What to do if Your Toilet is Leaking at the Base

A toilet leak on the floor can cause mold and structural damage both to the floor under the toilet and possibly the ceiling or foundation below, so this is a toilet repair bathroom plumbing issue that needs to be acted upon right away.

Where is the leak really coming from?

Your first step is to do a leak detection investigation. The toilet leak may not be coming from the base. Some other sources of a leak that appear to be coming from the base:

· The fill valve inlet. This is where the freshwater line is attached to the tank, usually on the bottom of the tank. If this is wet, the tank seal nut may be loose and needs to be tightened.

· The water supply valve, knob or hose coming out of the wall in the back of the toilet. If tightening the knob doesn’t stop the leak, you may need to replace washers, the valve or the tubing.

· The flush valve seal area. If the tank is not securely bolted to the toilet, water can leak out around the seal and travel down the sides of the bowl to the floor, making it look like the leak is coming from the base. Simply tightening the bolts often solves this. However, if your toilet is old, you may need a new seal.

Leaks from the toilet base: loose toilet.

Once you have determined that the toilet leak is coming from the toilet base, check and see if the toilet is loose. Rock the toilet gently. Does it move? If it does, check the T bolts that attached the toilet to the floor. Are they loose? If they are, they have most likely come loose because the wax ring ( a seal) at the base of the toilet that surrounds the flange has flattened or decomposed to the degree that it cannot provide a good seal for the flushing water.

What you want is a) the toilet tightly secured to the floor and b) a tight seal between the base of the toilet and the floor. If you tighten the T bolts, you may get both results. It can happen that the bolts loosened with use and weight and rocking and tightening them will solve the problem.

However, if the leak persists, it is time to replace the toilet seal. If tightening the bolts stopped the leak, be aware that the seal may have experienced additional compression and the leak may come back sooner rather than later. These seals do not spring back. When the seal is broken between the base of the toilet and the wax ring, the ring must be replaced.

Replacing the toilet wax ring

While the actions necessary to replace a worn wax ring are straightforward, it will involve some time and require that you remove the toilet from its base and move it to the side. You may need help to move the toilet without damaging it. For most people, it is far more efficient in time and effort to call Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, your Bay Area toilet repair professionals. We’ll have what is needed on the truck and can get your bathroom back to operational fast. And just as importantly, we’ll make sure the right issue is being addressed.

· Wear gloves. You are dealing with sewage water.

· If there is water on the bathroom floor, it must be carefully mopped up and the floor disinfected. Take care to disinfect the mop afterwards as well.

· You will need to drain all the water out of the toilet. First shut off the water feed to the tank. Then flush the toilet. Most of the tank water will drain out.

· Drain the rest of the water out of the tank by loosening the large nut on the bottom of the tank (that leads back to the water supply) and letting the water drip into a bucket.

· Plunge the rest of the water in the bowl to force it down into the drainpipe.

· Remove the water supply line from the toilet tank. Inspect the nut and ensure it is not worn and needing replacement.

· Unbolt the toilet from the floor and lift the toilet away. It is a good idea to place it on cardboard to avoid marring the bathroom floor. If the toilet will not lift, the seal may be holding it down. Rock the toilet carefully from side to side to break the seal. [As a note: Benjamin Franklin plumbers come equipped with a toilet jack that safely lifts the toilet and places it on casters so it can be easily rolled away.]

· If your toilet is old, it’s a good idea to replace the tee bolts when you replace the wax ring. T bolts are often made of brass and strip easily. They are also prone to corrosion.

· Remove the old seal and dispose in a garbage bag. Treat it as you would anything toxic. Scrap off any remaining wax from the flange and the bottom of the toilet.

· Press the new wax seal around the bottom of the toilet correctly, around the opening. The alternative is to place the wax ring directly centered over the flange, but if you do this, you must make sure you lower the toilet properly over the flange.

· Before reinstalling the toilet, put the t-bolts in position in the flange.

· Reinstall the toilet, tighten the down the t bolts and cut off any excess bolt that extends above the nuts so that you can put a safety cap over the bolts.

· Reattach the water line and ensure it is tight, then turn the water back on. Allow the tank to fill.

Before you fix your toilet leak, consider this.

Toilets that leak from the base are often showing their age and wear. If you’ve had the same toilet for many years, chances are you’ve upgraded other parts of your home, maybe even parts of the bathroom. Why not use this opportunity to upgrade your toilet? A new toilet can dramatically change the aesthetics of a bathroom – even if you’ve already installed a new sink and fixtures.

The Benjamin Franklin Plumbing team are industry leaders in creating stunning new bathroom upgrades that are at the forefront of design trends. It may be time to toss that boring old porcelain and call us for a consultation. We’ll fix your immediate issue and show you a wide range of toilet possibilities that harmonize with your existing décor.