Toilet Tank Wobbles and Worries

Plight of the Homeowner

One problem that you can add to the list of certainties in life (death and taxes, right?) is that a homeowner will have toilet troubles. That is to say jiggling the handle doesn’t fix it. Of course, this month we’ll be looking at one problem that can occur in most homes. You’re probably familiar with the troubles of an unsteady toilet, so we’re covering why your toilet tank wobbles and how to stop the wobble!

There are a few possibilities for the cause of the wobbling, and we’re going to look at a couple common reasons. We’ll also do our usual and cover a few ways for how you can fix it yourself.

NOTE: this is about the tank. Not the seat, wax ring, or toilet bowl. The seat wobbling could be a pretty easy fix depending on the bolts and materials. We have another article for what to do about an unsteady base.

Be sure to shut off the water before you try fixing toilet tank wobbles

An Important Step During Self-Repairs:

This might seem obvious, but when fixing toilet tank wobbles or replacing a sink, turn off your water main. Water damage can cause problems up to and including mold damage which can be costly to treat. So, it might be a good idea in several instances to shut off the water main or the water to the toilet. It’s also more important for bigger jobs, such as replacements, but better safe than sorry!

One: Loose Bolts

Depending on your toilet, you will probably find a valve connected to it, like the picture to the right. This knob between the tank and the wall will turn off the water to just your toilet. Just turn the valve until it’s tight, but you can still turn it when you’re done and drain the tank.

This is a simple fix. If the tank is wobbling, then there is possibly a loose bolt in the tank that keeps it attached to the bowl. In this case, you need to tighten them up a little bit. You don’t want them too tight as it could be difficult to remove or even start to crack the tank itself. Tighten your bolts by hand and make sure they all have about the same torque. You may need to drain the tank to reach all the bolts.

To drain a tank, turn off the water, then flush. Hold the lever down until the tank is completely empty. From there, you can work on the bolts to tighten them, or even replace them. Too tight will crack your porcelain. Turn them so they won’t turn anymore, but not so much that you can’t turn them back.

Replacement is easy as well – but make sure you’re using bolts that are appropriate. The water can make them corrode, leading to leaking and other problems. Once you’ve secured the bolts, turn the water back on and let it fill back up.

This is by far the easiest of the options and possibilities to solving toilet tank wobbles. If it still is shaking though, the problem may be a loose gasket.

If your toilet tank wobbles, the bolts, like shown here, might be loose.

Two: Loose Gasket

This is also something that you can probably fix on your toilet with a little bit of elbow grease. The gasket is the hole in the tank that connects to the bowl. It’s a rubber ring that helps seal the tank and keeps the water from getting out.

Replacing the gasket requires some preparation. You’ll have to drain the tank and remove the bolts and then remove the tank from the bowl. From there, turn the tank over and remove the gasket. You should be able to pull it right out. Then, slip a new one in. Be sure to check your new gasket for any additional instructions for installation. Then, just put everything back in its place and finish up by tightening the bolts.

If this does not fix your issue, there is a third possibility that could be causing your wobbly toilet issues.

Three: Cracked Tank

aluminum nuts

Like we said, this could happen if you tighten the bolts too much! Too tight and not only are they a pain to remove, but they could cause the tank to crack. A cracked tank could start leaking. Depending on how bad the cracking is, it could be anywhere from a fix with patching it to having to buy an entire new tank.

If you’ve got a tank and bowl that is all one piece, and your tank is wobbling – you’re in trouble. You may be able to patch it with something like putty or an epoxy that’s waterproof but it’ll only be a temporary fix. You will have to replace it eventually. You can do it yourself, but if you are worried, call a professional.


  • Terry Toner

    March 13, 2021 at 10:12 am Reply

    We just replaced all the insides of the tank with kits. Tank now wobbles back and forth. We noticed the gasket fitting between the tank and bowl was thicker than the old gaskets. Do we need to purchase gaskets with thickness of the old ones. Or could it be a different problem.

    • admin

      July 30, 2021 at 5:49 pm Reply

      If your toilet wasn’t wobbling before, and you replaced the gaskets with a different thickness, that could be the issue. If you didn’t replace the tank and just the tank insides, then I recommend making sure that the replacement gasket matches the old one. There are not too many different sizes for tank to bowl toilet gaskets. Check for leaking as well; that could help you narrow down your issue if the tank still wobbles after getting the right sized gasket.

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