How To Fix a Wobbly Toilet

Updated: Feb. 13, 2024

Wobbly toilets may lead to more serious problems in the future. Luckily, it's an easy DIY fix.

Next Project

1 hour or less




Under $20


Fix your toilet before the wobble becomes a major problem.

Tools Required

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Putty knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Utility knife

Materials Required

  • Closet bolts
  • Plastic shims
  • Rags
  • Scrap cardboard
  • Toilet flange repair ring
  • Wax ring

Have you ever had a toilet in your home you dreaded sitting on because of the annoying wobble? Well, it’s time to finally fix it. The wobble can cause additional issues if left unaddressed.

Several things could cause a toilet to wobble — loose bolts, an uneven or rotting floor, or a damaged toilet flange. Some people assume they need to replace the toilet, when it usually requires a quick fix any DIYer can handle.

The toilet I worked on wobbled because of loose bolts. All I did was remove the plastic caps, grab a wrench and gently tighten the nuts on the bolts. This is pretty common. Over time, the bolts that secure the toilet to the floor come loose .

When to call a pro

If you can’t get your toilet to stop wobbling after following these steps, or discover more difficult plumbing issues you don’t feel comfortable DIY-ing — say, spongy flooring or a leaky toilet flange —  contact a professional plumber or general contractor.

Project step-by-step (3)

Step 1

Tighten the toilet bolts

This should be first thing to try. Here’s how to do it:

  • Take a putty knife and pry off the plastic caps that cover the two bolts at the base of the toilet.
  • Check if the bolts are loose. If so, tighten them evenly with a wrench. Be careful not to over-tighten them, which can crack the toilet.
  • If this eliminates the wobble, replace the plastic caps and carry on. Keep an eye out for any water leaking from the toilet base after a dozen flushes or so. If you do have a leaking toilet, check the wax ring and flange.

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Step 2

Shim the toilet

Uneven floors can cause toilet wobbles. Shims eliminate the unevenness. Here’s how to add them:

  • Cut through any caulk around the toilet base.
  • Slide plastic or composite shims around the base until it sits firmly in place.
  • Use a utility knife to cut away any exposed shim parts.
  • For the next few weeks, keep an eye out for water leaking from the base. Old wax rings can crack if you shim a toilet too high.

Don’t go back and caulk your toilet to the floor until you’re certain the wax ring seal isn’t leaking.

How To Fix A Wobbly Toilet Fhmvs23 Mf 12 04 Wobblytoilet 2TMB Studio

Step 3

Remove the toilet

If the toilet is still rocking or water leaks from your adjustments, it’s time to remove the toilet to see what’s going on.

If water is leaking, the wax ring probably was damaged. If the toilet is still rocking, it could be from debris under it, loose pipes or a broken toilet flange.

To remove the toilet:

  • Turn off the water supply.
  • Flush the toilet to empty the tank and bowl, then disconnect the water supply line. Have rags handy for any residual water that may drip out.
  • Unscrew the closet bolts and lift the toilet straight up off the flange. Place some rags or cardboard out of the way to set the toilet on. Shove a few rags into the flange to keep sewer gas out of the bathroom.
  • Scrape off the old wax ring with a putty knife, and inspect the toilet flange, especially the slots that hold the closet bolts.
    • If the toilet flange and pipe are sturdy and the closet bolt slots are in good condition, thoroughly clean the floor under the toilet and make sure there are no chunks of caulk or grout making the toilet rock. If all seems in good order, reinstall the toilet with a new wax ring and closet bolts.
    • If the flange and pipes are in good shape but the closet bolt slots are broken or deformed, install a flange repair ring that works with the style of your flange. Then reinstall the toilet using a new wax ring and closet bolts.
    • Test the toilet for stability by sitting on it and rocking gently from side to side. If it feels secure and doesn’t wobble, you’re good to go.
    • If the flange or pipes are loose, cracked or visibly broken, or you have a rotted floor under the toilet, it’s a more complex problem. Better to leave this repair to the pros.

How To Fix A Wobbly Toilet Fhmvs23 Mf 12 04 Wobblytoilet 4TMB Studio


When replacing a toilet, what parts can’t be reused?
The wax ring. Always buy a new one.

Is it worth it to replace an old toilet?
Absolutely. Newer toilets are more water-efficient, saving you money. They’re also a more environmentally friendly. New toilet designs often need less cleaning and look nicer.

How long does a toilet wax ring last?
Indefinitely. Wax, unlike rubber, doesn’t deteriorate. Unless there’s another problem, the toilet wax ring won’t spring a leak on its own.