If you have to remove your toilet to fix a leak or replace it, one of the easiest parts of the job is removing the caps covering the bolts that hold the toilet to the flange. The operation may not look easy because the caps have no handles, aren't easy to grip and clearly won't come off by themselves. Don't worry — once you understand how the caps are installed, you'll instantly know how to get them off.
What's Holding the Caps On?
When you install a toilet, you hook the toilet bolts onto the flange, which is the fitting that holds it to the floor, and set the toilet in place with the bolts poking through the two holes at the base of the bowl. The next step is to screw on the nuts to hold the toilet down. Before you do that, though, there's one important thing to do first and that's to slide the plastic base of the cap onto the bolt.
Video of the Day
The cap base has a ridge around its perimeter, and it has to be installed with this ridge facing up. After the cap base goes on, it's followed by a metal washer and finally the nut, which you then tighten down to secure the toilet. The actual cap comes next, but it won't fit if the bolt is too long, so you might have to cut it. A handy video by CVideos demonstrates how the cap snaps on and also the advantages of using effort-saving snap-off toilet bolts.
Finally, you install the cap by fitting it onto the plastic base and pushing down until it snaps and locks. Now that you know how the cap was installed, you know how to remove it. It isn't glued or screwed on and you can pry it off.
Removing Toilet Bolt Caps
You'll need a tool with a flat edge that you can work under the cap. A flat-head screwdriver is ideal, especially one with a long handle for better prying, but a metal putty knife or even a kitchen knife will work. Slip the edge of the blade under the cap and pry upward. If the cap doesn't come right off, work the blade around it and pry in several locations, and it will come off eventually.
In some rare instances, the cap may be welded to the base by rust and hard water deposits so tightly that prying doesn't work. You shouldn't be hesitant about cutting off the cap with a utility knife if necessary because replacement caps are inexpensive and easy to find. Before you do that, try spraying lubricant around the base and waiting a few minutes before prying again. You can also try dousing the cap with vinegar, which dissolves hard water deposits better than lubricant, and waiting an hour or two before trying again.
Dealing With Rusty Bolts
If you're removing an old toilet with corroded bolts, getting the cap off is the easy part; removing the nuts from the bolts can be much more difficult. Spray rusted bolts generously with lubricant and wait 10 minutes, then try unscrewing them with a wrench.
One of the problems you may encounter, as described by Home Repair Central, is that the bolt spins along with the nut. In that case, prying up the side of the toilet bowl with a screwdriver may help by wedging the bolt head against the top of the flange so the bolt can't spin. In the end, the only solution may be to cut the bolt with a hacksaw.