You woke up one day and learned you need a toilet seat replacement for sanitary or aesthetic reasons. But when you were about to install the new seat, you couldn’t unscrew the old one.
This article will teach you how to remove rusted toilet seat bolts so you can take off the toilet seat and clean it, or upgrade with your newly bought set. We also included rust prevention, so you’d know how to care for the fixings.
Table of Contents
- Explaining Toilet Seat Bolts
- Why Do Toilet Bolts Rust?
- Steps in Removing Rusted Toilet Seat Screws
- Tips for a Successful Rusted Nuts Removal
- How to Prevent Toilet Seat Bolts From Rusting
Explaining Toilet Seat Bolts
We use toilet seat bolts to anchor the seat into the bowl while allowing it to hinge up and down. The material used for them can be metal or plastic, but you will also see a mixture of both; the screws are made from metal, and the wing nuts are out of plastic.
Toilet seat fittings have different types:
- Top Fixings. The seats are screwed and tightened at the top of the pan.
- Bottom Fixings. The screws of the seats are inserted at the top of the pan and tightened underneath with wing (mounting) nuts.
Most toilets today are installed and tightened at the top to avoid removal problems. They also come with hidden fixings – or with hidden bolts – for the seats and are usually concealed by caps.
Why Do Toilet Bolts Rust?
These bolts are in the bathroom, where there’s a lot of moisture and water. Both can corrode metal which leads to rust.
Rusted bolts can make it hard to get a toilet seat off. That’s why many attach their seats with plastic screws.
Steps in Removing Rusted Toilet Seat Screws
Method 1: Use Penetrating Oil or Silicone Lubricant
What to prepare:
- penetrating oil for metal (e.g., WD-40, Liquid Wrench, PB Blaster)
- silicone-based lubricant for plastic (e.g. WD-40, CRC)
Before we go full-force in being a handyman, let’s first try to get the rusty bolts out of the toilet with a simple penetrating oil solution.
Safety precautions: Avoid contact with penetrating oil and lubricant as it may cause skin irritation, and long-term exposure may cause dermatitis.
Steps to follow:
- For hidden bolts, remove the plastic caps first to expose the screws.
- Apply penetrating oil onto the corroded bolts to loosen them. If you’re trying to remove stuck toilet seat plastic bolts, use a silicone-based lubricant.
- Leave it on for 15 minutes.
- Take your wrench and use it to hold the wing nut underneath. This will allow you to twist from the top without the nut twisting as well. If possible, get assistance.
- Use the correct screwdriver at the top, then twist the bolts out. After that, you can now remove the seat.
If this step doesn’t work for you, feel free to try our other methods.
Method 2: Cut the Screws
What to prepare: Dremel rotary tool or grinder
If the first method didn’t work, most likely, the toilet seat wing nut is stuck. But don’t worry; cutting through it is another option you can try. This will work on both rusted metal and stripped plastic nuts.
- Use cutting tools with caution to avoid scratching the porcelain.
- If you’re not confident using a cutting tool, get expert help.
- Position your Dremel or grinder at an angle that will cut through the screw and nut (try 45 degrees).
- Hold the tool steady and start cutting the bolts. When done correctly, you should be able to take out the excess screw from the top.
This method is straightforward, but you must do it with caution to avoid damaging the porcelain.
Method 3: Heat the Plastic Wing Nuts
What to prepare:
- putty knife
- butane torch
- face mask
Removing the toilet seat is difficult when the plastic wing nut is keeping the screw stuck from underneath, and you can’t twist it with a wrench because there isn’t enough space to maneuver.
- Ensure proper ventilation and keep a bucket of water beside you.
- Wear a face mask.
- Be careful not to point the torch at yourself or the toilet, as it can leave burn marks on the porcelain.
- Heat the putty knife with the butane torch.
- Touch the wing nut with the heated putty knife to melt it slowly.
- Repeat the process of heating up the putty knife and melting the plastic nut until the latter pops off.
- Once the bolts have melted, use a screwdriver to remove the screws from the top.
If there is no screwhead like in some types of seat screws designed only to be secured from underneath, you have to yank the entire seat out to remove it from the toilet.
Method 4: Pry the Bolts Out
What to prepare:
- vice grips
If you don’t have access underneath your toilet and it uses blind fixings (for top-fixing toilet seats), the problem could arise from stripped expansion bolts. The solution? Pry them out!
- Safety precautions: Ensure to use wood below the hammer, so the force of using the latter won’t harm the porcelain.
1. Remove the toilet seat. Newer toilets using top fixings for the seat have either:
- double-release lids
- pull-and-release lids
- single-button release lids
If necessary, cut the plastic seat out with vice grip pliers until we only have the screwheads visible on the toilet.
2. Lay out a piece of wood underneath the screw to prevent the force of the hammer from touching the porcelain later on.
3. Use the hammer’s claw to grip the screw from underneath and start pulling up to pry the screw out.
4. Once you pull the screw out, you’ll be left with a rubber gasket. You can take it out or simply push it underneath the bowl to make room for the new fixings.
5. Clean any dirt accumulated from the process, then you’re good to go and install your new bolts.
Tips for a Successful Rusted Nuts Removal
1. Have someone help you out. More hands mean extra force (when necessary), plus there will be more eyes to tell you if your tool is getting too close to the porcelain.
2. To remove the toilet seat metal fixings, always start by using penetrating oil or silicone lubricant if the bolts are stuck. Sometimes, this is all you need to screw them out!
3. If oils and lubricants don’t work, look at the problem before picking a removal method.
- Are the wing nuts plastic? You can melt it.
- Is the screw loose from the top, and you can pull it up a little? It means there’s a space in the wing nut underneath, and it will be easier to cut. But if the wing nut is tight, you can still cut it.
4. For toilets that have top-fixing toilet seats, they use blind fixings too. Meaning you won’t need access underneath to secure the bolts.
In this case, you’ll need to pull out the stripped expansion bolts from the top with a tool that can claw to the screw (the other end of a hammer or a pry bar).
5. Always follow safety precautions with all the tools and materials you will use to remove the fixings.
How to Prevent Toilet Seat Bolts From Rusting
- Use quality stainless steel bolts since they have more resistance to rust. Plastic bolts are also an excellent option because they don’t corrode.
- Clean the hinges regularly with a non-corrosive cleaner to avoid both rust and gunk buildup.
- If you’re using metal toilet seat bolts, consider applying rust inhibitor products such as WD-40 Specialist Corrosion Inhibitor or Rust Inhibitor from Stop Rust.
- You can also opt to buy new fixings or a new toilet seat that comes with fixings if there are already visible signs of rust from the old bolts.
Metal bolts corrode because of moisture and water. And while plastic ones can’t rust, they can become stripped. To answer how to remove rusted toilet seat bolts, there are different methods, but we recommend using penetrating oil first and then unscrewing them.
Other measures can be cutting the screw and nut off with a Dremel or grinder, melting plastic wing nuts using a hot putty knife to free the screw, and pulling the expansion bolt out with a claw for top-fitting toilet seat fixings.
I’m Paulk Webb, and I work as a writer for Saveourwaterrebates. I’m happy to put in the time and effort to conduct market research to identify the most pressing issues faced by households concerning their plumbing. Feel free to check out our guides to get the most informed recommendations for how to solve your problems.