How to Fix a Wobbly Toilet: Reasons and Solutions 2022 Guide

If you are facing the issue of a wobbly toilet, there can be more than one reason.

Toilets wobble when they are not properly fastened to the floor. The wobbling is frequently caused by loose toilet bolts, but the flange may also be to blame. It might be rusty, damaged, or overly high. Furthermore, the individual who fitted the toilet may have utilized an overly thick wax ring.

If the wobbling is allowed to continue, it can cause leaks and other major problems. None of these issues are difficult to cure, but if the toilet is wobbly due to soft flooring, the repair becomes more challenging.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution. Here are the simple ways in which you can fix a wobbly toilet. But before that, let’s take a look at the causes.

Why is your Toilet Wobbling

This fast remedy may be precisely what you need if your toilet is shaky or loose but not leaking. A circular toilet flange connects the toilet to the drain pipe beneath the toilet base. If the flange is somewhat higher than the surrounding flooring, the toilet is lifted in the middle and can rock to either side.

This issue might arise over time, for example, if the wax seal becomes defective or if the surrounding floor falls somewhat.

Loose or broken bolt screws

This is perhaps the simplest problem to resolve with a swaying toilet. If a bolt screw at the base of the toilet is loose or broken, it is most likely not properly fastening the toilet base to the floor.

Malfunctioning flange

If the flange beneath the toilet is twisted, fractured, or considerably lifted above the floor’s surface, the toilet’s base may rise in the center and tilt to either side. To replace the flange or even fix it using a flange repair kit, first remove the flange bolts and the toilet from its location.

Damaged wax seal

The wax seal beneath your toilet may weaken or erode over time, causing your toilet to rock. If you see discoloration around the rim of your toilet’s base, it’s most likely due to a faulty wax seal.

Uneven floor

If the bolts, wax seal, and flange are all intact and undamaged, the state of your bathroom floor is most likely to blame for your wobbly toilet. Because of the constant dampness, certain types of flooring, particularly wood, might begin to distort, sink, or rise up at the base of your toilet. This results in an uneven area beneath the base and a gap between the toilet and the floor.

How to Fix a Wobbly Toilet: Tools and Step-by-Step Guide

Tools and Materials You Will Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Utility knife
  • Pliers
  • Wrench
  • Spray lubricant
  • Flange repair kit
  • Wax ring
  • Wooden/Plastic shims
  • Tile grout
  • Tub and tile caulk
  • Paper towels

Step-by-Step Guide

1. Check All the Bolts of Your Toilet

Tightening the two flange bolts, or closet bolts, at the base of the toilet will sometimes fix a wobbly toilet. Take your time with this. Tightening the bolts too tightly might break the toilet’s fragile porcelain, which cannot be repaired. Tighten the toilet bolt nuts using a wrench. If the nuts are difficult to turn, spray lubrication on them. If a bolt twists as you turn the nut, use locking pliers to hold the bolt firmly while you spin the nut.

Using pliers or a tiny wrench, check the flange bolt on either side of the toilet. If a bolt is loose, steadily tighten it until it is snug. Check the other bolt to ensure it is similarly snug, then jiggle the toilet. If it still rocks, shimming the base is necessary.

2. Still Wobbling? Remove the Bolts

Don’t overtighten the nuts or you’ll break the toilet. If the toilet continues to wobble, loosen the nuts and remove them. Shut the water off to the toilet. Empty the toilet tank and the bowl. Use a sponge and a bucket to remove the remaining water.

Before you begin, turn off the toilet cutoff valve, detach the supply pipe with adjustable pliers, and flush the tank. Remove the bolt cap covers, nuts, and washers from the closet bolts on both sides. Lift the toilet away from the flange once the nuts have been removed. Carefully remove the toilet and place it on the drop cloth.

3. Maybe it’s a Faulty Wax Ring! Look for Leaks

Make sure your toilet isn’t leaking. Examine the toilet’s base carefully for water. You can proceed with the repair if there is no water present. If there are symptoms of leakage around the base, it is most likely due to the wax ring that seals the toilet horn to the toilet flange becoming old and compacted. You must remove the toilet and replace the wax ring in this scenario. Examine the subfloor for evidence of leaks.

Test the floor surrounding the flange opening if you notice any. You must fix it before resetting the toilet if it is soft or spongy. This will most likely entail using a reciprocating saw to cut out the damaged piece of the floor, fixing any rotting floor joists, and installing a new section of the subfloor. Check the wax ring for deformities. This could be the cause of the wobbly toilet.

If the flooring seems dry, use a putty knife to remove the wax from the flange. Examine the flange ring. If it’s rusted or broken, a repair kit can help you fix it. If it’s more than 1/2 inch off the floor, you’ll probably need to shim it to keep it from rocking.

4. Locate the Gaps

Check the floor for level. Examine the toilet’s base for any gaps between the toilet and the floor. Rocking the toilet from side to side may assist. A tiny space might be the root of the issue. If the gaps are too small to notice, slide a shim under the base to check how far it will go in.

Use a repair ring or a repair plate to replace a damaged flange. Place a ring on top of the damaged ring, adjust it so that the tracks in both rings line up, and attach it to the subfloor with 1 1/2-inch or longer screws. To use a repair plate, use a screwdriver to remove the old flange, then slip the plate under the damaged area, line up the holes, and reattach the screws.

5. Level the toilet with the floor

Insert shims into any gaps you’ve noticed to level and settle the toilet. To correctly level the toilet, you may need to test them in a few different positions. Check the toilet for stability while working by sitting on the seat and swaying in all directions. Rep until the toilet stops moving in any direction.

If the flange is too high, shim the toilet using wooden shims. Tile grout should be used to fill the area between the bottom of the toilet and the floor. When the grout has hardened, remove the shims and fill the gaps with grout to finish the repair.

6. Insert the Shims and Remove the excess

Put shims underneath the toilet until it is level. Hook the toilet bolts into the two tracks on either side of the flange and space them apart. Trim the shims close to the toilet’s base if needed with a sharp utility knife. Take care not to damage the flooring. Cover the bolts with the caps.

7. Cover up your work to give it a finishing look

To conceal the gap along the floor and disguise the shims, apply a thin, uniform bead of caulk around the base of the toilet. Smooth the caulk with your finger as needed, wiping it clean with a paper towel or rag as needed. Before using the toilet, allow the caulk to cure as suggested. Your toilet should be as good as new after it has dried completely. Reconnect the water line and turn the water back on.

Put the toilet back on the closet bolts. Drop the toilet and push down on the bowl to compress the wax after placing a wax ring on the flange opening. Using a tool, tighten the toilet bolts. After the bolts are tightened and the toilet is steady, connect the water supply and turn it on.

If the Toilet Doesn’t Stop Wobbling

If tightening the flange bolts or shimming the toilet base doesn’t stop the rocking, there might be more serious issues down below. A metal or plastic ring at the top of the toilet flange holds the flange bolts that fasten the toilet base. The ring can rust or shatter, causing it to lose its hold on the bolts.

If the rocking returns after a time, or if the bolts loosen and won’t retighten, a damaged flange is most likely to blame. The remedy is to remove the toilet and either replace or fix the existing flange with a flange repair kit.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you stabilize a wobbly toilet?

It depends on the reason your toilet is rocking. Most of the time it is not properly bolted to the floor. It can also be that the toilet is not level with the floor. I have mentioned each reason possible and how to fix it in this article.

The straightforward way is to tighten the bolts. If the toilet still does not stop rocking, look for leaks. Replace the wax ring if it is outdated.

What causes a toilet to wobble?

There are many reasons that cause a toilet to wobble. But the primary cause is when it is not fastened properly and there is room for rocking. It can also be that the floor is uneven or not level with the toilet. In that case, you can insert shims so that the toilet stops rocking.

A faulty wax ring or a malfunctioning flange can also cause a toilet to wobble. Most of these issue can be solved without the help of a plumber.

Should I caulk around my toilet?

Yes, you should. Caulking around the toilet protects the wax from external impact. It ensures that your toilet stays level with the floor and does not wobble. When you caulk around your toilet you avoid any chance of injury to the wax and the toilet.

How tight should the bolts on a toilet be?

This is a very important thing that you should keep in mind. Never overtighten the bolts. A toilet can bear heavy weights but it is not designed to bear the strain of an overtightened bolt. When you tighten the bolts, hand-tightening and a quarter-turn should do.

How much does it cost to fix a wobbly toilet?

It all depends on why the toilet is unstable. The most crucial component, a wax ring, costs roughly $5. For $15, you can get an all-in-one kit that includes a wax/rubber ring with a flange and a couple of bolts with washers and nuts.

This is far less expensive than hiring a plumber; the service begins at $60 and may go up to $150.

Final Words

Toilets typically rock because they are not flush with the floor. When resetting the toilet, use a regular wax ring. If you use an enormous toilet, the toilet may continue to wobble.

Even if the floorboards are not spongy, a moist subfloor might be troublesome. It may not be retaining the flange screws, which might be causing the wobbling. Allowing the floor to cure, sealing the screw holes with epoxy filler, and resetting the flange may be enough to solve the problem.

Small plastic shims with ridges that assist the shims remain in position are ideal for this job. They are frequently found at home improvement stores, hardware stores, and restaurant supply stores. Wood shims are not advised since they can shrink with time and become brittle when exposed to dampness.

A wobbly toilet is a sure sign that something is wrong beneath your toilet’s foundation. It requires immediate attention, whether the cause is a broken flange or seal, loose bolts, or a warped floorboard.

If you put off the work, you risk unpleasant leaks, smells, and even extra damage since the rocking action might shatter your flange or possibly the drain pipe. Err on the side of caution and resolve the issue while it is minor.

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