You’ve started to notice that your toilet is wobbling a bit when you sit down or stand up. Is a wobbly toilet bad? It certainly isn’t good. A toilet is designed to sit flush on the floor with proper support. If it is moving around, that means it isn’t flush. If left alone, the movement of the toilet could pull at the pipes that are attached to it and potentially cause a leak. Repair of a wobbly toilet may be simple, or it may be complex, depending on what is causing the issue. We’ll walk you through the causes and what you should do about them.

Don’t Try to DIY Fix a Wobbly Toilet

While some of the solutions we’re about to explain are pretty simple, you should really call a plumber when you have a wobbly toilet. It’s not because you can’t handle a wrench or a shim, but because you are likely to miss signs of a leak. If you fix the wobbly toilet but not the damage to the pipes they have caused, then a leak may continue beneath the toilet, where you can no longer detect it. Eventually, the water damage will become visible. But, a plumber can spot these signs and ensure that there is no leak before they fix the problem that is making your toilet wabble.

Loose Flange Bolts

The first potential cause of a moving toilet bowl is loose flange bolts. The flange connects the toilet to the drainpipe. It has bolts to hold the two parts together. If these have come loose, then the toilet may rock back and forth. This is especially bad because the movement will disturb the drainpipe. However, the solution is usually as simple as tightening the flange bolts with a wrench.

Wax Seal Issues

Where the toilet meets the floor, it has a wax seal. This is to prevent sewer gases from coming up into your home, which could smell bad and could be dangerous. The wax seal may have worn down unevenly, which could cause the toilet to rock. Or, the toilet may have initially been installed with a wax ring that is too thick. A high wax ring holds the toilet off the floor a bit and makes it unstable.

You can replace the wax seal if you find that it is a problem. Or, if it is too tall and still in good condition, you could use shims to hold the toilet in place–although this isn’t an ideal solution.

Use a Shim

When your plumber doesn’t discover another issue that could be causing the toilet to wobble, the likely culprit is an uneven bathroom floor. The solution is a little simpler than you might expect just use a shim to prop up the toilet where the floor is low. You have to be careful to balance the toilet well, as putting too much pressure on one side or the other will cause problems with the wax ring.

Ultimately, it is best to call a plumber when you have a wobbly toilet.