Most often when a toilet is leaking from its base, it’s in need of a new wax seal. Or, it could be as simple as tightening some tee bolts. Luckily, most of the repairs needed for a toilet leaking from the bottom are simple enough to handle yourself. You probably won’t even need to call a plumber.
Check Leak Source
First of all, check to see exactly where your toilet is leaking from. Below we discuss causes and solutions to a toilet leaking from bottom. Sometimes you might assume that the toilet is leaking from the base because there is water pooled on the floor by the toilet. However, that water might have leaked from higher up on the toilet and created a pool on the floor. Clean up the water and then periodically check on the toilet over the next half hour to see where the leak is coming from. Other possible leaks could come from a cracked tank, loose supply tube, or a malfunctioning shutoff valve.
Stop Using the Toilet
You’ll want to stop using the toilet right away. Usually, water leaking from the base of the toilet is dirty water that’s been in the toilet bowl. If you keep using the toilet, you’ll keep distributing this kind of water over the floor of your bathroom. You probably want to avoid that.
Tighten the Tee Bolts
Try to gently rock your toilet and see if it is a little loose. If there’s wiggle room between your toilet and the floor, the tee bolts might be the issue. The bolts are typically hidden beneath a cap. They secure the base of the toilet to the floor. If the tee bolts loosen, water could leak out. If the toilet isn’t loose, don’t tighten the bolts more. The base of the toilet could crack if you tighten them too much. If the bolts just rotate without tightening or if they won’t budge at all, you’ll need to replace them altogether.
Replace the Wax Ring
Your toilet might still leak even when the closet bolts are secure. If this is the case, you may need to replace your wax seal, also called a wax ring or gasket. This article on replacing a toilet gives an in-depth explanation about replacing the wax ring. Be prepared for a half-day project if you think your toilet needs a new wax ring. In order to replace the ring, you’ll need to remove your toilet from the floor and reinstall it. However, you don’t need to be a plumber to handle this project. Once you’ve purchased a new wax ring, follow these basic steps:
Remove Your Toilet
- Turn off the water supply to your toilet.
- Get rid of the water in the toilet’s tank and bowl.
Flushing the toilet while the water supply is off will get rid of most of the water. You can mop the rest of the water out with a rag or a sponge.
- Disconnect the tank from the bowl.
You’ll need to remove all of the bolts connecting the tank to the bowl and rock the bowl to break the seal. Then, you can pick up the tank and carry it off the bowl. You may need a second person to help carry the tank because of its weight.
- Remove the bowl from the floor.
Unscrew the tee bolts at the base. Then, lift the toilet off the ground. Again, you may want a second person to help lift the toilet.
- Remove the current wax ring.
Pull off any of the wax ring off the toilet base and the closet flange in your floor.
Install Wax Ring and Replace Toilet
- Check and fix toilet flange.
The closet flange is the installment placed in your bathroom floor. You’ll want to replace or repair it, if it’s broken, cracked, or warped.
- Place wax ring.
Run the wax ring under warm water. Then, press it onto the base of the toilet.
- Place the toilet bowl back on closet flange.
Lift the toilet on to the closet flange and press down to secure the wax ring. Secure the bowl to the floor with the tee bolts.
- Replace the tank.
Place the tank on the bowl and secure it with its bolts.
- Turn on the water supply.
- Check and fix toilet leaks.
Flush the toilet a few times and check for any leaks. If there are any leaks at the base, try applying more pressure to the toilet bowl to try and tighten the wax seal. You can also tighten the tee bolts on the base of the toilet.
To Caulk or Not To Caulk?
Caulking around the base of your toilet has the potential to prevent you from noticing a leaking toilet tank. If there was a leak and the base was caulked, you could develop water and structural damage below your toilet. However, some cities or buildings try to avoid bacteria from growing by requiring toilets to be caulked. If you aren’t required to caulk around the base of the toilet, you should leave it as it is.
By following the instructions we’ve given, hopefully you can fix your toilet that is leaking at the base. Always be sure to contact a professional if you are having difficulty. Or consider a home warranty that covers pipes and plumbing.