How to Fix a Wobbly Toilet and Enjoy Real Stability

A toilet is not supposed to be a rocking chair. That’s trivial, but when your seat starts to rock, it’s not the most assistive feeling. Yet if your toilet moves side by side it doesn’t mean it’s possessed by something supernatural: everything is repairable.

How do you stabilize a wobbly toilet?
Cut plastic shims to fit and slip them underneath the toilet to steady it. If there is caulk around the toilet, you may have to remove it before adding the shims. Once the shims are in place, caulk around the toilet and snug down the nuts on the bolts. Be careful not to crank them down too tight, as this can crack the toilet.

Knowing how to fix a wobbly toilet can save you lots of nerves and some money as you won’t have to call a plumber or an exorcist.

Guide on How to Fix a Wobbly Toilet

There are quite a few reasons why a toilet moves side to side, but all of them are localized below the seat. The mission is to learn why exactly the toilet is loose at the base: the reason can be the toilet itself, the floor, the wax ring, or the bolts.

Why does my toilet wobble?

That’s where you should start detecting the issue. The question “why does my toilet wobble?” should indeed sound like “where does my toilet wobble?” The obvious answer is that something is wrong with the foundation. However, the foundation has multiple elements, so there are various reasons for wobbling.

If there is something wrong with the wax ring that the toilet rests on, the result might be the sewage leaking out. Even the smallest leakage can result in unpleasant smells in your bathroom, water, moisture on the floor (especially harmful if the floor is wooden), and further damage to both the toilet and the floor. If it’s the flange, it’s probably corroded or deformed. Finally, the problem can be about the nuts and bolts.

Maybe, the toilet shakes because of the floor being too soft or not exactly flat (this can be measured with a level). It’s fixable too, even if you’re not determined to renovate the entire building. So, let’s take a closer look at how to fix a wobbly toilet on your own.

Step-by-step guide on fixing a wobbly toilet

Let’s assume the problem is in the toilet itself. Its base can loosen with time, nuts unfasten, or the wax ring it sits on can get damaged. Now, do the following:

    1. Find the information about your outflow pipe and the flange. You will have to replace the wax ring anyway, so you better buy it before you start the work.
    2. Cut off the water supply and disconnect the refill hose from the tank.
    3. On the sides of the base, unfasten the two nuts off the bolts.
    4. Raise the toilet and bring it away.
    5. Remove the wax ring from the flange with a putty knife.
    6. Check whether the flange surface is even and sturdy. If so, put the new wax ring on it.
    7. Feed the bolts into the holes of the flange lip, so they are directed straight up. Put aside their nuts and washers.
    8. Position the flange so that the bolts fit the holes on the base of the toilet (it’s usually 3 and 9 o’clock)

toilet flange

  1. Tilt up the toilet and put the wax ring into place, the rounded side over the pipe stub. You can also lay it on the flange and set the toilet right on it, especially if this “wax ring” is indeed a rubber gasket.
  2. Install the toilet so that the bolts fit the holes on the base. Press firmly for the wax ring or the rubber to seal the connection.
  3. Put the washers on it and tighten the nuts on them. You will probably feel how to level a toilet if you have a level on top of the tank which indicates how it stands.
  4. If it stands right, connect the refill hose and turn on the water supply.

I hope now the toilet is rocking no more, and while you might feel bigger on the inside when going in, your toilet doesn’t have to be wibbly wobbly. But what if it is? Then the flange itself might be the issue.

white toilet

What to do if the toilet still rocks?

If your manipulations with the bolts or the wax ring didn’t help, it’s time to go harder and replace the flange. As I have said, the flange can stay damaged for some time without being noticed, but when it finally gives up, everything goes very wrong.

To replace the flange, do the following:

  1. Find the information about your flange to choose the replacement. Of course, you can measure it after removing the toilet, or even extract and bring it to a store as a reference. But it means your toilet will be nonfunctional all the time. So you better dig it. The new wax ring you will also have to buy should fit the diameter of the flange.
  2. Cut off the water supply and disconnect the refill hose from the tank.
  3. On the sides of the base, unfasten the two nuts off the bolts.
  4. Raise the toilet and bring it away.
  5. Remove the wax ring from the flange with a putty knife.

Now you can directly access the flange and see what’s wrong with it. If it needs to be removed (and if you have gone that far, it probably does), do the following:

  1. Find the screws on the upper side of the flange and unscrew them with a screwdriver. A hint: don’t throw them away. If you lose one from the new kit, you’ll need an old one.
  2. Lift the flange. If it’s glued to the pipe, you’ll have to use a chisel. If it’s made of metal and got rusty, you can chip it away in pieces, but it’s wiser to call a plumber.
  3. If you didn’t get the replacement one, measure the diameter of the pipe with a measuring tape. You can take the old one with you to the store as a reference unless it’s destroyed during the extraction. Buy a new flange and return it.
  4. Put the new flange into the outflow pipe. While doing so, check whether the rubber gasket is undamaged and whether it seals the pipe tightly.
  5. Use the level to check whether its surface is even.
  6. Put the bolts into the holes on the flange lip. Fix the flange with the screws.
  7. Reinstall the toilet (as described in the previous section).
  8. Use the level to check whether it stands evenly. If not, use shims to level it.

yellow bathroom toilet

FAQ About Fixing a Wobbly Toilet

After reading about how to fix a loose toilet, you might still have questions on various topics. Let’s answer the most popular of them.

How much does it cost to fix a wobbly toilet?

It depends on the reason why the toilet is wobbly. The most important part, a wax ring, starts at around $5. The all-in-one kit that consists of a wax/rubber ring with a flange and a couple of bolts with washers and nuts can be found for $15.

This is much cheaper than calling a plumber; the service starts at $60, though it includes all the components, and up to $150.

Why should you caulk around a toilet?

Caulking prevents the wax from any external impact. The wax is the softest and the most vulnerable part of the installation.

Can you overtighten a toilet?

Everything that can be tightened can be overtightened as well. That’s why you need to alternate your tightening, not tighten one to the limit and then another. Stop when you feel you can make half a turn more.

Also read:

Sitting on the Top of the World

Now that you’re sitting on your restored throne, you know why it’s great to know how to secure a toilet to the floor with your own hands. Probably, you’ve been searching for this page on purpose, maybe right on discovering that your toilet is rocking.

I’d like you to return here after you do the work. If you tell me your story of successfully fixing the toilet, I’ll be excited to read it in the comments. It will surely make this article even more useful for the readers, so thank you in advance.

Gerald Carpenter

My name is Gerald Carpenter and I am a professional plumber in the third generation. My father was a plumber, my grandfather was a plumber. I wish I had records on my other ancestors.

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