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Inspired by this problem.

If I somehow succeed in removing the rusted bolts and replace them with new ones, how can I prevent the new bolts from rusting and getting stuck too? (Other than removing the tank every x months/years just to clean the bolts.)

E.g. in the bike repair videos they always grease the bolts before reinserting them, I was asking myself if this would work for the toilet tank as well. Since I did not find any mention of this anywhere, I imagine this would be a bad idea (maybe because the grease would allow the water to leak around the bolts?), but I would be interested in your opinions, or maybe if someone has tried it, what were the experiences.

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  • Are you sure its generic grease? I'd use copper based assembly antiseize. – Criggie Jun 10 '20 at 0:21
  • No, I don't know exactly what it is. It was more to illustrate a point. – Attilio Jun 10 '20 at 7:13
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The best solution is to purchase a new set of bolts that are made of stainless steel or brass. Both will not rust the same way that a iron or steel bolt will. They will cost a little bit more but will pay back in the long term.

My experience has been that the brass bolts after years can sometimes build up their own kind of corrosion that can make it difficult to remove the nuts. This seems to be related to the water chemistry and to some degree if there is a micro leak by the bolt. Stainless steel bolts are the best in my experience and I have been very happy with the toilet repairs where I have used them.

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    Stainless bolts are the best and hard to find in the toilet repair sections. I got some stainless steel bolts, washers and nuts in the hardware section and bought a cheap toilet bolt kit for the rubber washers. + – JACK Jun 9 '20 at 12:16
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Aside from using non-corroding bolts (which can be hard to track down in today's "make it cheap, even if it's useless" economy) applying silicone grease liberally can be helpful. If your local sources of supply only have rusty steel, be ready to find better ones online. Silicone grease (specifically) does not damage rubber seals - I'm particularly fond of vacuum grease (a little harder to find, but one tube has lasted me decades once found.)

Somewhere I have a set of steel bolts for a toilet tank. They, with rubber washers, were cheaper than rubber washers alone (or else there were no rubber washers alone, I can't recall now.) I did not use those bolts, as the bolts on the toilet were brass and far better than the new ones, 40 years on - just the rubber had deteriorated. I did also grease them up. Grease in general is strongly hydrophobic, and vacuum grease in particular is thick enough to act as a secondary seal against leaks (it does not move much, and will fill any irregularities.)

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  • Bolts of a correct metallurgy are readily available at any proper hardware store with the 1000 drawers of bolts. Fair chance big-box will also have either brass or stainless in the little bags. And if all that fails, McMaster-Carr. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 9 '20 at 13:52
  • I will guarantee you that the Orange big-box store had nothing but Chinese rust-prone steel when I was shopping for these particular parts. My local hardware stores are pretty hit or miss as well - recently could not find a lead-free threaded elbow (yes, different problem, but similar issue of "choice of metallurgy") at all there... – Ecnerwal Jun 9 '20 at 15:52
  • In my neck of the NW we have a company called "Tacoma Screw" (sounds like a dirty phrase, but it's really the name of the company with many locations) They have a wide variety of products and would probably carry what you're looking for. I know we shouldn't be doing product or company recommendations here, but I've also had good luck with Fastenal. – George Anderson Jun 9 '20 at 16:45
  • Fastenal can order you almost anything (from McMaster-Carr lol) if cost is no object. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 9 '20 at 18:02
  • West Marine has stainless steel hardware. – chili555 Jun 10 '20 at 2:05
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I had this same problem several years ago on my 25 yr old house. I recently saw the commercial for flex seal paint spray. They only had the black color but now I would prefer the white. After 2 years it still looks ok.

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  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer, but how exactly did you use this spray paint? And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. – Daniel Griscom Nov 7 '20 at 13:12

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