How To Fix A Rocking Toilet
If you’ve ever had a toilet that rocks or sat on one at a relative or friends house, you don’t have to be an expert to tell that something is not right. The cause of a rocking toilet is that the flange height is too high for the toilet base. To fix the rocking toilet issue you’ll want to use plastic shims to wedge under the base, then caulk around the base to help support and form a water tight seal.
What Causes a Rocking Toilet
Under normal circumstances a toilet does not rock or move when you sit on it. By nature of how a toilet flange (the drain in the floor), and the base of your toilet fits together, the gap between those two should be generous enough to let a wax seal fit between and have the outer edge of the base touch the floor. The problem is that some drain flanges stick a little too high out of the floor. This causes the toilet to teeter totter on top of the flange or “rock”, when someone is using it.
What Can Go Wrong if Not Fixed
A toilet that rocks even a little has potential to cause leaks and damage. The most obvious thing is that with movement the wax seal can be deformed and cause water to leak when you flush. This is because wax seals are a single fit type item. Under normal conditions when they are pressed in to fit between the base and the drain flange, there is no movement to cause the seal to have to reform over and over again. A rocking condition can create depressions in the wax seal that aren’t going to spring back when they are shifted side to side.
Another issue with rocking is that the flange and particularly the bolt slots in the flange, aren’t designed to support the weight of the toilet and user. It’s the outer edge of the toilet base that is suppose to support that weight, and with the weight teeter tottering on the bolt slots this can cause them to break off. Without bolt slots for the toilet base bolts to tighten into, the base can rock even more. Once this happens, the repair cost to the flange can greatly increase.
How to Fix a Toilet From Rocking
We’ve explained what causes a toilet to rock. If the flange was lower in the floor, or if the bottom of the toilet base as compared to where the toilet drain mounted to the flange was longer, then there wouldn’t be a problem. Thankfully short of reworking the flange and measuring the bottom of toilets, there’s an easier fix. It’s very common to use a plastic shim that can be purchased at Lowes or Home Depot to wedge under the base to restrict movement. You’ll notice the design of these style shims is different than wooden shims you may find at a hardware store. Shims designed for leveling a toilet base are shorter and constructed of plastic so that they are water proof. Them being made of plastic also eliminates any compression that a wooden shim may experience under load bearing conditions.
To install the shims simply wedge them under the gap between the base and the floor. It’s likely that you can get away with 2-4 shims. Once the shims are installed you can trim away the excess if they stick out too much. If the rocking is severe you may want to remove the toilet and old wax seal and reset the toilet again first. After you’ve set the toilet, make sure not to over tighten the flange bolts as they only need to be snug. If you over tighten them you have a risk of breaking the flange bolt slots or cracking the base of your porcelain toilet.
After you’ve got the shims installed and everything seems level and steady you’ll want to caulk the gap between the base of the toilet and the floor. This helps to hold the shims in place and also helps to hold the toilet in place. This will actually make the outside of the toilet easier to clean.
South End Plumbing specializes toilet repair so remember, we are just a click away. We also specialize in leak detection – give us a call! South End Plumbing is one of the only companies that will give you a free estimate. Call us at 704-919-1722 or fill out the form online to schedule a visit.