Finding Plumbing Issues Early

Tips to Tackle That Leaky Toilet Base

by Chris Bowman

If you've been finding water accumulating around the base of the toilet, there's a good chance that the wax ring beneath the toilet base is leaking. Since leaks like this are both wasteful and potentially damaging to the floors, it's important to address the issue as soon as possible. You can call a local plumber to make the change for you, or you can replace it on your own. Here's a look at what you should know to tackle the job yourself.

Where Is the Ring?

The wax ring mounts to the top of the drain pipe where it meets the bathroom floor. It seals the space between the flange on the drain pipe and the toilet to prevent water leaks. Over time, the wax dries out and may even become compressed. When that happens, it causes a leak around the toilet base. You'll have to pull the toilet out to replace the ring with a new one.

How Do You Change the Ring?

  • Drain the Toilet – Before you can remove the toilet, you need to get rid of the water. Shut off the water to the toilet by turning the shut-off valve clockwise until it stops. The shut-off valve is usually near the floor behind the toilet. When the water's off, flush the toilet to drain the water from the tank.
  • Pull the Water Line – Trace the water supply line from the toilet tank to the shut-off valve until you find the nut connecting the line to the shut-off valve. Turn the nut counterclockwise to loosen it. Remove the water line from the toilet tank and put it on a large towel. Then, remove the bolts from the bottom of the toilet tank with a wrench and remove the tank. Set it aside.
  • Remove the Toilet – Loosen the nuts holding the base of the toilet to the floor with a wrench or pliers. Then, lift straight up to remove the toilet from the floor. It's probably heavy, so you may want to have someone help you with this part.
  • Install the Ring – Use a putty knife or something similar to scrape the residual wax away from the floor. Place the new wax ring in the same place the old one was and press down slightly to keep it in place. Don't squish it, though.
  • Replace the Toilet – Reverse the removal process to put the toilet back into place. Make sure you put the toilet base on by putting it straight down onto the ring so you don't crush it or shift it. Tighten the bolts securely at each step to ensure that nothing is left loose or wobbly.

With these steps, you can end the leak around your toilet base on your own. If you're not comfortable doing the work, or you don't have someone to help lift the toilet, consider calling a local plumbing service to help you out instead.