If your toilet flange bolts are rusted and resist removal, first try spraying the rusted bolt with penetrating oil and allow it to soak for 15 minutes. Once the oil has soaked in for 15 minutes, use a socket wrench to attempt to remove the bolt. If that doesn’t work, you will need to cut the bolt off. The preferred way to cut the bolt is with a dremel equipped with a metal cutting wheel. However, an oscillating tool, angle grinder, or mini-hacksaw can all be safely used to cut off a rusted flange bolt. Avoid using bolt cutters or attempting to snap the bolt off with force, as this may crack your toilet.
5 Methods to Remove Rusted Toilet Flange Bolts
Most methods for removing a rusted toilet flange bolt involve using cutting tools to cut through the bolt between the nut and the washer. To avoid injury, it’s important to wear safety gear while working.
Wear the following when cutting rusted bolts:
- Eye protection
- Dust mask
- Work gloves
Always work in a safe environment. If you are working to remove a toilet, it’s key to shut off and unhook the water supply. Then, flush the toilet to drain as much water as possible from the tank and bowl. If you’ve done all this and have encountered a rusted flange bolt, attempt the following techniques.
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Penetrating Oil and Wrench
Spray the rusted bolt with penetrating oil and allow it to soak for 15 minutes. This time is required for the toil to work into the bolt threads. Once the oil has finished penetrating, use a socket wrench and an appropriately sized socket to attempt to loosen the bolt.
- Spray the bolt with this penetrating oil and allow the oil to soak for 15 minutes.
- Attempt to loosen the bolt with a socket wrench.
- If the entire bolt assembly turns when you use a socket wrench, use pliers to hold the threaded bolt in place while you attempt to loosen the nut with an adjustable wrench.
Sometimes, rusted flange bolts resist removal because the base of the bolt turns along with the nut. When this happens, the entire bolt assembly spins. In these cases, allow the penetrating oil to work. Then, attempt to hold the visible part of the bolt with pliers while trying to loosen the nut with an adjustable wrench.
If penetrating oil and wrench fails, there’s no alternative to cutting the bolt. The best tool for the job is a dremel rotary tool. It is designed for precision work, so it can be maneuvered in tight spaces around the base of the toilet. A dremel also has a continuous cutting motion that is not likely to cause jarring stress that could crack your toilet base.
- Use this Dremel equipped with a metal cutting wheel to cut the bolt.
- Cut carefully to avoid chipping the toilet itself.
- Attempt to use the cutting wheel to cut the bolt between the nut and the washer.
- If you cannot cut between the bolt and washer, cut at a 45-degree angle through the nut and bolt.
The best way to cut through a rusted bolt is by guiding the cutting wheel to slice through the bolt at the point between the washer and the nut. This will help protect the toilet from any damage. If the nut is too tight for this to be an option, slice through both nut and bolt at a 45-degree angle. Work slowly and carefully to avoid bringing the cutting wheel into contact with the toilet itself.
An oscillating cutter is another great tool for cutting through rusted bolts in tight quarters. The blade moves very little and is usually thin enough to fit between the washer and nut, making the cut easy.
- This oscillating tool will make quick work of rusted toilet flange bolts.
- As with the Dremel, attempt to cut through the bolt between the washer and nut.
- Work slowly, to prevent the oscillating tool from vibrating too much and causing stress to the ceramic toilet around the bolt.
Allow the blade of the oscillating tool to do the work. Very little pressure is needed. Putting too much pressure on the tool of the blade can cause it to snag, which will increase the strain it puts on the ceramic toilet. The goal is to cut through the bolt without stressing the neighboring ceramic.
Although it is less precise than a dremel or oscillating tool, an angle grinder can be used in a pinch to cut through a rusted toilet flange bolt. The key to using an angle grinder to cut through a flange bolt is to turn the blade up, with the blade cover facing down (toward the floor). Then, position the angle grinder blade so that it cuts through the nut and bolt at a 45-degree angle without coming into contact with the toilet.
- Turn the angle grinder so that the blade cover is facing the floor.
- Cut through the nut and bolt at a 45-degree angle.
- Wear heavy-duty protective gear when using an angle grinder in this fashion.
Angle grinders are prone to throwing sparks as they cut. When using this tool, it’s best to wear heavy gloves and a full face mask for your protection.
Who needs power tools? A mini-hacksaw can make short work of toilet flange bolts. Not only is the hacksaw blade thin, but flange bolts are often made of soft materials, such as brass. This means your manual cutting job shouldn’t take long.
- This mini-hacksaw is perfectly suited to the close-quarters work of cutting toilet flange bolts.
- A hand saw produces no sparks and is easy to control.
One of the benefits of using a hand saw is that you have total control. There is a very low risk of chipping or damaging your toilet with this method.
Methods to Avoid When Removing Rusted Toilet Flange Bolts
Do not attempt to use bolt cutters to remove rusted toilet flange bolts. Forcing the jaws of a bolt cutter between the nut and washer as you try to snip the bolt exerts a lot of pressure on the toilet itself. You are extremely likely to snap a portion of your toilet base with this method.
- Do not use bolt cutters to attempt to cut the bolt off.
- Do not try to snap bolts with a wrench or hammer.
- Methods that use the toilet for leverage risk cracking the porcelain toilet.
Similar to bolt cutters, do not attempt to use a socket wrench, hammer, or another tool to twist, smash, or snap off the rusted bolt. There is a high risk of cracking or breaking the ceramic around the bowl, ruining your toilet in the process.
How Do You Remove a Rusted Flange Bolt?
The best ways to remove a rusted toilet flange bolt are:
- Spray the rusted bolt with penetrating oil. Then, use a wrench to loosen the nut.
- Cut through the bolt using a Dremel equipped with a metal cutting wheel.
- Use an oscillating cutter with a metal cutting blade to slice through the bolt.
- Cut the bolt using an angle grinder.
- Try a mini-hacksaw to cut through the bolt by hand.
Once you’ve removed the rusted flange bolt with one of these methods, all you have to do is lift the toilet up and off its flange. You can then replace or repair plumbing parts as necessary from there.