Learn how to safely and properly fix a wobbly toilet.

How to Fix a Wobbly Toilet

This toilet recently developed a mysterious wobble, and appears to have shifted from its original location. To find out what's wrong, the toilet will need to be removed. Things can get tricky down there, so we've got Mike on the case!

You'll notice that we don't use any fancy specialty plumbing tools in this video - we wanted to show how common tools most homeowners already own can often be used to fix toilet problems.



To begin, turn off the toilet's water supply. Remove the tank lid, and flush the toilet. Any water that remains in the tank can be wet-vacced out (if you're lucky enough to have one), or soaked up with a towel. Grab a bucket to put underneath the water supply at the bottom of the tank, and unscrew the supply.

Next comes the removal of the tank from the bowl. A screwdriver holds the top of the bolt from inside the tank, while a crescent wrench is used underneath to loosen it. Repeat for the bolt on the other side, and lift off the tank. Once the tank is off, remove any water from the bowl. Remove the bolt caps and bolts from the base of the bowl, and lift it straight up and off the floor.

Removing the wax ring reveals the flange, which happens to be the cause of this toilet's wobbling. The bottom of the toilet flange should be set on top of the floor, not below as it is here. Because of the incorrect placement, when the toilet flushes, water goes where it isn't supposed to.

When a flange is installed below floor-level, it's not uncommon to have rusted bolts. Each time the toilet was flushed, wastewater came into contact with the bolts, causing them to corrode. Had the flange been installed correctly, this would not have happened (unless there was a stoppage that caused a back-up).

If you have a similar problem, use a mini-hacksaw to cut and remove the bolts (which can be replaced). Because the original flange is still in good condition and solidly in place, there's no reason to remove it. Instead, spacers and a new extender flange will be added.

Extra-long 3-1/2" bolts are needed to install onto the old flange in order to accommodate the spacer, gaskets, and new extender flange. Once the bolts are in, a new gasket is set over the original flange, which will seal against anything that might come up between the spacer and flange. The spacer brings us even to the top of the floor, and another gasket is positioned on top of it to keep leaks from going under the floor. After the new extender flange is correctly placed over the gaskets and spacer, we move our attention to the bowl.

Because we had to take out the old wax ring to access the flange, a new one is needed. Wax rings are placed directly around the horn on the underside of the bowl, pressed to fit, and the bowl is set atop the new flange. Once everything is lined up, the ring, washer and nut for the closet bolts are installed. With the nuts, hand-tighten until snug, then use your wrench to give alternating turns to each side until the unit is tightly in place. If the new bolts are too long for your bolt caps, the problem is once again easily resolved with a mini-hacksaw. Reattach the tank, and the toilet is ready to go!


Find the supplies we used in the video below!


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