Loose Toilets

When it comes to home inspections, a loose toilet is a common issue that can be easily overlooked but can lead to significant problems if left unaddressed. Today we will discuss the importance of identifying and fixing loose toilets that get noted during a home inspection. We’ll cover the causes, potential consequences, and solutions for this often-neglected issue.

The Importance of Inspecting Toilets

Toilets are an essential part of any home. They provide a critical function, and any malfunction or instability can potentially lead to water damage, structural issues, and even health hazards. During a home inspection, we intentionally test a toilet to make sure it is flushing properly and does not rock or swivel. A loose toilet can indicate various underlying issues that, if ignored, may result in costly repairs.

Common Causes of a Loose Toilet

Loose Bolts

Loose bolts connecting the toilet to the toilet flange are one of the primary causes of toilet instability. Sometimes fear of over tightening and cracking the toilet causes DIY homeowners to leave toilets not properly secured. Other times, the bolts can become loose due to general wear and tear or improper installation. If left unaddressed, this can lead to a wobbly toilet that may eventually leak.

Uneven Flooring

The flooring beneath the toilet should be even and level. If the floor is uneven, it can cause the toilet to wobble and become loose. This not only affects the toilet’s stability but also poses a risk of damaging the wax ring/seal and may be a source of leaks.

Cracked or Damaged Base

The toilet’s base can crack or become damaged. A damaged base can also lead to instability and potential leaks.

Consequences of Ignoring a Loose Toilet

If you have a loose toilet, it is critical to have it further evaluated and properly secured in order to prevent potentially costly issues. Here are some potential issues that may arise:

Water Damage from loose leaking toilet

Water Damage

A wobbly toilet can damage the wax ring/seal, leading to water leaks. This can result in water damage to the bathroom floor, subfloor, and even the ceiling below. Over time, this moisture can lead to mold and mildew growth, further complicating the problem.

Structural Damage

Prolonged water damage caused by a loose toilet can weaken the subfloor and potentially even the structural components of the house. 

Increased Utility Bills

A loose toilet tank may cause water leaks from the bowl and potentially increase your water bills. 

Solutions for Fixing a Loose Toilet

Loose toilets are a common deficiency that will show up on a home inspection report. The good news is that the repairs are fairly simple. Here are some steps to consider when addressing a loose toilet:

Loosen the Bolts and Pull the Toilet

We always recommend pulling the toilet if it is loose rather than simply tightening the bolts (this will come later). Pulling the toilet is important because it allows you to examine the floor/subfloor for any damage that may not be visible otherwise. Any damaged flooring/subfloor should be repaired.

Check the Toilet Flange

The toilet flange is what the toilet gets bolted to. If the toilet flange is not properly secured, the toilet cannot be secured to the floor. If the flange is loose or damaged, it must be secured/repaired prior to reinstalling the toilet.

Use a New Wax Ring/Seal

This step is essential to getting a proper seal between the toilet and the flange. Wax rings are the old standard, but there are other combinations or rubber seals also available in most home improvement stores.


Shim and Level Loose Toilet

Install and Level the Toilet

When the toilet is installed, check to make sure that it is level and does not rock on the floor. If the toilet is not level, toilet shims should be used to level the toilet prior to securing the bolts.

Tighten the bolts

Be sure to tighten the bolts snugly, but be careful to not over tighten. Overtightening may result in cracks in the toilet base (or potentially flooring).

A loose toilet should not be overlooked. Loose toilets are typically identified on a home inspection report as a major concern because of the potential for water damage below the toilet that can often go unnoticed or be hidden.