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How to Replace Toilet Bolts Without Removing the Toilet [6-Step Guide]

It’s a sad problem when your toilet bowl is rocking back and forth.

This is evidently caused by rusted bolts.

But in the general sense, we know that you’ll have to lift the toilet bowl. And definitely, no one will want to risk breaking a toilet.

How do you replace bolts without removing the toilet?

You can’t unfortunately. Replacing the bolts without removing the toilet is not possible. The Bolts are held on the closet flange situated under the toilet. You will have to move the toilet from the basement to replace its bolts. One possible method is by leaning the toilet on the wall. But this is extremely risky. Thus it is not recommended.

There is a problem with this. And that is removing the toilet bowl is a tedious task. More importantly not everyone will have the space to fit a toilet. 

Items Needed

You’ll need wax rings, closet fittings, and new bolts among the absolutely necessary items. Apart from that, you’ll be needing an adjustable wrench to adjust the process.

Removing the bolt covers may require blades or putty knives.

If cutting is necessary then it will require mini hacksaws or a related solution (eg: reciprocal saws and oscillating tools).

Replacing Toilet Bolts: 6 Easy Steps! 

There are a few things that you should be mindful of here. First, unfortunately, your options are only two. The first is to remove the toilet bowl. It’s the safer option.

The second is leaning the toilet bowl against the wall to have access to the bolts. The reason behind this is that your flange is situated below the toilet bowl itself and is mounted to the floor.

But apart from that, the steps of both lifting the toilet and leaning on the toilet are still mostly the same.

Follow the following steps to have a proper toilet bolt-changing experience:

Step 1: Draining the water

Firstly, the water supply. You’ll have to shut it down. Firmly close the valve on the toilet to ensure that no water gets in,

This will ensure that water doesn’t spill out. Remember, this is a careful and crucial step. And that’s since you have to do the task without removing the toilet bowl itself. 

You’ll have to flush out any remaining water that exists. Flap-styled ones will require pushing down. While canister-styled ones will have to be pulled up. 

Secondly, disconnect the supply line. Plunge out any additional water.

Step 2: Removing the Caps

Now you’ll have to remove the caps that are in place. This should be relatively easy as in many cases they are just held in place.

But you might have to pry it open. For this use a blade. Place it under the cap and pry the cap open. A putty knife is also a possibly good alternative for this.   

Step 3: Loosening the Nut

Now is the time to unscrew the nut. The Nut is what is holding the bolt down. You’ll have to use an adjustable wrench for the task. 

Unfortunately, the rust might be a bit too far-gone. Rusted bolts will require some form of lubricant. What you should use is penetrating oil. 

Penetrating oil is a viscous lubricant that’s used for rusted substances. Pour some penetrating oil on the nut. Let it soak the oil up. An ideal time is around 15 minutes. 

It should now be ready to be unscrewed.

Step 4: Lifting the Toilet Bowl

Unfortunately, the toilet bowl is something that you will have to lift here. I’ll discuss the possible aspect of leaning on the toilet bowl later.

Lift the bowl up and remove it from the purview. This can be a difficult task. Some help might be better. The closet flange will now be properly visible

You can utilize this to have a look down to ensure that there are no stains.

The closet flange is where your bolts are going to be mounted. The closet flange is where you will be replacing your bolts. 

Step 5: Unscrewing the Nut

It’s time to remove the nut now. There will be cases in which the nut may resist. I’ll cover that later in the article. But at this stage, it’s just about using a wrench to basically work your way towards removing the bolt. 

Then you’ll have to remove the existing wax layer on the closet flange.

Step 6: Final Step

Finally you’ll have to screw in your new bolts. I have given some recommendations of what bolts to use in the precautions section of our article.

After using an adjustable wrench to screw in your bolts. Your flange should have a new wax ring mounted on it. So, replace it.

An additional option is that you can use a gasket to safely mount everything on. Be sure that you’re very careful about everything as that’ll ensure that your toilet stays in place.

Finally, mount back the toilet and reconnect the plumbing. Your toilet is now guaranteed to not fall off. Unlike your grades.

Make sure that the fitting is good to ensure that there’s no issue with leakage.

You may also have to caulk your floor. That is even with a sealed grout.

Cutting the Bolts

You might have to use this as a last-ditch resort if your bolts won’t budge. To cut the bolts the best option would be to use the oscillating tool. This might be a pricier option so you can also opt for mini hacksaws.

Metal edges are ideal for this. Make sure that you don’t cut yourself or scratch anything in the process.

If your budget calls for it then you can also opt for a reciprocal saw. 

Leaning the Toilet

Possibly, this might be your only option. For this, you’ll have to lean the toilet against the wall. That is assuming that your toilet can be leaned back or sideways with the wall.

What is essential here is access to the closet flange. So it has to be leaned in such a way that you can easily access the bolts that are to be replaced. 

The reason why this wasn’t recommended is that it’s almost impossible to pull off without breaking the toilet.

The second set of hands here might still be risky. Car jacks might be your golden egg. Car jacks are reliable and able to handle large loads. 

But be careful about water as it may cause slipperiness. The slipperiness will result in the jack’s performance being hampered.

Also, ensure access to adequate lighting there. Repairing cars outdoors will have significantly more light than this.

Overall this option should only be utilized if you are willing to take the risk. 

Precautions to Ensure that Your Bolts Don’t Rust

Replacements will of course have to be good enough. This is to ensure that you don’t face the same problem again. Firstly, pick the right bolt.

Many sources will recommend that you use flange bolts. Flange bolt will make sure that the weight of what it’s supporting is distributed evenly. This will make sure that bolts stay strong even when rusted.

Secondly, the material. Steel bolts should be avoided in this sense. High-grade stainless steel may offer some protection to you in this regard. 

Another possible material is brass. Just like the aforementioned option, brass is also relatively pricier. But you must remember that being cheap here will bring problems. It’s better to opt for the pricier option here.

Some bolt recommendations have been given below:

NEXT BY DANCO All-in-One Toilet Installation KitAround $15It’s an all-in-one solution. So it’ll contain the entire set.
DANCO Brass Closet Bolts with Nuts and Washers Toilet Bolt Set, 1/4 inch x 2-1/4 inch, BrassAround $4.20Set of two brass bolts with the nut
LASCO 04-3645 Solid Brass 5/6-Inch by 2-1/4-Inch Heavy Duty BoltAround $8.74Set of a brass bolt with nut

We hope that this will help you in deciding what a good brass bolt selection might be. Ideally, you might look at Walmart’s clearance sections for sales of plumbing equipment. 


Why do my toilet bolts keep coming loose?

Your toilet bolts will be loose due to a bent or a damaged closet flange. Make sure that you have a flange that’s secured properly.

How tight should toilet bolts be?

Toilet bolts don’t have to be too tight. It just needs to be tight enough to hold the flange in place. Make sure that it is not too tight.

Should you caulk around the toilet?

You might be required by law to caulk around the toilet bowl. Apart from that, it’s just something that’s safe to do. Caulking will help the toilet be secure, similar to your bolts being screwed in place. 


How to replace toilet bolts without removing the toilet? Unfortunately, you can’t in most cases unless you opt for the leaning option.

However, you can always opt for the riskier option. 

Happy plumbing!