4 Tips for Replacing Toilet Flange Bolts

Looking down on a toilet in a black-tiled bathroom.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-90
What You'll Need
Measuring tape
Masking tape

A toilet flange is held in place by toilet flange bolts, and removing them is the most difficult part of replacing your toilet. There are now many products and methods on the market now to make the task easier. Bear in mind that your situation may differ from the exact scenario described in this article.

Step 1 - Prepare for the Job

Before you begin, measure the distance from the wall behind the toilet to the toilet flange bolts. This measurement is called a “rough in,” and most toilets were made with a 12-inch rough in. If your rough in is a different size, ask your local toilet store for assistance.

Once you are done with the measurement, turn off your water supply and flush the toilet to empty its tank. Hold the trip lever down so that all the water runs out; dry the remainder with a sponge.

Step 2 - Make Sure You Have a Washer

Flange bolts come in sets that usually include a plastic washer. If necessary, you can use this plastic washer to hold the flange bolts in place at the correct height. If there is no plastic washer included in your set, you should buy yourself a new washer set. It will save you a lot of time and trouble for only a little money.

Step 3 - Remove the Toilet Flange

Aside from bolts, old toilet flanges are sealed in place by lead, which would be a soft metal visible between the inner sewer pipe and the outer closet flange. In this situation, you will have to drill out as much lead as possible and take out any of the remaining metal using a heavy screw driver.

If there are trim caps hiding the bolts, pry each of them off with a screwdriver. You can then unscrew the bolts. If they won't unscrew, you can saw them off with a mini hacksaw, using masking tape on the surrounding area to protect the finish of your bowl. For an extra stubborn toilet flange, you may have to use a chisel and hammer to loosen it. You might even have to break the remaining flange if none of the previous methods work. Once you have removed the bolts, you can lift the bowl and seat unit. Rock it back and forth to break its seal with the flange and floor.

Step 4 - Replace the Toilet Flange

The new flange bolts should be installed into the slots on opposite sides. Install the toilet bowl over the flange and bolts, letting it drop exactly in place. Put the washers over the flange bolts and hand tighten them using a wrench. Use half turns only to ensure that you do not over tighten them and crack the porcelain of your toilet.

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