Toilet leaks aren't anything to panic over, but no one likes walking into the bathroom with dry socks and coming out with wet socks. Toilets that leak at the base are usually an easy fix with some DIY how-to steps.
You can make the repairs you need quickly using this guide that provides you with the reasons behind your toilet leak, the tools you'll need, what to do about the leak, and tips to prevent future toilet leaks.
4 Reasons Why Toilets Leak at the Base
Here are some of the reasons why your toilet might be leaking from the base.
1. The Tee Bolts Need to Be Tightened.
The base of your toilet is held to the ground with two bolts called tee bolts. If these bolts loosen, the toilet will likely rock, causing the seal formed by the wax ring to break.
Drain water may seep out of the base each time you flush the toilet if your tee bolts are very loose.
2. The Wax Ring Needs to Be Replaced.
The wax ring usually needs to be replaced because the toilet is loose.
The other reason why a wax ring may need to be replaced is that it has been worn down over the years and is no longer pliable. This means the seal is no longer intact. Therefore, it causes water to seep through the base.
3. There's a Loose Water Supply Line.
If there's a loose water supply line, you'll notice that the water is leaking from the base of your toilet all of the time, rather than just when you flush it.
Check the connection where the supply line connects to the tank to make sure the nut and rubber seal are tight.
4. Water Is Condensing on the Toilet and Dripping Down.
Water in a toilet tank and bowl is usually fairly cold, and so is the porcelain. A humid room causes water to drip down from the porcelain on the bowl, and you'll notice water pooling at the base of your toilet.
Once you discover the source of the leak, you can gather the proper tools you need to fix the toilet.
Tools and Supplies You Need to Stop Your Toilet From Leaking
Here are some of the main supplies you'll need to fix your toilet when it leaks from the bottom.
You'll need a wrench to remove some of the nuts and bolts that keep your toilet sealed to the ground. Make sure the wrench is open-ended.
Depending on the toilet you have, you may need a set of screwdrivers so you can unscrew various toilet parts to uninstall your toilet for repair.
It's important to clean around the base of your toilet using an anti-bacterial bathroom cleaner. This ensures you properly clean the leaking toilet water.
Make sure you have multiple cleaning cloths to complete this project. Terry cloth and microfiber towels work best.
Washers, Gaskets, Toilet Bolts, Toilet Wax Ring, and Putty Knife
You'll need to purchase a toilet repair kit, which provides all the supplies you need to do the job. Or you can purchase washers, toilet bolts, and other parts separately if you prefer.
Cordless Drill or Driver
Some of the nuts and bolts may be difficult to remove manually. Make sure you have a power tool, like a cordless drill, to make tight bolts easier to remove.
Some bolts may be stripped and corroded. Having a hacksaw handy can help reduce the frustrations you'll experience when trying to remove corroded and stripped bolts.
Use the hacksaw to cut through bolts at the base of the toilet, the toilet seat's plastic bolts, or any other toilet bolts.
Fixing a toilet base leak is messy. Make sure you have gloves on to protect your hands.
Caulking is essential for resealing the edges of your toilet to the ground.
With all your tools and materials at your disposal, you're ready to start the process of stopping your toilet leak.
How to Stop Your Toilet From Leaking Around the Base
Review these steps in detail so you can repair your toilet leak by yourself.
1. Check For Condensation.
Before you dive into your toilet repair project, check the outside of your toilet bowl to make sure the problem isn't due to condensation.
If the problem is due to condensation, try the following tips to prevent water puddling at the base of your toilet:
- Install a tray.
- Insulate your water tank.
- Make sure your flapper isn't faulty.
- Take shorter, cooler showers, and turn the fan on.
If this is not the problem, continue searching for the source of the issue.
2. Tighten the Tee Bolts.
Remove the plastic covers from the base of your toilet on both sides. Use an adjustable open-end wrench to tighten the tee bolts. Tightening the toilet against the floor makes sure the wax ring that seals the toilet drain outlet will be compressed.
If the tee bolts are already tight or can't be tightened, you may need to remove and reinstall the toilet to install a new wax ring and new bolts.
3. Disconnect and Remove the Toilet.
Shut off the water to your toilet before you begin disconnecting it. The shutoff valve is usually located on the left side of the toilet near the water supply tube and the water valve tailpiece.
- Flush your toilet to drain all the water from your toilet and the tank. Use a sponge or cloth to get rid of excess water in the toilet tank and bowl.
- Next, use a screwdriver to unscrew the nut that mounts the supply tube to the fill valve tailpiece.
- Use your wrench to remove the nuts from the tee bolts at the base of the toilet. You may need to use a hacksaw to sever each bolt if the tee bolts are corroded and won't turn.
- Remove the toilet by lifting it up and away from the floor drain. It may be helpful to have someone help you move the toilet, instead of attempting to move it on your own.
- Set the toilet on its side to prevent damage.
4. Remove the Wax Ring, and Install a New One.
Scrape away the old wax from around the drain opening using a putty knife. Make sure you remove all of the old wax.
Install the new wax ring once all of the putty is scraped up. The ring will be placed with the plastic cone facing down toward the drain. Ensure that the tee bolts are positioned correctly in the key openings on each side of the flange.
5. Reinstall the Toilet.
Lift the toilet carefully, and place it back over the drain so that the tee bolts can go through the holes on the base of the toilet. Press the toilet down onto the wax ring, rocking it gently so the toilet compresses the wax to create a tight seal.
Tighten the tee bolts and nuts with a wrench, making sure they are not over-tightened, which may cause the porcelain to crack.
6. Connect the Water Line.
Reconnect the water supply tube to the fill valve, and turn the water back on. Flush the toilet after the toilet tank fills back up, then inspect for leaks.
Once you are sure there is no leaks present, seal the base of your toilet with caulk.
How to Prevent Future Toilet Leaks
Review these five ways to prevent toilet leaks so you can avoid leak damages in the future.
Fix Leaking Toilets Right Away.
Don't wait for a toilet leak to get out of hand before you fix it. Keep up with the maintenance of your toilet to prevent chronic leakage.
Fixing the toilet leak right away also saves you money on your water bill in the long run.
Don't Flush Items Other Than Human Waste and Toilet Paper.
Flushing items that don't belong in a toilet can cause major plumbing problems and clogs because they don't break down the way toilet paper does. Clogged pipes can cause more than a minor leak in the base of your toilet.
Don't Use Chemical Drain Cleaners to Unclog Your Toilet.
Chemical drain cleaners are too harsh to flush down your toilet. These cleaners may cause damage to aging pipes and plumbing fixtures.
Inspect the Components of Your Toilet Every Six Months.
Make sure your toilet components are still functioning properly about twice a year so you're not greeted by a surprise toilet leak when you least expect it.
Taking this proactive approach allows you to fix small toilet problems before they become big problems.
Hire a Plumber When You Need To.
Some toilet plumbing problems are beyond your control. Hiring a professional plumber alleviates your worries and stress when it comes to plumbing repairs.
With a professional plumber, you know your toilet leak will be fixed correctly the first time!
Dealing with common plumbing problems, like a toilet leaking at the base, now prevents larger plumbing problems in the future.
Contact Express Sewer & Drain to hire a professional plumber to handle all of your plumbing problems, small and large.