If water accumulates regularly around your toilet, this could be a bad sign. It is very likely that your toilet is leaking at the base. Does it happen whenever you flush your toilet? If so, you will need to fix that leak before it turns your bathroom into an indoor pool!
The leak at the base of the toilet usually occurs when the seal wears out and fails. That may happen sooner or later. A toilet can last for more than 30 years with minimal care.
However, if the seal beneath the toilet fails for some reason, water will start leaking out and spilling on the floor. This can cause structural damage and wreak havoc on your bathroom.
Luckily, this kind of leak isn’t difficult to identify and repair. In most cases, all you need to do to fix this problem is to replace the wax ring and tighten the tee bolts of your toilet.
This is easier said than done, especially if you don’t have experience with toilet plumbing. Don’t worry, we will help you repair a leaking toilet.
In this article, we’re going to provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to fix your leaky toilet when flushed. You will learn how to install a flexible water supply tube, set up a toilet wax gasket, tighten the tee bolts, make a watertight seal, and much more.
Ready to get started? Let’s dig a bit deeper into why this is happening.
Why Is My Toilet Leaking Around the Base and How Do You Fix It?
Before moving forward with the toilet repair, you should have a clear understanding of why your toilet is leaking.
As we have mentioned earlier, this can happen due to the loose tee bolts or damaged wax ring, which can make the seal fail.
Loose Tee Bolts
You may have noticed plastic caps at the toilet base. These caps cover tee bolts which keep the toilet securely in place.
If the tee bolts get damaged or come loose, the seal of your toilet will break and cause leaks.
You will need to slightly alter the position of your toilet – by leveling and centering it – before starting to tighten the tee bolts. If they are broken or keep spinning freely, you will have to buy a new replacement set.
Damaged Wax Ring
If the water continues to seep out from the base of your toilet after tightening the tee bolts, there is a good chance the wax ring is the cause of the problem.
Wax ring tends to get damaged over time, which can cause your toilet to leak at the base.
Be sure to replace the damaged wax ring as soon as you can. In the meantime, don’t use the toilet if possible.
The dirty water that leaks out from your toilet will make your bathroom an unhealthy place. Moreover, it can damage the flooring, subfloor, and the ceiling beneath the toilet if left untreated.
How to Fix a Leaky Toilet Base
Now that you know what can cause your toilet to leak at the base, it’s time to dive into fixing a leaky toilet. Without further ado, let’s dig into it.
Locate the Problem
First of all, you should find the problem and identify the cause of leakage.
Water pooling at the toilet base usually indicates that the wax seal of your toilet has failed. Sometimes the problem may lie elsewhere, though.
Water on the floor may also occur due to other leaky parts of your toilet. That’s why you will need to check if it comes from the base of your toilet. So how to locate the problem?
Use a sponge to absorb the water around the toilet and dry it off with a rag or towel. When a puddle forms again on the floor, take a closer look at where the water seeps out from. Make sure it doesn’t come from a sweaty bowl, cracked tank, loose supply tubes, or faulty shutoff valves.
If the water leaks from the toilet base, simply tighten the bolts that fasten your toilet to the floor. Unscrew the caps that cover the bolts with a slotted screwdriver or putty knife.
Then tighten every bolt alternately with a wrench, little by little. The leak is going to stop if you are lucky. However, if it didn’t help, you will have to replace your wax gasket.
Tighten The Tee Bolts
Once you have located the problem and make sure the water leaks from the base of your toilet, you will need to remove the cause of the leak. Check if your toilet is tightly bolted to the floor.
If it comes loose, the wax ring will not provide the proper seal and your toilet will start leaking at the base.
The tee bolts serve to fasten your toilet securely to the floor. You should tighten these bolts to stop the leak if the problem doesn’t lie in a wax ring. Here’s how to do it in a few simple steps:
- Make sure your toilet is correctly positioned.
- Get the plastic caps off the bolts.
- Tighten the tee bolts with an adjustable wrench so that your toilet is fastened securely in place.
You will need to replace the anchor bolts if they spin freely or are frozen. It will not be a hard task if your toilet is already removed. When it comes to older toilets, make sure not to ruin tee bolts when removing the rusted nuts.
Replace a Wax Ring
When the toilet seal gets broken, it is important to replace a failed wax ring to stop a toilet from leaking around the base.
This is not costly damage given that the wax rings only cost a few dollars. However, it is a time-consuming repair that may take a few hours. Basically, this job involves removing and replacing the toilet.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to replacing the old wax ring:
- Step 1: Before replacing a wax ring, you need to loosen the nut on the shut-off valve. This valve is usually placed in the basement or behind the toilet. Simply turn the handle clockwise to turn off your water supply.
- Step 2: Drain the sitting water from the tank by holding down the handle and flushing your toilet. You should also loosen the nut that holds the valve in place to remove leftover water at the base of your toilet.
- Step 3: Now you can unscrew your water supply to lift your toilet off the floor. This includes a few smaller operations, such as prying the bolt caps, removing the tee nuts, and breaking the wax seal.
- Step 4: Remove the toilet from the floor and gently set it down on its side. You can place it on cardboard or blanket.
- Step 5: Remove the failed wax gasket. Clean away the wax ring with a putty knife. Make sure there’s no leftover residue or dry wax at the flange and base of your toilet.
- Step 6: Replace the corroded tee bolts if any. Also, replace the whole flange if it is bent or cracked. You can also fill in the gap with a crescent-shaped repair strap (a cheaper but less reliable solution).
- Step 7: Install a new wax ring by placing it over the closet flange. Make sure the wax gasket is centered properly before repositioning the toilet.
- Step 8: Install your toilet in its primary position. Push it in the wax ring with the use of your body weight to make an airtight seal. You should consider replacing your toilet if it with a new one if it has chrome plated copper pipe.
- Step 9: Screw the toilet bolts into place and turn on the water supply by opening up the shutoff valve.
- Step 10: At last, check the base of your toilet for leaks. Flush it several times and inspect if there is any leak from the seal. If you notice a puddle, try pressing down on the toilet bowl. Tighten the bolt nuts a little bit more. Before caulking the toilet, you are advised to wait a couple of days to make certain that the leaking problem is really solved.
Caulk Around Your Toilet
It should be noted that caulking isn’t a solution for toilets that leak at the bottom.
Instead, it is intended to prevent various sources from reaching the toilet base.
Once the water gets trapped below the base, it can cause odors and mold.
The caulking can make it easier for you to clean up the water by keeping it out on the floor.
This is a double-edged sword. While the caulk can prevent bacteria from spreading, it conceals any leaks. Some homeowners are required by the building code to caulk around their toilets in some municipalities.
If you decide to caulk around your toilet, or if you are obliged to do it, it’s advisable to use a mildewproof, high-quality caulk.
Be sure to repair the leaking bottom before putting caulk around the toilet. Don’t lift the tank when removing your toilet.
Why You Need to Fix Your Leaky Toilet Now
A leaky toilet will not only cause mold growth in your bathroom but it will also increase your water bills. This is why you should quickly address any leak around your toilet.
While many people can fix a leaky toilet base themselves, it’s best to call a professional local plumber. Aside from saving you time by making the repairs for you, it will ensure that the job is done right.
If you are a do-it-yourself enthusiast or want to save on toilet repair, read through our guide once again.
Whether you just need to tighten tee bolts or replace the old wax ring, take the time to examine each step. It is worth the effort.