How to Reset a Toilet? – A Quick Guide

Written by

Paulk Webb


Freddie J. Hagopian

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how to reset a toilet

If the toilet wobbles side to side, it could be due to a worn-out wax ring, broken toilet flange, or a toilet loose at the base. In more severe cases, there may be leaks around the toilet base. If it is, you must reset the toilet to fix the problem.

Resetting a toilet means removing the toilet from its base and replacing the toilet wax ring to reseal the toilet to the drain.

Learning how to reset a toilet will be helpful for you. It’s easy and takes only 30 minutes to an hour, and you’ll only need to spend around $20 or less to do it.

Step-by-step Guide to Reset a Toilet


To know when you should reset the toilet bowl, keep an eye out for three main signs.

  • Check for water leaks around the bowl’s base, but ensure it’s not just a spill.
  • Be aware of any bad smells in the bathroom, as sewer gas can be dangerous.
  • Look for any damage to the floor or ceiling, which might mean water is seeping underneath the flooring.

If you see any of these signs, it’s time you gather the tools and follow this simple step-by-step guide.

Are you ready?

Step 1. What to prepare


  • Adjustable wrench
  • New toilet wax ring
  • Putty knife or plastic scraper

Step 2: Disconnect the water supply


First, you must turn off the shut-off valve. This is typically connected to a pipe on the bottom left of the toilet. To stop the water, just turn it clockwise.

Remove the water from the tank and bowl by flushing the toilet.

If your toilet has a separate tank attached to the bowl:

  • Lift off the lid of the tank and set it aside.
  • A water supply line will connect the tank to the shut-off valve. Disconnect the line from the tank using an adjustable wrench. Turn the nut counterclockwise and loosen it.
  • Unfasten the mounting bolts on the tank’s underside and carefully lift off the tank.

Once you’re done, you can proceed with the next steps to pull and reset the toilet.

Step 3: Lift the toilet


3 things you’ll need to accomplish here:

  1. Locate the closet bolts, which are long screws that attach the toilet to the floor flange. You can find them on the base of the toilet, usually covered by caps or plastic covers. Remove the caps covering the bolts.
  2. Using an adjustable wrench, loosen the nuts attaching the toilet and the closet bolts. Turn the nuts counterclockwise to loosen them. There are typically two nuts, one on each side of the toilet base, which must be loosened.
  3. Lift the toilet off the floor. You may need some effort to break the seal between the wax ring and the floor flange. After lifting the toilet, set it aside in a safe and clean area.

Be careful when lifting the toilet in order to avoid straining your back, and make sure not to drop the toilet, as this could damage it.

Step 4: Remove the old wax ring


Once the toilet is removed, you will see the old wax ring seated on the floor flange. The toilet wax ring is a soft, pliable ring that reseals a toilet to the floor.

  • Using a plastic scraper or putty knife, remove the old wax ring. Gently scrape off the wax. During this process, be cautious not to damage the floor flange or the toilet’s base.

After you have removed most of the wax, take a rag or paper towel to wipe the bottom of the toilet and the floor flange clean. Make sure there are no leftover bits of the old wax ring or any debris left behind.

Step 5: Apply a new wax ring


After successfully removing the old wax ring,  inspect the floor flange for any damage or issues. A broken toilet flange may cause a shaky toilet. If this is the case for you, replace the toilet flange to fix a wobbly toilet.

  • Get a new wax ring. Ensure it’s the right size and type for your toilet model.
  • The wax ring should be centered on the bottom of the toilet, with the narrow end facing the drain hole. The wax ring should fit securely around the flange opening.

Make sure the closet bolts on the floor flange align with the holes on the toilet base. The wax ring should fit tightly around the bolts.

Step 6: Set the toilet back in place


Carefully lower the toilet base onto the new wax ring.

Check if:

  • The toilet is level.
  • The wax ring is compressed evenly (If not: Gently press down firmly on the toilet base to compress the wax ring between the toilet and the floor flange).
  • The toilet base aligns properly with the closet bolts on the floor flange.
  • The bolts should fit through the holes on the base without any resistance.

Once the toilet is in place, reattach the nuts onto the closet bolts at the base of the toilet. Start by hand-tightening the nuts and then snugly tightening them with a wrench.

If your toilet has a separate tank, reconnect the supply line of water using an adjustable wrench. Since you removed the tank earlier, you need to reattach it to the bowl using the mounting bolts.

Turn the shut-off valve counterclockwise. Flush the toilet. Check for any signs of leaks around the base.

If there are no leaks and the toilet flushes properly, you did a great job setting the toilet back in place!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my toilet lifting off the floor?

There are a few reasons your toilet might be lifting off the floor. It could be loose closet bolts, a damaged floor flange, or an uneven floor.

Check the bolts on each side and gently tighten them. If the toilet is still loose, use plastic shims between the flange and the floor to stabilize a toilet.

How much is a wax ring for the toilet?

A wax ring for a toilet typically ranges from $5-$20. It may also vary based on the brand and quality.


After learning these simple steps on how to reset a toilet and using the right tools, you won’t have to worry about your toilet not resetting.

Resetting a toilet is relatively easy and simple if approached with care and attention.

Take your time and follow these guidelines to reset your toilet without any leaks or damage. Remember, it’s better to seek professional help if you encounter any difficulties. 

With the right steps, resetting your toilet can be a straightforward and satisfying DIY project!

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