to replace a toilet wax ring - diagram

How to Fix a Wobbly Toilet by Reseating it

To discover and fix the problem, you need to remove the toilet and reseat it. Keep in mind, this job could take a few hours you’re an absolute beginner. However, someone with more DIY plumbing experience should be able to pull it off more quickly.

Here are the step-by-step instructions:

1. Remove the Hold-down Bolts

Begin repairing the wobbly toilet by turning off the water supply. You can find the water shut-off valve on the wall below the toilet tank. Remove the tank lid and lay it aside. Flush the tank while holding down the handle to remove as much water as possible. Sponge out any remaining water from the tank and bowl.

Loosen the water supply tube coupling nuts with an adjustable wrench. Push aside the tube to avoid kinking it. Remove any caps on the hold-down bolts at the base of the toilet. Remove the nuts under the caps with a socket wrench or box wrench. If they don’t budge, cut through them with a hacksaw.

Remove nut on hold-down bolts - wobbly toilet
The hold-down bolt is exactly what it sounds like: it holds the toilet to the floor. In order to lift the toilet off the floor, you’ll need to remove the nut on the hold-down bolt.

2. Lift and Remove the Wobbly Toilet

Standing over the bowl, twist and rock it to break its seal. Lift the toilet straight up and off the hold-down bolts. Let the water from the trap run into a pan or bucket. Porcelain can break easily. So, gently lay the toilet on its side on a pad of newspapers or old blanket.

Cover the drain hole on the floor to prevent loose parts from falling into it. This will also prevent sewer gasses from entering your home.

Lifting toilet off floor - reseating a wobbly toilet
Bend your knees when lifting the toilet off the floor. Make sure to lift straight up. Doing this with a helper is recommended.

3. Remove the Old Seal

Use a putty knife to scrape off the old wax seal (also called a wax ring) from around the toilet opening and flange. Do not reuse this seal but keep some of it to pack around the hold-down bolts before reseating the toilet.

While you’re removing the old seal, it wouldn’t hurt to check the hole opening for any clogs. Wearing rubber gloves, reach up inside the toilet and clean out any obstructions. Or use an auger or clothes hanger instead of your hand if you’re squeamish.

remove wax with putty knife - reseating a wobbly toilet
Remove the old wax from the flange (and everywhere else you see it). Make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned before you move ahead. Also, to keep sewer gases from coming into the house, cover the drain hole or stuff an old rag into it while you’re working.

4. Replace the Hold-down Bolts

Mark the exact distance of both hold-down bolts from the wall. Remove the bolts by sliding them out from the floor flange. Older toilets may have two additional bolts in front that screw into the floor. Remove these with slip-joint pliers or saw them off with a hacksaw.

Coat the new hold-down bolts with petroleum jelly to make future removals easier, then slide them into position. Make sure that are parallel and in the same position as the old bolts. Pack some old wax or plumber’s putty around the base of each bolt to hold it in place while reseating the toilet.

replace hold-down bolts if necessary - fix wobbly toilet
If the toilet hold-down bolts are bent, corroded, or damaged in any way, you will need to replace them with a new pair.

5. Replace the Wax Gasket

Place the new wax gasket over the drain opening. Make sure its beveled side is up. For a 4-inch drain, you can install a gasket with a plastic sleeve that extends down into the drains and seals any cracks in the closet bend.

Install it with the plastic sleeve facing away from the bowl. Then knead some plumber’s putty into a thin rope about 1/4-inch in diameter. Place the putty around the toilet rim or apply silicone sealant after you have reseated the wobbly toilet on its flange.

how to replace a toilet wax ring - toilet wax ring

6. Reseat the Toilet

Lower the toilet bowl gently over the hold-down bolts. Press down firmly, then sit on the bowl. Twist and rock the seat to spread the wax evenly.

Position new washers and nuts over the hold-down bolts. Use your adjustable wrench to tighten it with a one-quarter turn. Scrape away any excess putty, then pour several buckets of water into e bowl to test for leaks. If you have leaks, pull up the toilet and reseat it again (with a new wax gasket if necessary).

Place your caps on the hold-down bolts. If the bolts are sticking up too high for your taste (or the caps), you can trim them down with a hacksaw. Finally, reconnect the water supply tube, slowly turn on the water, and flush again to check for leaks.

tighten hold-down bolts on toilet - wobbly toilet repair
Whether you continue using the old bolts or a new set of bolts, tighten the nut back onto them at the end of the project. Then replace the caps on top of the bolts.

Final Thoughts

Congratulations. You’ve successfully repaired a wobbly toilet and reseated it.

We’re sure it wasn’t without effort as this job isn’t for most beginners. But, we promise, for those of you who take this on, your next visit to the bathroom will be incredibly satisfying (and distraction-free!).


Call 1-Tom-Plumber

Don’t hesitate to contact us here or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237) if you need help reseating a wobbly toilet or repairing a toilet leak.

1-Tom-Plumber’s certified team of plumbers and drain technicians respond immediately to any emergency plumbing, drain cleaning, or water damage problem. We also handle the excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines. Our immediate-response team is available every day and night of the year, even on holidays.

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