How to Remove Rusted Toilet Tank Bolts: 5 Steps Only

Written by

Paulk Webb


Freddie J. Hagopian

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how to remove rusted toilet tank bolts

If you’ve tried to replace all the innards of your toilet tank, you probably encountered some rusted toilet anchor bolts. These components are essential to seal the water inside the tank, but they can get damaged with rust over time. For this reason, you’ll need to know how to remove rusted toilet tank bolts for easy replacement.

Taking out the rusted toilet tank bolts should be fairly easy. All you need is a few tools like a pair of pliers, a wrench, and vise grips. Keep reading to learn the steps below.

Step-by-step Instructions

Typically, you can find 2-3 bolts in two-piece toilet models. These bolts help create a secure attachment between the two parts. When these bolts get rusty, you can do these steps.

Step 1: Prepare The Toilet


It’s a huge problem when your toilet bowl screws rusted. Before tinkering with these bolts, you should make the right preparations. 

  1. First, shut off the water supply. Look for a valve that’s usually located at the bottom left of the commode. Turn that valve clockwise with a wrench.
  2. Flush the toilet to release all the water inside the tank to gain easy access to the bolts.
  3. Open the tank’s lid and see if there’s still water remaining. If there is, soak it up with a thick cloth or sponge. Set the lid aside in a safe place.

Tip: Put a bucket under the water supply valve to catch drippings. You don’t want to cause flooding on your bathroom floor.

Step 2: Pull Out The Rusted Bolt


Most times, you can remove rusted bolts from the toilet tank by hand. Alternatively, you can use a wrench to break the rust between the bolt and the nut.

  1. The first step in removing corroded bolts is to hold the bottom of the bolt with a pair of vise grips.
  2. Get a wrench and turn the bolt counter-clockwise to loosen it in its place.
  3. Once the bolt is almost ready to be pulled out, you should be able to take the bolt off by hand. If you’re not successful, proceed to step 3 or 4.

Watch how to turn the bolt with a wrench in this video.

Step 3: Apply Lubricating Oil


If you can’t remove the rusted wing nuts, consider applying some lubricating oil, cola, or cider vinegar to loosen them first. 

  1. Spray some lubricating oil like WD40 under the wingnut. Let the formula sit for 15-30 minutes. If you use alternative solutions like cola or vinegar, dampen a piece of cloth, then apply it to the problem area on the toilet cistern. Leave the solution for an hour or so.
  2. Once the time has elapsed, loosen the rusted wingnut with large pliers and remove it with any removal tool.

Step 4: Use A Hacksaw


Another way to get rusted bolts off the toilet is to use a hacksaw. This method is recommended if you’ve got stuck toilet tank bolts that won’t budge no matter what. 

  1. Again, use the vise grips to hold the bolt at the bottom of the tank.
  2. Get a hacksaw and work its way to cut toilet tank bolts just below the head. This might take more effort, but it’s a great alternative if you can’t remove toilet tank bolts with a wrench or pair of pliers.

TIP: If you own a porcelain toilet, tape the surrounding area near the bolt to prevent scratching it from the blade.

Step 5: Install New Bolts

Removing the rusted bolts doesn’t end there when trying to ensure the best performance of your toilet. Once the old rust bolts are out, install new ones. 

  1. First, clean the holes where the old bolts were previously set.
  2. Assemble the bolt with a rubber washer in the package, then insert it into the hole. Make sure that the bowl and tank are aligned properly.
  3. Now, go to the bottom of the bolts and tighten the nuts with a wrench.

Why Did My Toilet Tank Bolts Rust?


If you haven’t checked your toilet tank for years, don’t be shocked to see its bolts getting rusty. Here are a few reasons these bolts develop rust over time.

  1. Moisture: This is the top enemy of any metal bolts because they’re always submerged in water. When metal bolts are exposed to moisture, they develop rust over time. The best solution is to ditch your steel bolts with rust-resistant brass.
  2. Condensation: The invisible water vapor in the air also causes the bolts to rust. Much of this trouble happens when the atmosphere inside your bathroom is humid. To avoid this problem, ventilate your bathroom with a recirculating fan or an air purifier.
  3. Chlorine In Water: When the water contains chlorine, it weakens the composition of your steel bolts. It’s a bit difficult to remove chlorine entirely, but you can install a granular activated carbon filter in your water system.


Now that you’ve reached the end of this article, I hope you know how to remove rusted toilet tank bolts properly. It’s pretty easy.

  1. Shut off the water supply valve and empty the tank.
  2. Grab the bottom of the rusted bolt with vice grips and loosen it with a wrench. If you can pull it out, do so. If not, soak it first with a penetrating oil or cider vinegar to break down the rust.
  3. When the whole assembly only spins, you can cut the bolt with a hacksaw.

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