Toilets are an essential part of a home’s plumbing system and provide a sanitary way to remove waste and direct it into the sewer or septic system. However, like all household systems, they can occasionally need to be repaired or replaced. One of the most common problems that homeowners encounter is a loose or wobbly toilet. Luckily, correcting this is usually a simple and straightforward fix.
The most common culprit for a loose toilet is the flange or flange bolts. Looking from the front of the toilet, check the flange bolts which are situated on each side of the toilet. If the bolts are loose, use a pair of pliers to carefully tighten the bolts until they are snug. Be careful to not over-tighten the bolts as this can crack or damage the porcelain and possibly require complete replacement. If the toilet is still loose after tightening the bolts, installing shims between the flange and the floor may be necessary.
First, check around your toilet to see if there are any leaks. If you find signs of a leak, the wax gasket sealing the toilet flange may be old and in need of replacement. This will require pulling the toilet and replacing the wax gasket. If you don’t find any leakage, check the base of the toilet to locate any gaps between the toilet and the floor. A loose toilet is often due to the flange of the toilet not sitting flush with the floor, causing it to wobble or move. Using plastic shims (which can be found at most hardware stores), slide a shim into the gap between the toilet and the floor and adjust until the toilet no longer wobbles (again being careful not to overtighten).
Next, trim the shims with a sharp utility knife to get rid of the extra sections of plastic. Use caulking to seal around the base of the toilet, which will hide the shims and seal against water intrusion. Leave the back of the toilet base unsealed in case of future leakage. Leaving this back area unsealed will help to prevent water from becoming trapped during a leak will make a leak more obvious and easier to detect.
After the caulk has dried, check the toilet a final time to make sure that it is no longer loose. If the toilet is still loose, this may indicate further issues with the toilet which may include a damaged flange, broken flange rings, or damaged sub-flooring.