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I had my bathroom renovated and had a new toilet installed. I noticed the white caps on the toilet screws were not secure---- looked like the contractor tried to secure them with some sort of caulking. I was not confident that they would stick and I had a grave concern because my daughter likes to pull them off anyway. So I took them off and cleaned up the goop which was used to secure them.

I didn't know if i was being overcritical but it seemed like the caps might have been hiding shoddy work. I attached some photos. Notice the washer (I don't recall seeing them on old insulation). Also it looks like the screw was broken off after it was screwed in. (it's sharp)-- again another issue for my daughter.

Couple of questions- 1. Is there custom hardware to attach toilet to floor? 2. What should keep these caps or is there an assumption that you won't have two year olds to pull them out.

you can see how the screw is jagged

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If the "caulking" was a dark yellow-brown (which it looks like from your picture), it was probably wax from the wax ring that squeezed out. –  TREE Jan 2 '13 at 15:08
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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The caps come with a washer-type thing that they clip into: toilet bolt covers

Your toilet clearly does not have these clips. Using silicone is most definitely not the correct way to attach these, so maybe the installer lost the clips or just has never installed a toilet before?

It's normal to cut the bolts to length, as the length needed depends on the thickness of your floor. The nice way to do this is with a tool that has a cut-off wheel (eg, Dremel), the not-so-nice way is a pair of cutters since it leaves the edges sharp, but if the cap is attached correctly it shouldn't matter.

Here's what it looks like normally (via Handymanhowto), the clips are clear in this case:

toilet attached to floor

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Ha, beat me by 60 seconds. +1 –  BMitch Jan 2 '13 at 14:14
    
@gregmac - thanks! –  ek_ny Jan 2 '13 at 14:48
    
Another simple solution for the sharp edges would be to file them with a metal file. –  TREE Jan 2 '13 at 15:10
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[Gregmac beat me to the problem description, but see the steps to fix it below.]

The snap on caps often come with a plastic piece that goes under the washer. This is what the cap snaps onto, and without it, it won't stay down securely.

example caps and base

It looks like the contractor forgot about those, or possibly you have a style that doesn't require it and it snaps on a different way.

As for the sharp edges on the bolt, that's normal. Toilet bolts come fairly long to allow for different thicknesses of flooring and to allow you to thread the bolt before you've pushed the wax seal flat (to ensure you're lined up). When you're done, you cut off the excess bolt with a hack saw, which will leave a rough edge.

To fix this, you'll want a new cap with the proper base. I'd drain the toilet tank (shutoff the water and flush) to minimize the risk that the toilet will tip when you unbolt it from the floor. Remove the nut and washer, reinstall the base of the cap, the washer, and then the nut. Hand tighten the nut, since using a socket wrench can case the porcelain to crack. I usually can't get it tight enough with my bare hands, and give it an extra quarter turn with a socket, but do so carefully. And make sure that you do not lift up on the toilet at any time, or you'll have to pull the entire thing up and replace the wax seal.

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very helpful-- thanks.. –  ek_ny Jan 2 '13 at 14:48
    
+1 for describing the fix. –  gregmac Jan 2 '13 at 15:05
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You can get toilet bolt covers in a variety of styles. The ones pictured by gregmac are a common type that use a plastic washer to which the cap snaps onto. I recently purchased another style that has a cap with an internal threaded part that screws onto the toilet bolt end. The cap kit comes with several sizes of the threaded inserts to adapt to different sizes of toilet bolts. As you can see in the picture below the inserts thread into the inside of the cap and then onto the toilet bolt.

enter image description here

In your case it may be necessary to file the sharp ends of the toilet bolt so that cap can thread onto the end of the bolt.

I found this type of cap to work very well. I previously had the snap on type caps that always came unsnapped when bumped accidentally. Purchase them at any good hardware store in the replacement plumbing parts section.

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this is interesting - I wonder if this obviates the need for cutting the screws. Thanks. –  ek_ny Jan 2 '13 at 14:49
    
@ek_ny - These caps will work with some length of bolt remaining but it all depends upon how much. If the bolt is too short they will not work. –  Michael Karas Jan 2 '13 at 15:35
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