How to Remove Rusted Toilet Tank Bolts?

Bolts and nuts come with the toilet to fix the tank and bowl, and you can select them separately if the old bolts become rusty or you want to replace the toilet.

How to Remove Rusted Toilet Tank Bolts? You can remove the rusted toilet tank bolts by turning off the water supply, cleaning water and moisture, applying penetrating oil, loosening the bolts with a wrench, cutting the bolts, and installing a new set of bolts. Constant exposure to water, chlorinated water, metal type, and iron concentration in hard water causes rust on the toilet bolts.

Removing the rusted toilet tank bolts looks difficult or sometimes impossible, but you can do this task if you have the essential tools.

How can you remove the rusted toilet tank bolts?

You can remove the rusted bolts from the toilet tank using the following steps. However, you can call a plumber if the plumbing fixture is in worse condition due to rust and mineral deposit.

Turn off the water supply

Start by turning off the valve supplying water to the toilet and the main supply line to prevent leakage and tank refilling.

There will be a handle or valve on the pipe which supplies water to the tank. Turn off this valve to stop the water from filling inside the tank when you flush it.

Place newspaper or rough towels on the floor to avoid damage to the flooring material and water leakage during bolt removal.

It is better to gather all essential tools before starting the task, such as a wrench, screwdriver, pliers, mini-hacksaw, and oscillating saw if you need to cut the metal bolts.

Remove the water and moisture from the toilet tank

Flush the toilet multiple times to remove all water from the tank, and use an old towel or large sponge to clean it thoroughly. Remove the moisture inside or outside the fixture, and let it dry properly before proceeding.

You can access the nuts and take them out without causing water to leak from the holes after removing them. 

Use a wire brush to clean the rusted nuts as much as possible and sandpaper to clean the adjacent area and the nuts.

The rust-removing oil or fluid cannot penetrate well if they are covered with moisture or water splashes. Therefore, clean the bolts and the area around them properly to remove moisture.

Apply the penetrating oil or fluid

Penetrating oils or fluids are designed to loosen the nuts and metal components accumulated with rust and corrosion. They have low viscosity and use vegetable oil with 10% acetone in their manufacturing to wick into the bolts.

They can penetrate into the threads and remove the rusty layer from the metal nuts. Next, spot the bolt that points towards the floor and is outside the toilet tank.

Select suitable penetrating oil and spray it on the rusted bolts and nuts. Let the oil stay for 15-20 minutes to soak into the threads and clean the rust around them.

Loosen the rusted bolts using a wrench

Take an adjustable or socket wrench to loosen the rusted bolts after the penetrating oil reacts to clean the hard corrosion layers.

It is possible that the nut and bolt assembly rotates without getting loose or moving out from their position if they are rusted highly.

It is better to loosen the nuts outside the tank pointing towards the floor using a wrench and rotate it anti-clockwise.

You can ask the helper to keep the inside head of the bolt in place, and you try to loosen it from the outside if the entire assembly rotates. This technique can help to lose the nut assembly without any need to cut it.

Cutting the rusted bolts if they do not turn

Cutting them if they do not turn after applying the penetrating oils is a better option to get the rusted nuts out without damaging the plumbing fixture.

You can use a mini-hacksaw, and oscillating saw with sharp blades to cut the metal and remove the bolt from both ends.

 Find the gap between the tank and the bowl where the bolt is attached and work slowly without harming yourself or the toilet tank and bowl.

It is better to put duct tape around this area to avoid scratches and marks on the porcelain surface, as the sharp blades can cause damage and make the toilet look unattractive.

Attach the new set of bolts

Clean the area around the holes with a soft cloth or a dishwashing liquid, and remove the rust from this area before setting the new bolt assembly.

Fix the nuts using a wrench or screwdriver and line up the tank correctly before tightening the nuts. Flush the toilet one to two times to check if there is any leakage around the plumbing fixture.

Why do toilet tank bolts rust?

There are many reasons for rusted toilet tank bolts; some are listed below.

Metal type

Toilet tank bolts are made using different metal materials like stainless steel, brass, and copper. As a result, they have different durability and resistance to rust and corrosion accumulation.

For example, stainless steel or zinc-coated steel bolts are more prone to rust accumulation over time than brass and copper materials.

Submerged in water constantly

The toilet tank bolts are constantly submerged in water, which causes them to become rusty. In addition, they are exposed to hard water, which makes the metal react with hard water chemicals and corrode over time.

Steel materials can get rusty when exposed to moisture for a long time, as the moisture level outside the tank can also cause the outside nuts to corrode.

The rust will build up over time, making it challenging to remove or replace the assembly without damage to the surface.

Chlorine-treated water cause rusting

Chlorination is the process of treating drinking water to remove bacteria, parasites, and other contaminants by adding chlorine to a safe level.

Chlorine-treated water can cause rust and corrosion on the bolts if you use this water for flushing the waste and filling the tanks.

The chlorine water causes an increase in rust accumulation on steel components and affects their lifetime. The cleaning solution with chlorine and bleach also leads to corrosion.

High iron concentration in water

Hard water has a high iron concentration, which enhances the rust to spread and collect on the steel materials.

Oxidation reaction occurs when iron in hard water reacts with the oxygen and deposits on the surface of the toilet and around the bolts.

Rust is actually the reaction of iron oxide on metal surfaces and causes reddish-orange compound steel and other materials.

High moisture around the plumbing fixtures leads to the reaction of iron with oxygen in water and air, which causes the steel or brass components to get rusty and stuck in their positions.

What happens if you do not remove the rusted toilet tank bolts?

It is essential to remove the rusted bolts from the toilet tank because they can cause different plumbing issues, such as water leakage around the toilet and inside the tank.

The rusty bolts can cause the toilet to wobble, and the chances of damage to the plumbing fixture increase. In addition, it looks unattractive and affects the appearance of the tank.

Mold can grow around the rusty components, which makes the environment unhygienic and cause bacteria and fungus around this area.

Rusted components cause leakage, which affects the flooring material, such as the wooden planks on the floor. As a result, the wooden floor can warp if you do not remove the rusted bolts and stop the leakage.

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