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Removing Rusted Toilet Tank Bolts

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Toilet Repair 53237632729

Bathroom Plumbing Tips in Las Vegas

Rusting toilet tank bolts can be surprising. Either you didn’t realize it, or you noticed a drip which caused you to look at them. Sometimes during a quick adjustment, you lift the lid of the toilet tank and you see two giant balls of rust. Underneath all of that rust are the heads of the tank bolts. It’s a good idea to replace them even if they aren’t yet leaking.

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You may find that when looking underneath the tank (there the bolts are held to the bowl with washers and nuts) that there is a large amount of rust and corrosion here too.

The first step is to remove the old rusted bolts. Usually, you would use a screwdriver and a wrench. The screwdriver is for the bolt head and the wrench for the nut underneath the tank. However, with all of the rust and corrosion, you won’t be able to get it to budge. Sure you can try, but you may even snap the bolt, which is fine.

Try a hacksaw and cut through the bolt. This will allow you to pull the tank off of the bowl but you will be left with the stubs of the bolts sticking out. Tap lightly on the stub and push the bolt head out. You will need to clean up the area where the old bolt head was or you may develop another leak if the new washer doesn’t sit right.

Can Over-Tightening Toilet Tank Bolts Cause a Leak?

toilet tank boltI get asked this toilet question frequently, and I suspect that those people asking it have already found out the answer. Toilets are made of vitreous china and if the tank bolts are over tightened, the china will crack and can cause a leak.

The leak will come directly from the toilet tank and can be anything from a slow drip to a good flow of water. The big question is how do I know when to stop tightening the bolts?

That is the million dollar question. I think the right answer is probably “experience”, but if you don’t have a lot of experience go slowly. I use the smallest wrench I can find and choke way down on it. That way I am not tempted to continue tightening. When I say “choke down” I mean to place my hand right next to the jaws of the wrench to eliminate any leverage with the wrench. Tighten each bolt equally a little at a time. Then things start to get firm, it is time to be very aware. Get the bolts snug but not tight. Some tanks have built in lugs that will contact the bowl. If yours has these, stop when they contact the bowl.

You can fill the tank and look for leaks at the bolts. If you have a leak at a bolt, you either need to tighten the bolts a little more, or you have already cracked the tank. You are done when the tank doesn’t leak and is firm to the touch.

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