The Leaking Toilet Base

Sometimes, the base of a homeowner’s toilet will start to leak. In fact, a leak can sometimes be mistaken for constant splashing from a messy roommate until the leaking becomes more severe. Sooner or later, someone realizes the base of the toilet is leaking, and the homeowner calls us. 

Wax ring replacement and flange repair are jobs we get asked to do quite often, for several reasons. First, because a toilet can be an awkward item to move around--heavy and cumbersome. The toilet, itself has to be handled carefully, too. If the toilet isn’t set directly and straight on the wax ring, the seal won’t be right, and it will continue to leak.

Removal is also a problem

The actual toilet removal also has to be done carefully to avoid causing further damage, such a breaking the flange, or cracking the toilet itself. The wax ring is the ring that sits between the toilet and the anchor flange. The anchor flange is polyvinyl plastic (or cast iron, in an older home), and it’s also the piece that sits on the drainpipe. So, the flange is the connector between the wax ring and the drainpipe.

 Why wax? 

Wax is amazing stuff.

Wax is amazing stuff.

So, why a wax ring? (Wax? Ew.)Wax resists mold and bacteria, and forms to the needed shape. Once it’s sealed, it stays sealed. It can remain there for a very long time, and since wax doesn’t lose its adhesiveness (think wax seals!), it’s a good fit.

When wax creates an airtight seal, the seal keeps in the odors and a byproduct of sewage decomposition: hydrogen sulfide gas. Hydrogen sulfide is corrosive, poisonous, and flammable.
(Flammable? Yikes!)
So, other than leaking, a horrible odor like rotten eggs is one of the ways of detecting a bad wax ring. 

What if my toilet wobbles, too?

The reason a toilet wobbles might be a broken flange. In that case, after we get the old wax ring clean out, we’ll need a flange repair kit. There are several different types of these on the market. The most appropriate choice depends on what kind of flange is already installed and its condition.

If the floor has been replaced and the new floor is even slightly thicker floor, it will need a flange spacer to make up for that extra bit of flooring.

Removing the old ring

The entire old ring and residue can be removed with a putty knife. The surface has to be clean, so the new one makes a good seal. Some of the questions that the installer should ask during  the process are as follows:

  • Is the subfloor in good shape?
  • Are the mounting bolts in good shape?
  • Is the toilet, itself in good enough shape to reuse?

Once the old wax is removed, the flange is repaired and spaced (if necessary), the new wax ring is set in place, and then the toilet is replaced. While the process itself is fairly well straightforward, there are some drawbacks. Working in the confines of a small space like a bathroom with a part as big and cumbersome as a toilet and the added challenge of dealing with toxic substances can create some interesting dilemmas when it comes to the actual installation.  We often get called for this type of plumbing service because it's much more convenient to hire an expert since a number of things can go wrong.

If you're in the Phoenix area and your toilet base is leaking or wobbling, or if you want it repaired or replaced for some other reason, and want to use a licensed, bonded, insured plumber, call Jimmy at 480-757-1273