Toilet Repairs – The Wax Seal
There are only a few working parts in a toilet.
A recent call I was on, actually afforded me the opportunity to be able to make comments on all of these.
One problem was that there was water on the floor around the base of the toilet. It was observed that the water only appeared after using the toilet a few times.
There are several things that could cause this.
1. The wax seal could be leaking.
2. The rubber seal between the tank and the toilet could be leaking.
3. The bowel could be cracked.
4. The water supply line might be leaking.
5. Condensation may be accumulating around the toilet tank. (This happens sometimes in the Spring of the year when the water from the supply system is still cold and the humidity in the house starts to rise)
I had checked for leaking around the tank so that left #1,#3 and #4. All required removing the whole toilet.
Replacing The Wax Ring.
- Turn off the water to the tank. Flush the toilet to get most of the water out of the tank.
- Bail out the water from the bowl.
- If you take a bucket of water and quickly pour it into the bowl, it will usually make almost all the water empty out from the bowl sso you don’t have to bail as much out by hand.
- Now, use a small Dixie cup or something similar, to get a s much water as you can out of the bottom of the bowl.
- You don’t have to get ALL the water out, as long as the water level is below the level of the built in trap of the toilet bowl. But, the more you get out now, the less chance of water spilling out of the trap as you move it around. (And, of course, if you know you’re gonna be tipping the toilet on it’s side, you will want to get all the water out.)
- Remove the water supply line going to the tank. (Be careful, sometimes the shut off valve doesn’t work properly and you may still have pressure in the line. – You may have to shut the water off to the entire house just to get the toilet water turned off.) If you do that, it would be a good time to replace the shut off valve so it will work next time.
- Remove the nuts on the two anchor bolts holding the bowel to the floor.
- Lift off the tank.
- Be careful, the bowel will probably have wax on the bottom, so set the toilet on something or be prepared to clean wax off your floor.
- When the toilet is removed, you can fully inspect inside and out for cracks.
- While it’s off, you can make sure nothing is blocking the trap inside the toilet also.
If There Are No Cracks or Blockages
Finding nothing wrong, (This toilet was a little loose to the floor to start with, so I assumed it was just the wax seal leaking. I guess I could of just tried tightening the anchor bolts, but I wanted to check to see if the “toilet flange” was OK)
Everything looked good so —
You may find that someone before you had raised the floor level when reduing the floor. Often, new tile and or underlayment is installed over the old floor which makes the toilet flange not stick up above the floor enough to allow the wax seal to crush and form a tight seal between the toilet bowl and the toilet flange. Toilet flanges are about 1/4″ thick. Therefore, the top of the toilet flange should be about this same distance above the finished floor level.
A flange shim can be purchased to lay on top of the original flange so as to allow the proper compression of the wax ring you’re going to be installing.
Now’s the time to make sure the anchor bolts are going to be long enough to poke up thru the base of the bowel when you reinstall it. If you’ve done any reworking of the toilet flange or floor, the old bolts may not be long enough any more. You can buy wax ring kits that come with anchor bolts, or just buy the bolts separately. They are a special design made just for this purpose.(The head is elongated and thin so as to be able to slide into the slots in the toilet flange and not turn when attaching the nuts.) Ask for them specifically.
Be sure to scrape as much of the old wax as possible off the toilet and flange.
Push and twist to get the new wax seal to stick to the bottom of the bowl. Then reinstall the toilet over the floor flange, carefully aligning the anchor holes over the bolts as you go.
I always use the wax seals that have a plastic insert built into them. This helps insure the water leaving the bowl will flow into the sewer line and helps eliminate the possibility of water getting on top of the wax seal and then leaking out onto the floor. (SEE UPDATES BELOW)
Be sure to push down hard on the toilet to get it set onto the new wax seal. I actually sit on the toilet at this point to make sure it gets settled tightly into place If you don’t get the excess wax pushed out, the toilet will end up being loose after a few uses and your troubles will start all over.
Add Your Comments Below
New Style Toilet Seals
Here’s a relatively new product that I’m sure I will be using in most future repairs.
I recently used this product on 2 different toilets and boy are they nice! No messy wax and you can be sure the toilet is centered properly over the hole so there is no chance of leaks.
Upon using this product, it appears that having the floor level or higher than the toilet flange will not be a problem any more as this seal sticks directly to the toilet and is long enough to extend down into the drain with room to spare.
Since I didn’t know what size drain pipe I was working with until after I removed the toilet, I just purchased one of each size (3″ & 4″) and took back the one I didn’t need.
Another Seal That Works Well
I have used this seal a couple times with good results as well. It may perhaps be even better as the top part is more flexible and yet the bottom part extends down some distance below the toilet flange.
I have found that the Fernco seal mentioned above only works well on new toilets. (I have not found a way to totally remove the old wax and the glue on the Fernco does not stick to wax – nothing sticks to wax)
Therefore when replacing the toilet seal where wax was previously used, the 2nd choice has proven best. (Used it 5-6 times with no callbacks.)