Would you like to wake up to see a leaking toilet on the bathroom floor? Not me. Some days it feels like home-ownership has zero rewards. I was summoned to my daughters bathroom to see a small (pretty clear thank goodness) leak on the floor. I immediately started to wonder, did the wax ring fail or a seal on the tank? While it is not a hard job to replace a wax ring, it is a pain.
The seals on the tank are a little more troublesome and are unique to each brand. For the wax ring, it is a pain mainly due to working on what is known as “gray water” and of course a heavy toilet. Typically you may also have a minimal amount of space to work in. This is one post in the long line of maintenance tasks we have been working on since we moved in.
Analysis of what is leaking
I would have called up my friends over at Water Puro – they are a full service water treatment company as well as a general plumber. They will redo your entire house water filtration system to have clean and soft water, install a hot water tank system or will also do general repair. The owner who has done many jobs for me say’s working on gray water is not their favorite thing (which I can understand) but I mainly held off as this was a DIY job that I could handle. I would say most of you can handle this job with somewhat ease as long as you know what to do.
The guys over on their website have a great visual we can use here. They can also service your home 24/7 so if it is the weekend and you can’t tackle this job yourself you can call them or a local company like Water Puro.
This is solid advice from them:
“The first thing you do if with a toilet leaking at the base is stop using it. The water that’s leaking from the bottom is dirty water, which was in the bowl when it was used. This water may have an odor to it and may be causing damage to the subfloor, so the best course of action is to stop using this toilet, if possible, until you’ve been able to repair a leaking toilet.”
Leaking Toilet – FAQ
How do you know if the toilet is leaking at the base or from somewhere else?
A leaking toilet is a real problem but you can identify if the leak is from the tank or the base by simply grabbing a paper towel. Take the paper towel and run along the backside of the toilet water tank. If it stays dry, most likely it is from the Wax seal and that will need to be replaced.
How do you replace a Wax Ring on a leaking toilet?
See detail instructions below. The short list: Turn off the water supply and flush and empty the water tank on the back of the toilet. Grab a cardboard box to set the toilet on once removed. Remove the lag bolts on the sides of the toilet. Now lift and remove the toilet to inspect the ring. To install is the reverse with sicking the new wax ring on prior to securing it to the floor.
Can I replace a Wax Ring without a Plumber?
It all depends on how handy you are. In concept it is not complicated at all, just a couple of bolts and the ability to pick up roughly 50 lbs? If you can do that, and can align things well – you will do just fine. What is the worst that can happen? You are out $19 for a wax ring? Trust in yourself, you can do more than you think.
How important is it to fix a leaking toilet?
If you have a toilet leaking on your floor and it’s rocking back and forth, chances are your toilet flange (also called closet flange) / wax ring is broken or deteriorating. This is mainly due to improper installation. Although rather common, a damaged toilet flange must be repaired as soon as possible to prevent leaks that could cause serious damage to your flooring or tile.
Leaking Toilet – DIY Repair
– REPAIR PROCESS
Approx. Total Time 42 minutes
EMPTY WATER FROM TOILET (5 Minutes)
Not a hard concept but not always easy to do. Remove as MUCH water as possible. One trick, flush the toilet with one hand and hold it open. Use the other hand to turn off the water connection at the wall. This will keep momentum in the toilet bowl and empty the tank on the back of the toilet. Once you get the water valve turned off continue to hold the plunger down. If there is just a little water left over you maybe OK and good to go.
REMOVE LAG / Johni – BOLTS (2 Minutes)
All toilets are secured to the floor by a bolt on either side of the toilet flange. This is what the wax ring is typically connected to (under the toilet). Those two bolts (I think 10 MM) can be removed with ease unless rusted. If they are, spray WD40 on them and come back in 10 minutes. If you have an adjustable wrench that may work too for removing. Don’t forget COUNTER Clockwise to remove.
REMOVE THE TOILET (5 Minutes)
With the lag bolts loosened and removed, stand over the toilet and reach near the back of the bowl. If it is just you, Pick it up and have a piece of Cardboard near by to set the toilet on. Slowly walk it over the cardboard and set it down.
INSPECT FLOOR FLANGE (5 Minutes)
You may see an area that has created a dirty ring (where the base of the toilet sits). In many cases you can clean this up with a couple of paper towels and a metal paint scraper. Make sure to grab some bleach and disinfect the area since you are there. While in most cases it will only be from gray water, it still should be disinfected properly.
INSTALL WAX RING (5 Minutes)
Tilt the toilet to the side (if you have a friend who can help even better) and clean off anything on the bottom of the toilet. Place new wax ring seal on top of the flange in the floor. Make sure it is centered.
REINSTALL TOILET (10 Minutes)
Place the toilet down over the toilet flange and lag bolts. If you are not 100% lined up, slowly move the toilet side to side back and forth into position. Stand back and make sure it looks even with the wall. Final step is to sit down on the seat. Your extra weight will compress the wax ring and seal it into place.
Go ahead and secure the lag washers and nuts (SNUG FIT).
CONNECT WATER (10 Minutes)
Connect the water supply and turn on. Make sure the tank fills and flushes properly with no leaks. Check in a couple of days for any leaks and make one last pass on the lag bolts (do not OVER tighten just make sure they are snug and the toilet doesn’t rock back and forth).
Estimated Cost: 25 USD
- Oversized Wax Ring
- Wrench (adjustable can work fine) or 10 MM socket
- Small bucket for removing water
- Paint scraper
Materials: Gloves, Roll of Paper towels, Plastic bag
Until next time!