At one point or another, anyone that owns a toilet will need to do some maintenance. Although it’s usually pretty simple, sometimes it might require a bit of elbow grease. One of the most common problems related to toilet maintenance is that tank bolts get rusty and difficult to remove. Below we’ll explain how to best handle this issue.
- Before You Start, Drain the Water from the Bowl
- Removing Tank Bolts (Without Rust)
- Removing Rusted Tank Bolts
- Installing New Bolts
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
Before You Start, Drain the Water from the Bowl
First, turn off the water supply by rotating the nearby valve. Then, flush the tank and soak any remaining water with a sponge. If you skip this step, the water may reach the floor when you loosen the bolts. To be safe, make sure to put a towel around the toilet, even if you have a tile floor.
Removing Tank Bolts (Without Rust)
When preparing to remove rusted toilet tank bolts, consider how to remove them if they were in good condition first. For bolts without rust, you don’t need any special tools, only a screwdriver, and a wrench. To remove, hold the bolt in place with the screwdriver and loosen it with the wrench. Make sure not to tighten with a screwdriver as this may cause problems later.
Removing Rusted Tank Bolts
As you can see, removing tank bolts is a straightforward process. However, it’s a bit different and frustrating if the bolts are rusted, and might also take you some time, especially if the tops of the bolts are swollen. If you try to remove rusted bolts using a screwdriver, the tops might turn into dust. If this happens, there are a few things you can try:
Use a Mini Hacksaw
A mini hacksaw is a very handy tool that can help you remove rusted tank bolts. Since its blade is flexible, you might be able to push it under the head of the bolt – although you may need to cut the rubber elements to reach the bolt head. When you have the saw in place, you should be able to cut through the bolt easily.
Using this device would make the process much faster than with a hacksaw, but they’re a bit more difficult to find. Using this tool can also be riskier since you may easily damage the toilet.
When using the reciprocating saw, you’ll see a metal blade on the saw, which can come in various sizes. For example, there are short, 6-inch blades that will give you more control while working or longer blades that allow you to do the job from distance, which some people might find easier. Using the right-sized blade, you should be able to cut through the bolt and remove it, although be careful to avoid hitting the tank with the blade or you may damage your tank.
If nothing else works, you should try using bolt cutters. Although more expensive, bolt cutters are an ideal tool to use if the bolts are already loose but won’t come off, and will definitely do the job in this scenario.
Installing New Bolts
Now that you have removed the old, rusty bolts, it’s time to install new ones in place. First, make sure to screw the nut onto the bolt, and not vice versa. Also, don’t over-tighten anything, which can damage the weak material or otherwise be difficult to remove when it gets rusty. You want the toilet to be fixed, but don’t worry if it’s slightly flexible – it’s still better than damaging the tank.
Over-tightening Toilet Bolts: Can it Cause Leaking?
In most cases, toilets are made from vitreous china which is not as durable compared to other materials like stainless steel. If you over-tighten the bolts, the material will crack and cause leaking. The leaking can be just a couple of drops at first, but it has the potential to become a much bigger problem. But how can you be sure when to stop tightening?
We can advise you to start with a small wrench and tighten both bolts simultaneously. When things start to get firm, you should be very careful. Most likely, you’ll only need to turn them for about half a turn more at this stage.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I Need to Install a New Gasket?
Since you are already replacing tank bolts, this is an excellent opportunity to check if you should replace the gasket, too. If you need to do so, almost 90% of the work will be done only by removing the bolts.
How Do I Check the Tank Bolts?
You can find the bolts by simply checking the bottom of your toilet tank. If you look closely, you may notice that there are rubber washers that keep the water and moisture inside. However, those washers can get damaged or worn out over time, so be sure to check their condition as well.
If you’re struggling to remove rusted toilet tank bolts, we hope this guide will help you out. It can be a bit risky since you can easily damage the porcelain, but if you follow our instructions properly, you will have the bolts removed in no time.