How to Fix a Toilet Leaking from the Tank Bolts

new-toilet-tank-bolt-washer-and-gasket

New toilet tank bolt, washer, and gasket

Fixing a toilet is perhaps the last thing a homeowner wants to deal with. It is one of the reasons why renters enjoy being renters and the most common argument against land lording you read about on the Internet. I agree with both of them.

Unfortunately, though, I had to deal with one leaky toilet tank a few days ago. It was not the first time I had to deal with one either, it is part of being a homeowner.

When it comes to water leaks, I do my best to get things fixed as soon as possible. A water leak, no matter how small, can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare, it not only has the potential to cause extensive damage to your home, but it can also cause some health and safety issues.

As soon as I noticed the leak, I got on it. Fortunately, leaky toilets, especially if they are leaking from the tank bolts, are an easy fix. Let me show you how to do it.

FIXING A LEAKY TOILET

There are a few places where a toilet can leak:

  • The bottom/base (hopefully not)
  • The main water connection
  • The tank/bowl connection/gasket
  • The bolts

All of them are easy fixes. However, the first one requires removing the toilet and replacing the wax seal, so it takes more time than any of the others.

If the leak is on the main water connection, you may need to inspect the connection hose as well as the water supply inlet/ballcock, and replace as necessary.

The next two are the ones I show you on this post.

HOW TO FIX A TOILET LEAKING FROM THE TANK BOLTS

STEP 1: INSPECT THE AREA AND DETERMINE WHERE THE WATER IS COMING FROM

Before I was able to determine that the toilet was leaking from the tank bolts, I had to inspect it. As I said before, there are a few places where a toilet can leak. Make sure you thoroughly check the area.

Leaks from the bottom or the main water connection should be easier to spot, however, if you look closely between the tank and the bowl, you should also be able to see or feel the water in between the two. Take your time, as this step is necessary to determine what tools or parts you need to fix it.

Once you have determined that the leak is, in fact, coming from the tank bolts, you can go ahead and get a Toilet Tank/Bowl kit.

STEP 2: SHUT OFF THE TOILET SUPPLY VALVE, FLUSH THE TOILET & EMPTY THE TANK

This repair involves completely removing the toilet tank. Before you do that, it is a good idea to completely empty it.

To do this, you can go ahead and shut off the toilet water supply valve, flush the toilet and then use a sponge to get the rest of the water left in the tank.

STEP 3: DISCONNECT THE WATER SUPPLY LINE

Once you have made sure that the tank is completely empty, you can proceed and disconnect the water supply line. Some of them can be removed by hand, others may require a small wrench or channel lock pliers. Be prepared, some water may still leak from the ballcock.

How to fix a leaky toilet tank

Disconnecting the water supply line

STEP 4: REMOVE TOILET TANK, OLD BOLTS

Using the same wrench or channel lock pliers, remove the nuts that hold the toilet tank in place. They should not be really tight as it is recommended to just hand-tight them to avoid breaking the porcelain tank or bowl.

If the bolts start spinning, you will need a screwdriver to hold them inside the tank. If the bolt’s head is completely rusted (it happens), you may need an extra set of pliers to hold them while you try to turn the nut.

Removing nuts from toilet tank bolts

Removing toilet tank bolts

 

When removed, place the tank on top of the toilet bowl, or on any other place that makes it comfortable enough for you to work on it.

STEP 5: REPLACE TANK TO BOWL GASKET – ANOTHER WAY TO FIX A LEAK BETWEEN THE TOILET TANK AND BOWL

This is an optional but, highly recommended step. And it is the one you need to complete when you have a toilet leaking from the tank to bowl gasket.

In this case, since you have already removed the tank, it makes sense to go ahead and replace this gasket as well. I would not want to fix the leak from the bolts and then have to remove the tank a few weeks later to fix a leak from this gasket. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to either.

Replacing toilet tank gasket

Removing the old toilet tank gasket

 

Fixing a leaky toilet installing new toilet tank gasket

Installing a new toilet tank gasket

 

New toilet tank gasket

New toilet tank gasket

STEP 6: INSTALL THE NEW BOLTS, GASKETS, WASHERS AND NUTS

The Toilet Tank/Bowl Kit instructions said that you were supposed to use the bolt, one washer and then one rubber gasket inside the tank, then on the bowl side, another gasket, washer, and nut.

Other than to protect the porcelain, I didn’t see the point of having that extra gasket on the bowl side, the idea is to avoid having leaks from the bolts, so I decided to do it differently.

Since I had two extra washers and nuts from the existing bolts (you should too) I went ahead and not only put the gasket and washer inside the tank but also used the extra ones outside the tank and held them in place with the extra nuts. In my opinion, this double gasket set up should work better than a single gasket one.

New toilet tank gasket and bolts

The new toilet tank gasket and bolts

 

Toilet tank gasket and bolts

The new toilet tank gasket, bolts and extra gaskets and washers outside the tank

 

New toilet tank bolts, gaskets and washers

Using the extra nuts to hold the extra gaskets and washers in place

 

Then, I used the new washers and nuts to hold the tank to the bowl, as described in the next step.

STEP 7: REPOSITION TANK, INSTALL EXTRA WASHERS, AND NUTS

As I described in the previous step, with the bolts in place, I repositioned the tank and used the extra washers and nuts to hold it in place. As I said earlier, do not over tighten the nuts, as this could break the toilet tank, the bowl or both.

Installing the toilet tank

Putting the toilet tank back in place

 

Toilet leaking from tank gasket

Using the slip lock pliers to tighten the nut just a bit

 

STEP 8: RECONNECT THE WATER SUPPLY LINE

With the toilet tank back in place, you can go ahead and reconnect the water supply line. Do not over tighten this one either, as doing so you can damage/break the threads on the ballcock or cause leaks.

Toilet water supply line

Reconnecting the toilet water supply line

 

STEP 9: TURN THE WATER BACK ON AND MAKE SURE THERE ARE NO LEAKS

Before moving on to the next project, turn on the water supply valve and check for leaks.

I recommend checking around the main water connection you just turned on, the tank/bowl connection/gasket and the bolts you just replaced. Make adjustments as necessary.

Readers, have you ever had to deal with a leaking toilet? Was it leaking from any of the parts I mention? Did you enjoy the experience?

Need to fix your own toilet leaking from the tank bolts? This is what you need:



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