Ever sat on a toilet to do your business and noticed the toilet rocks or moves? It may not seem like much of a concern, however it can easily become a big issue, if it hasn’t already. When toilets are installed there is a wax ring that goes between the toilet and the floor to create a water-tight seal between the toilet and the drain line. This wax ring is critical to preventing sewage from escaping the drainage system when the toilet is flushed. If a toilet is loose it is a sign the wax ring may not be creating a tight seal and sewage may be escaping, causing damage to the floor beneath. If the toilet is above an unfinished basement you may be able to see the damage occurring, however if there is a finished ceiling or crawlspace below you may be unaware to how much damage is being caused. The picture below is one example of the subfloor beneath a loose toilet where the wax ring has failed. In this instance the floor of the bathroom will need removed and a new subfloor installed.
To correct a loose toilet many people will tighten the bolts on either side of the toilet. Although this may stop the toilet from rocking, once water has escaped over the wax ring the wax ring is compromised and has a chance of not stopping water from leaking. For this reason the proper way to fix the loose toilet is to pull it from the floor, replace the wax ring, check for and repair any areas of water damage, then secure the toilet. There are many tutorials online that demonstrate how this is done, although it is cautioned to be careful tightening the bolts as you can over-tighten them and crack the ceramic toilet.