How to fix a leaking toilet at the base

flood in my buildingWater that leaks from the base of the toilet is likely coming from the toilet bowl, and is often accompanied by an unfavorable odor.

If you don’t address the problem immediately, this type of leak can damage your bathroom floor and possibly the ceiling beneath if the bathroom is on an upper level.

Tighten or Replace Bolts

After you’re certain the leak is coming from the base, clean up any remaining water from the floor and flush the toilet. When the two tee bolts (located at the base of the toilet) aren’t sealed properly, water can seep out. The bolts are typically covered by caps, and the wax ring beneath each bolt should form a water tight seal. If they’re not covered and secured, the bolts can deteriorate and cause leaking.

The best case scenario is that the bolts can be tightened, stopping the leak. First pop off the caps and then tighten the bolts by hand, careful to not over-tighten as the base could crack. If the bolts seem loose or keep spinning when you attempt to tighten, replace the bolts.

Replace Toilet Wax Ring

Once you’ve tightened the bolts, test your repair by flushing the toilet. If water still leaks from the base, replace the wax rings. The good news is this is an inexpensive repair, but you will have to remove the toilet from the floor to make the fix. A professional plumber can complete the job for you, or you can take on the DIY repair with these steps:

  1. Buy a replacement wax ring at your local hardware store.
  2. Shut off the water valve and flush the toilet. Clean up any remaining water from the floor.
  3. Put down an old towel or garbage bag beside the toilet.
  4. Unscrew the tee bolts and remove the toilet. Lay the stool on the towel.
  5. Remove the old wax ring and any debris from the toilet base and install the new ring.
  6. Reposition the toilet to its original space. Tighten the tee bolts until secure.
  7. Restore the water supply and flush the toilet.

Once you’re sure the new wax rings solved the leaking issue, place caulk around the base of the toilet. The caulk will prevent water from seeping into the small space that could cause mold or mildew.

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