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picture of floor boltI replaced the wax ring at the bottom of the toilet because it seemed like there was a slow leak. Since then, the toilet feels slightly unsteady when sat on. This is the second toilet I've replace a wax ring for and the first feels totally stable, so I don't know what to do about the second toilet. I've tightened the bolts a couple of times. I don't want to crack the porcelain, so I've been cautious about tightening the bolts. I've attached a pic of one of the bolts. I've considered getting a bigger metal washer to lay over the plastic washer, to be sure the metal is laying over the porcelain, but I don't know if that's the right approach. What should I do to improve the stability of the toilet?

UPDATE: Sorry about the pic. It's added now.

I disconnected the toilet from floor. The wax seemed okay. There was no leak. I went to Lowes and got a metal flange repair and one of the Perfect Seal wax replacements, like this: image of perfect seal from Lowes.com

The PVC flange seemed unbroken, so it seemed like I didn't need the metal flange replacement. I removed all of the wax ring that I had installed a few months ago. I laid the new Perfect Seal on top of flange and then replaced the toilet. The toilet barely sank. I'm not a big person, less than 150 soaking wet, pressed as much as I could. The toilet was getting nowhere near the floor. So I think the problem is the PVC flange itself. While unbroken, I think it's too far above the floor. I took off the perfect seal, since the toilet was nowhere near the floor. Back to Lowes, got one of those regular wax rings and tried like hell to get the toilet closer to the floor. It's better than the perfect seal, but it's still a little bit high. I looked and looked for one of the reusable plastic rings, as suggested in one of the answers, while at Lowes but all they had was wax rings and perfect seal like items. Now, I wonder if the PVC flange has to be redone. If I can find that plastic ring, maybe not (maybe it'll sink a little more?). Otherwise, it seems like the wax rings are a little too much wax. Anyway, the toilet is not leaking, it's also not as stable as I like, but we'll make it work until I have more time and motivation. Thanks for all the support. Great forum.

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    Check what the bolts go into....
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Apr 13 at 21:49
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    Have you shimmed the bowl base properly?
    – Huesmann
    Commented Apr 14 at 15:08
  • I haven't tried shims or caulk yet. That could be next steps. I'm going to look for the soft seal suggest @RMDman first.
    – John Polo
    Commented Apr 15 at 1:55
  • you don't have a picture of the whole area. If this is on tile and the tiles are at different heights none of the solutions so far will help you.
    – DMoore
    Commented Apr 15 at 2:55
  • @DMoore. The floor is flat. It's a linoleum-like flooring. I don't think the level of the floor is the problem. At least, it's not an obviously uneven, but I didn't take a level to it. If/when I get back to this again, I'll try to remember to get a pic of exposed flange and floor.
    – John Polo
    Commented Apr 15 at 11:41

6 Answers 6

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The toilet rests on the floor. If the flange is WAY too high (unlikely) that would be a problem but otherwise, remove the toilet, repair the floor if it's very uneven, use a new wax ring and use plastic shims to correct imperfections. The toilet should reset flat and without rocking before you put the bolts on.

Silicone around the front and sides of the toilet to keep it and the shims from moving relative to the floor.

THEN add the bolts, and not too tight, to keep the flange and wax ring aligned over the long term. The bolts are not holding the toilet to the floor.

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    Thank you for pointing out that the bolts are not holding toilet to floor. I thought that was their primary purpose.
    – John Polo
    Commented Apr 15 at 1:58
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    But what are the bolts for? Search away, you will only come up with "to secure the toilet to the floor". But If the toilet is unstable, and the bolts are tight, either the toilet or the flange will break. They are no match for a 200lb person dropping themselves onto the unstable toilet. If the toilet wants to slide forwards or backwards or revolve around the flange there is nothing about the bolts even attempting to stop it. IMO they help prevent the wax seal breaking in the event of some minor movement, EG if the flange is wobbly or there is some seasonal movement of the structure.
    – jay613
    Commented Apr 15 at 14:15
  • @jay613 I think they do 'secure' a toilet which is on the floor but they don't 'support' it. Aside from the flange being too high, the base of the toilet might be too shallow. I ran into that once. Swore off that brand of toilet forever.
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Apr 15 at 19:57
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The toilet flange may be cracked and as you tighten the bolt/ s the flange just bends.

If you want to be sure, remove the toilet and check the flange. I have found quite a few that cracked at the bolt slots. It could be what was causing a leak in the first place.

If the flange is cracked you can use a picture of metal flangeflange repair ring. If the toilet still rocks, use picture of shimtoilet shims to slide under the base to cure the rock.

You will probably have to replace the wax ring. I prefer to use picturer of flexible sealSoft flexible seals. Very reliable and reusable, for instances just like you have.

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  • Consider adding pictures to your post rather than external links for make it future-proof. External links will change at the will of the website hosting it. Links to external stores tend to break even faster. In the case of homedepot, I cannot even access the page and get "Access denied" (supposedly because I am from the EU). Commented Apr 15 at 10:55
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The solution I have used to solve this situation once I convinced myself that the new way ring is doing its job and not leaking is as follows:

I purchase a product that is a white sealer caulk (a common brand is DAP) that comes in a 5 to 8 oz. hand squeeze tube. The proper selection of product can be cleaned up easily before drying but after drying it firms up into a relatively hard consistency.

Making sure that the floor is nice and clean and the bottom rim of the toilet stool is clean and dry (any old caulks thoroughly removed) this sealer caulk is placed in a nice clean fillet all around the base of the toilet stool. Use care to not be rocking the stool at all till this sealer has firmed up.

This will remove any rocking of the toilet and keep crud from sneaking in under the edge of the toilet stool.

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I've had this problem a few times. The cause is usually a combination of these:

  1. The floor is not flat, and crests in the center line of the toilet, so the toilet cannot fully seat on the flange and rocks side to side. Solution: plastic shims, like the ones used in flooring.

  2. The flange is not property attached to the subfloor and/or is attached to rotten wood. Solution: remove the flange and make sure it's screwed on to solid wood.

  3. The flange itself is broken. This is fairly common, as most are made out of plastic. Solution: Flange repair/replacement kit. Oatey sells several, all good in my experience.

About caulking between toilet and tile: If you don't caulk it, smelly and ugly stuff accumulates there. If you caulk it, water from a leak might damage your subfloor and by the time you notice it, it's a major and expensive tear-out job. The compromise solution is to caulk just the front, and leave the back open, so that you notice leaks immediately. I'm in the no-caulk-on-toilet camp.

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Maybe the underlayment is rotten.

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    This is consistent with a previous leak Commented Apr 14 at 18:15
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We had a similar problem at the house I grew up in, where the floor had settled due to age, while the outflow pipe for the toilet stayed the same height, so it was teetering on just the pipe instead of being equally balanced by the floor on all sides.

My dad used some kind of hard rubber strip around the whole outer rim of the base to prop it up. It was even the same color as the toilet (blue) so maybe they make it specifically for that.

But the wax ring should compress more over time, and it may be you just need to let it do that. You did say it wasn't rocking til you installed the new ring, and if the old one was fine, I don't see how the new one wouldn't get to that point eventually too. Some materials you can't mold quickly, they're too hard, and it takes steady pressure over longer time to gradually mash them.

I have a vague memory of cracking a toilet somewhere by tightening either the floor bolts or tank bolts too much, and it being easier to do than you'd think.

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