How To Fix A Wobbly Toilet In Five Easy Ways 

How To Fix A Wobbly Toilet In Five Easy Ways

Anthony Barnes

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Do you wake up in the middle of the night refusing to put on the lights, squinting and fumbling your way to the bathroom because you just don’t want to ‘fully’ wake yourself up?

You’re cursing and swearing at yourself for having that beer before bed, when finally, you stumble across the toilet.

You step in a pool of water on the floor and realise it’s finally happened. Your wobbly toilet problem has worsened.

What you could have done, and I’m sure you’re now wishing you did, was fix the toilet seat when it was wobbly, before your small problem turned into a big one.

But we all know that fixing a wobbly toilet might not be at the top of your to do list. 

If you’re reading this and it’s not yet too late for you, I urge you to read on to find out 5 easy ways to fix a toilet seat.

After all, the toilet is a big part of our everyday lives and needs to be looked after.

What Causes A Toilet To Wobble? 

While a wobbly toilet can feel like a big problem, it is usually caused by a simple issue.

Understandably, it is not an issue that you want to spend your Saturday fixing, but if you’ve been putting it off, I suggest you bite the bullet and get it fixed! Just think about how impressed your family will be when you’ve finally fixed it.

The most common causes are:

  • Loose toilet bolts. These bolts are on either side of the toilet bowl and attach the toilet to the floor. 
  • Toilet flange is too high off the floor. This is the pipe fitting, connecting the toilet bowl to the drainpipe.
  • Weak flooring below 
  • Uneven flooring below

So, let’s get stuck into fixing our wobbly toilet! 

Before we begin working on our wobbly toilet, it is important to have a basic understanding of how a toilet works.

The toilet consists of two main parts, the toilet tank and the toilet bowl.

The bowl is the section of the toilet that sits on the floor, which includes a discharge throat at the bottom which allows the waste to be flushed away.

The tank sits on top of the toilet bowl and it holds the water that comes out when you pull the flush.

The water pushes the waste through the trap and falls into the drain on the other side. 

Tighten The Toilet Bolts 

The first thing to try when your toilet seat is wobbling, is to tighten the toilet bolts.

This is a simple and easy fix which could be the cause of your problem! Loose toilet bolts are a common cause of a wobbly toilet.

To locate the toilet bolts, look on each side of the toilet. These bolts could have become loose for many reasons.

Sometimes, if the flush is deformed it affects the bolts. Often, these bolts are covered by plastic caps that blend in with the colour of the toilet for a more sleek look. In order to tighten the toilet bolts, follow these steps: 

  • Remove the caps with a flathead screwdriver.
  • Check if the bolts feel loose.
  • Even if they feel tight to touch, try to tighten them further using a wrench. 

Be careful: 

  • Don’t tighten the bolts too much as this can crack the toilet bowl. 

Fix An Uneven Floor

If your wobbly toilet seat is caused by an uneven floor, you may need to adjust it so that the toilet is sitting on an uneven surface. If this happens, you may want to shim it. 

First, you need to pinpoint the gaps in the bathroom flooring. These gaps will be between the toilet and the floor and will cause the toilet to rock.

Have a look at the space around the bowl and examine whether there is a big enough gap around the toilet to cause it to rock.

If there are any gaps that allow movement when you push it, you need to get rid of them.

How To Fix A Wobbly Toilet In Five Easy Ways

They will cause the toilet to shake. So, now you have determined that your toilet needs to be shimmed, let’s dive into how to do this.

What Is A Shim? 

A shim is a wedge of wood or plastic that is used for adjustments and positioning things before you secure them.

They are often used to wedge windows in place when they are being installed. 

How To Shim A Wobbly Toilet

  • Insert the plastic shims underneath the toilet bowl. The toilet should then be solid on the floor.
  • Trim the ends of the shim with the knife so they cannot be seen. 
  • Next, use a waterproof sealer (such as a caulk) to seal the base of the bowl. 

There are mixed opinions on whether or not to caulk the toilet to the bathroom floor. The shim does two things:

  • Covers the shim, hiding the work that you have done
  • Prevents water leaking

The positives of using caulk are that they prevent water from leaking, and they also cover the shim, hiding the work that you have already done.

However, sometimes, the caulk can hide the leak, meaning that you don’t notice it as soon as it starts.

If you haven’t secured the toilet to the floor using caulk, the early detection of the leak can save larger and very expensive problems down the line.

There are benefits of caulking the toilet to the floor, including prevention of water seeping under the base of the toilet.

If you do decide to caulk the toilet, leave a little gap where the water can drain away if it begins to leak. This will avoid rotting on the floor.

Remember: 

  • Wait for the toilet seat to dry before using the toilet. 
  • Always leave a small gap in the caulk. If your toilet starts to leak, this gap will allow the water to leak out and notify you of the problem sooner.

Check The Toilet For Leaks

The second step is important for deciding where to go from here. Check underneath the toilet to ensure there is no water coming from the toilet.

If there aren’t any puddles on the floor, check for smaller leaks by placing some toilet roll on the floor to see if it soaks up any water.

Replace The Toilet Flange

The flange is often the problem when a toilet rocks back and forth.

If the bolts that hold the flange down have broken this may be the reason that the toilet is wobbly. The flange may also have cracked or broken.

If you identify the flange as the problem, it is quite a difficult toilet part to replace because it is at the base of the toilet.

How To Fix A Wobbly Toilet In Five Easy Ways

This means that you have to take apart the whole toilet in order to replace this toilet part. 

What Is The Flange?

The flange is the device that links the toilet to the floor, linking the drainpipe. The flange is a circular part and it holds the wax ring.

How To Replace The Flange

With the right tools and a bit of perseverance, you can replace the flange yourself without calling out a plumber.

If you haven’t got the confidence to do it though, perhaps it is best to get a plumber in to avoid causing more damage! Follow these steps to replace your flange:

  1. Get your tools together. For this task you’ll likely need a wench, rubber gloves, a screwdriver, a measuring tape, a hacksaw and a putty knife. You will also need the bolts and screws.
  2. Turn off the water supply and disconnect the pipes. This is usually behind the toilet or on the wall behind the toilet. Turn the valve clockwise to ensure the water is no longer running.
  3. Flush the toilet. This removes the rest of the water in your toilet bowl and tank. When you have done this, mop up the rest of the water with a sponge, towel or vacuum. 
  4. Remove the nuts and bolts that hold the toilet to the ground. Usually, there are two on either side of the toilet. Sometimes, these have plastic caps which must be removed first. You might need a hacksaw to get these bolts off.
  5. Remove the toilet. Move the toilet aside and place it on newspapers or rags. Ensure you lift it carefully, lifting it straight up until it is no longer attached to the bolts. 
  6. Cover the outflow pipe. Use a cloth to cover the outflow pipe to avoid a smell. Do this right away.
  7. Inspect the flange. First, clean the toilet and remove the wax ring which is located at the top of the toilet flange. The wax ring secures the link between the flange and the toilet base. You can remove this by using a putty knife. Usually, the wax ring will be deformed, in this case insert a new wax ring into the toilet.  
  8. Remove the flange. Unscrew the bolts that connect the flange to the floor. Usually, there are two screws. Use a screwdriver to remove these. Remove the flange and set it aside on a rag. 
  9. Obtain a new toilet flange. Go to the store to make sure it is the right size for your toilet by measuring your old flange. 
  10. Install the new wax ring and flange. Usually, they come together, however, sometimes you may have to buy the wax ring separately. Put the flange in place and ensure all the bolts and screws are nice and tight! Place the wax ring on the toilet.
  11. Place the toilet back on the flange. Tighten the nuts using a wrench.
  12. Turn on the water supply and reconnect the pipes.
  13. Test the toilet! Pull the flush and make sure there aren’t any leaks, leave a small square of toilet roll next to the toilet to ensure there aren’t any leaks that are hard to see.

This is a very difficult process, and if you come across any problems, you should call a plumber to help you out!

Change The Wax Ring Or Wax Seal

The wax ring that appears in step 7 of the instructions on how to replace the flange may be the problem causing your toilet to wobble.

The wax ring works to prevent water from leaking when the toilet is flushed.

Usually, a wax ring lasts 20 years, however, in some cases this can wear down sooner.

If your wax seal is not working properly, you may see water leaking from the base on top of the wobbly toilet problem.

To rectify this problem, follow the steps above, but instead of removing the flange, just replace the wax ring. Apply wax seal to the drainpipe and position the wax ring on it.

How To Fix A Wobbly Toilet In Five Easy Ways

Other Common Toilet Bowl Problems 

Toilets have a lot of things that can go wrong. There are many levers, floats and seals that can break and cause problems.

However, none of these problems are too complicated, and most can be repaired on your own without having to call in the plumber and spending a bomb! You’ll only need some basic tools.

After you’ve identified the problem, and purchased the new parts, your toilet will be on its way to sparkling and new in no time! So here are some other common toilet problems: 

Running Toilet 

Sometimes, your toilet just won’t stop running. Toilets are designed with a float system which maintains the depth of the water in your tank.

The bottom of the toilet is fitted with a valve which holds the water in until you press the flush.

When you flush, the valve opens and allows the water from the tank down into the bowl.

Sometimes, though, because the valve is made of rubber, it decomposes or warps over time.

This allows water to escape into the bowl even when the flush hasn’t been pressed.

This means the water will keep running until your tank is full, which could be forever if water is seeping through the valve. 

This is easily fixed by replacing the valve. Ensure you buy the correct replacement valve identical to the one that is broken!

Broken Flush Handle 

The flush handles sometimes break as they are used so often. All you need to do if this happens, is replace the flush handle.

Ensure you buy one that matches the old one and fits the toilet well.

Toilet Bowl Leaks

Have you noticed a pool of water at your feet when you’re sitting on the toilet?

Water leaking out onto the floor indicates various problems of varying degrees of complication.

This is often the cause of a warped or broken wax ring, as explored above.

It could also be caused by a crack in the porcelain of the toilet from something hitting or dropping onto it.

When To Call In The Plumber?

Really, deciding when to call the plumber is your call. There is always a risk with toilet related problems that something you do could cause a much larger problem, requiring a bathroom remodelling or a complete cut off of water while you call in an emergency plumber!

So, whether you’ve just taken off the first screw, or if you’ve got to the very last step and you can’t get the toilet to seal properly, it’s never a bad time to give up and talk to a plumber.

You can throw your hands in the air and declare that you tried and let the trusty plumber do their job.

Final Thoughts

The toilet is a very big part of all of our day to day lives. It is the first place we go when we wake up, and the last place we go before we get some shut-eye!

We use and overuse our toilets and, as a result, they are put under a lot of stress and pressure.

A toilet problem can be quite a headache! However, there are not many problems that can’t be fixed with some simple steps and some replacement parts.

If you’re experiencing a wobbly toilet seat, I hope you now have some answers as to why this is and how to troubleshoot the problem. 

So, stop procrastinating and putting off your wobbly toilet problem and use this information to help you to finally fix it!

No doubt you’ll get plenty of brownie points from the family. 

However, it is important to remember that ‘when in doubt, get the plumber out!’ You don’t want to cause more problems than you fix.

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age