How do toilet seat hinges work?
January 12, 2011 5:54 PM   Subscribe

If I unscrew my toilet seat hinges, will I be able to screw them back on?

My toilet seat is loose, and I think needs new rubber washers at the interface between the bowl and the hinges. Each time I retighten the hinge screws they work loose again in a matter of days. I would just unscrew it all, but the toilet bowl is completely sealed to the wall, enclosing whatever nuts or other receptacle the screws screw into. I'm worried that if I take the screws out completely to fit new washers, the nuts might fall away from the underside of the bowl necessitating a plumber call out to unmount the bowl from the wall.

In summary, I am asking what it is that the toilet seat hinge screws screw into, and if I can safely unscrew and rescrew those screws, without having access to the underside of the toilet bowl.
posted by roofus to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
they screw into plastic nuts that are on the underside of the toilet. you'll most likely need a screwdriver. it only takes a few minutes and is really easy to do. you can unscrew the nut completely from the bolt to remove the seat & replace, if you wish. new toilet seats come with their own nuts and bolts.

reach underneath, find that bolt and hold it in place when you tighten the top part. should solve your problem. if it gets loose again after that, just get a new seat.
posted by lester at 6:00 PM on January 12, 2011

Best answer: I've never seen a toilet like this however I wouldn't remove the bolts if I didn't know for sure the nuts were captive. Instead back them off a turn or two; squirt some blue locktite on the thread; and then tighten them up. Leave the locktite to cure for an hour or so and you should be good.

Make sure you use Blue locktite (which for some crazy reason comes in a red tube) because it is able to be disassembled with hand tools without heat. The red stuff is too high of strength.
posted by Mitheral at 6:03 PM on January 12, 2011

You really have absolutely no access to the underside of where the screws are? I've never seen that, but if that is the case, then the only way to be sure is to cut a hole in the wall to get access to it. No magic there -- as @lester said, they are simply bolts going into nuts; if you have no access to the nuts, it may not be possible to re-attach the bolts.
posted by peripatetic007 at 6:03 PM on January 12, 2011

The only problem with LockTite, of course, is that it can be a real pain to undo if you do want to replace the toilet seat at some point in the future. True, the blue stuff isn't AS strong, but it still locks the bolt pretty tight -- and if the space is as tight as you are describing you may be making it permanent if you can't get good leverage on it later.
posted by peripatetic007 at 6:05 PM on January 12, 2011

I'm with Mitheral - never seen one like this. Even the high-power flush units you find in a store's bathroom you can get access to the underside of the bowl. Perhaps if you took some pictures and linked to them, along with any makers marks?
If the unit is as you described, not only is the bolts inaccessible, the tank - if there is one - is also inaccessible, which is a bigger problem.

That being said - "Each time I retighten the hinge screws" - tells me that if the hidden nuts on the other side are probably fused to the unit somehow, otherwise you'd just spin in place.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:12 PM on January 12, 2011

Show us your toilet. We love looking at toilets.

If it keeps loosening, something is stripped.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:05 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

It may just be time to replace the toilet seat. Cheap ones need to be replaced once every other year, but even nicer ones don't last forever. I'm willing to bet there's some sort of access port you're missing, as this is a common maintenance task for any toilet.

The toilet seat is kept in place by plastic nuts - these can wear over time, especially if the hinge bolts are metal. Conversely, if the nuts are metal (and fixed into the porcelain, which may be the case on your toilet), and the bolts are plastic, you'll have the same situation.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:10 AM on January 13, 2011

I agree with what has already been said and just wanted to add that it is possible to get toilet set hinges with metal nuts and bolts, which are easier to get really tight and would work better with Loc-Tite should you go that route.

A picture of the toilet or a similar one might help someone figure out how to get to the nuts.

Finally, if you aren't using a wrench to hold the nuts and they aren't held in place by a recess on the bowl or something similar, you may not really be tightening them at all when you just turn the screws.
posted by TedW at 7:41 AM on January 13, 2011

Response by poster: I took the seat off, and it fixes with a special "top-down mechanism". The screw is surrounded in rubber, which expands to fit snugly as you tighten and compress it. $18 to replace them from my local plumbers merchant.
posted by roofus at 11:08 AM on February 13, 2011

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