Replacing a couple of toilet tank bolts may not look like a difficult task. However, in reality, things can be quite different from theory. The most common issue is bolts being so affected by rust that it is impossible to unscrew them. Keep on reading to find out how to remove rusted bolts from toilet tank!
Why toilet tank bolts rust?
Have you noticed that toilet tank bolts have rusted? You are probably wondering why this has happened.
In a humid environment, any piece of metal that contains iron will rust. Even if you take care and minimize contact with water, the inevitable will happen, sooner or later.
Since these bolts are found inside your toilet tank, they are constantly submerged under water and rust will accumulate over time. Especially when they are made from cheap metal that rusts easily, replacement is a must.
The only solution is to purchase a new set of bolts that are made of stainless steel or brass. These metals are not affected by rust. Their price is higher, but they are more cost-effective on the long term.
Why toilet tank maintenance is important?
We are used to taking toilets for granted and forget we need to complete regular maintenance to their parts. Taking care of any product or fixture in your home is required if you want to use it for a long time. Without regular checkups and minor repairs, a toilet tank can develop problems such as leaks and rust.
Here are the main aspects you need to consider if you want to keep your toilet in excellent condition:
- Regular cleaning
Nobody thinks about their toilet tank until there is a problem with it. You need to clean it on a regular basis, though. This enables you to avoid problems such as dirt and germs buildup.
- Emptying toilet tanks that are not used for a long time
Toilet tanks that are rarely used can grow mold inside, which is bad for your health and causes bad smell. Empty the toilet tank if you are not using it for a long time.
- Avoid bleach
Do not use toilet tank tablets that contain bleach as they can cause erosion to rubber parts.
- Check for damaged parts
During regular cleaning check toilet parts for defects and replace them before they break down.
- Replace toilet tank bolts if they start to rust
The two large nuts and bolts that secure the tank to the toilet bowl can rust in time, causing leaks. If you notice rust, replace these bolts sooner rather than later. If they are very rusty, you will be unable to unscrew them. Replacing them will not be impossible, but a lot more difficult.
How to remove toilet tank bolts?
Wondering how to remove rusted bolts from toilet tank?
Complete the following steps for a successful toilet tank bolt replacement:
- Empty water from toilet tank
Turn off the water supply and flush the tank until it is empty. Make sure to soak residual water with an old towel or sponge.
This is important to do as loosening the bolts can cause water to leak onto the floor. Optionally you can put a towel on the floor under the area where you will work. Even if you have tile on the floor, it is better to avoid leaking water.
- Try unscrewing first
Use a flat head screwdriver and a wrench. Hold the bolt in place with the screwdriver. Next turn the wrench counterclockwise around the nut, under the tank. If the bolts are not too rusty, this maneuver should work
- Be prepared for other options
If the head of the bolt turns to dust when you start to use the screwdriver, you need to try a different approach. Removing those bolts can be more difficult, but not impossible. The key is to know how to remove rusted bolts from toilet tank.
- Try with a mini-hack saw
The flexible blade of a mini-hack saw will give you access under the head of the bolt. This solution works even if the bolt is severely affected by rust. Stripping the rubber washer can also help and enable you to cut through the bolt more easily.
- Use a reciprocating saw
A reciprocating saw is more effective than a hack saw, but the downside of this method is risking to damage the toilet. The key is to choose a blade that does the job for you.
Shorter blades allow for more control, while longer blades give you access further. You need to find a balance between the two, while working from under the tank.
- Consider bolt cutters
The next alternative is using bolt cutters. They can be a good solution if the nut is loose but does not come off anymore.
In terms of price, bolt cutters fall in the middle. Hacksaws are the cheapest, while reciprocating saw is a lot more expensive than both.
- Drilling the bolts out
This is the last resort if the bolts are very rusty and stubborn. Use a small drill to drill the bolts out. Beware of using this method as it can easily break the porcelain. Make sure the tank is completely dry if you decide to try this method.
How to install new toilet tank bolts?
Now that you know how to remove rusted bolts from toilet tank, it’s time to make your toilet functional again! Here are some tips to ensure a good job:
- Pick quality bolts
Tired with so much work from removing those rusty bolts? You won’t have to perform this operation any time soon if you install quality bolts this time. Choose bolts that are resistant to rust and corrosion!
- Screw the nut onto the bolt
Using a flathead screwdriver, hold the bolt in place inside the tank. Screw the nut onto the bolt and not the opposite.
- Do not overtighten nuts
Overtightening the nuts will compress the washers. This will cause trouble as it will be keeping the water inside the toilet tank.
Another negative effect of over-tightening is accidentally. Do not worry if the tank moves around a little. Flexibility is good. If someone leans back on a fixed toilet tank, it can crack. This problem could be fixed with some epoxy.
Things you need to pay attention to
A few final thoughts before you start applying your knowledge on how to remove rusted bolts from toilet tank:
- Finding replacements
It is advisable to replace rusty bolts with new parts made from solid brass or stainless steel. 
However, many DIY passionate complain that it is hard to find such bolts that fit toilets. Many people end up installing bolts that rust easily again.
Make sure you have found the right replacements before taking your toilet out of service for bolt replacement.
- Know when to stop tightening the bolts
Many people ask: ‘When do I stop tightening the bolts?’
Only experience can give you the best answer, but there are other things that can help too. For instance, use a small wrench so you are not tempted to keep tightening. Get the bolts snug but not tight.
- Check the toilet tank gasket too
Since you are already replacing the bolt, you can also replace the gasket.
Once you know how to remove rusted bolts from toilet tank, you are very close to replacing the gasket. Better do this job now instead of having to remove bolts again in the near future to install a new gasket.
- Check other causes of leaks
Rusty toilet tank bolts are not the only cause of toilet tank leaks. Other possible causes are:
- A leak at the tank water supply
- A leak at the gasket in the center of the tank;
- A crack in the tank.
Plumbing can be quite unpredictable. Such repairs can be trial and error jobs. It is possible to discover that you don’t have what you need to finish. Check the schedule of the hardware supply store and start early. This way, you can go and buy what you need in case something unexpected arises.
Do you find it hard learning how to remove rusted bolts from toilet tank? The difficulty of this job depends on how much rust there is and on your dexterity. However, having the right tools for the job and some plumbing experience can get the job done very fast!