Toilet Leaking From Base After Replacing Wax Ring? (Fix It Now!)

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

A leaking toilet can be a real pain, causing a wet, smelly, unhealthy mess in your bathroom. Plus, once your toilet’s leaking, it’s pretty much unusable till you fix the issue. A common cause for a toilet leaking around the base is a worn-out or damaged wax ring.

If your toilet is leaking from the base after you replaced the wax ring the problem could possibly be that your wax ring might not be the right size, or that the wax ring was not compressed correctly. However, it is important to also rule out a cracked toilet bowl.

Regardless of the reason for your leaking toilet, you need to address the problem sooner rather than later. If you’ve replaced the wax ring, then your next step is to determine the real reason your toilet is leaking.

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A Quick Look at the Bottom of Your Toilet

To better understand why your toilet’s base is leaking, a little bit of info is helpful. Primarily, it’s beneficial to know a bit about how the parts around the bottom of your toilet work together.

A toilet flange connects your toilet to the drain pipe. Two closet bolts connect your toilet to the flange, and the wax seal sits between the flange and toilet.

As water goes from the toilet into the drainpipe, the wax ring prevents it from leaking. It does this by creating a seal between the toilet and the floor. Additionally, it keeps harmful sewer gasses from entering your home.

Therefore, most of the time, when a leak happens, it’s probably an issue with the wax ring. However, a problem with any of these parts could cause leaks around the toilet’s base.

How To Repair A Leaking Toilet

Reasons Your Toilet Leaks After Replacing the Wax Ring

When you notice leaking around your toilet’s base, you likely need a new wax ring. But, what if you already replaced it?

It’s always possible that the newly installed wax ring is of poor quality or someone installed it incorrectly. Therefore, before investigating other possibilities, it’s worth double-checking the wax seal. Another possibility, especially if you didn’t hire a pro, is the wax ring could be the incorrect size.

Check the Size of the Wax Ring

You have to consider two factors when determining the size of the wax ring: width and thickness.

When you’ve disconnected the toilet from the floor, carefully lay it on its side. Measure the width of the opening at the toilet’s bottom, called the “elbow neck.” This measurement will be the width of your wax ring.

It’s best to measure the elbow neck of the toilet instead of the old wax ring. After all, the old wax ring could be the wrong size.

You don’t need to measure anything to determine the necessary thickness. You just need to inspect the toilet flange that’s on top of the drain pipe. If the flange sits below the floor you should have a double-thickness wax ring. Conversely, if the flange rests level with the floor, you only need a regular-thickness wax ring. These two thicknesses are your only options.

If the wax ring is indeed the correct size and in good shape, you can move on to other possibilities.

Broken or Loose Flange Bolts or Toilet Flange

Check the bolts securing the toilet to the flange. You’ll find them toward the back of the toilet’s base, usually under a plastic cap. People refer to these bolts as closet, flange, or T-bolts.

If these bolts get loose or become damaged, it can result in a leaky toilet. If the toilet isn’t secured well to the flange, it won’t provide adequate pressure against the wax seal. Therefore, when water heads toward the drainpipe, it can escape out onto your floor through the loose wax ring.

Remove the plastic cap and test the bolts’ tightness. If the bolts are loose, use a wrench to carefully tighten them. However, ensure you don’t overtighten as this can potentially crack the porcelain.

If the bolts keep spinning freely, you’ve likely got stripped or broken bolts and need to replace them. Make sure you properly set and level the toilet, first. Finally, replace the plastic caps.

If the bolts are in good shape, the toilet flange itself could have damage. Check the flange to ensure it is free from cracks and adequately installed.

A Clogged Drain Line

If you have a clog in your drain line, then water and waste won’t have anywhere to go. Therefore, when you flush the toilet, the water builds up, putting excess pressure on the wax ring. Eventually, the wax ring won’t be able to seal against all of the water, and you’ll end up with leaks.

A good indicator of a clogged drain line is if you frequently need to plunge your toilet. If you remove the toilet, you’ll probably notice a clog right away. There could be a large object blocking the drain’s top (say your toddler flushed a sock or a toy).

However, more than likely, you’ll end up with clogs within the line and should call a plumber. A professional can ensure that the line is clear and can take care of the leaks.

A Cracked Toilet Bowl

In some cases, there could be a crack in the toilet bowl. Water can leak out of the crack and pool around the base of the toilet. It’s not typical, but it is possible. When you have a cracked toilet bowl, it doesn’t automatically mean you need to replace your toilet. If the crack is small, you might be able to repair it with a sealant.

Turn off the water supply to the toilet and completely drain the bowl. Dry the bowl thoroughly and ensure it is clean, then apply the sealant. Let the sealant cure according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Once the sealant dries, pour some water into the toilet bowl and see if it leaks. Then, turn the water supply back on and flush the toilet. If everything around the base stays dry, your sealant repair did the trick.

However, if it’s still leaking, or if the crack is too large to repair, you should consider replacing the toilet.

Weak or Damaged Flooring Under the Toilet

A wax ring only works properly if it can create a strong seal between the toilet and the floor. If your toilet is loose or wobbly, then the wax ring will likely fail. It’s typical for a toilet to sometimes loosen over time as people continually sit on it.

If you notice your toilet is rocking, it could be some of the things already mentioned. For example, there could be loose bolts or a broken flange. Alternatively, your floor beneath the toilet could be weak or rotting.

As your floor settles or weakens, this can cause looseness in the connection between the flange and the toilet. If this connection isn’t tight, the wax ring doesn’t have enough pressure to create a proper seal.

If you think your floor could be to blame, a plumber can help assess the situation. You’ll then need to go through the steps to repair your floor and reseat the toilet.

When to Call a Plumber for a Toilet Leaking at the Base

Repairing toilet leaks is not always an easy fix. Therefore, if you’re not highly confident in your plumbing skills, it’s always best to call in a professional. If you attempt certain repairs without the proper skills or knowledge, you could do more harm than good.

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Related Questions

Can you use two wax rings on a toilet?

Some people attempt to double up wax rings to create a better seal. However, this is not a good idea as it eventually leads to leaks. The wax rings can slide against each other, causing gaps and also creating a wobbly toilet. If the wax ring you have isn’t thick enough, get a double-thickness ring or a flange extension. You can find flange extenders at any home improvement store or online for about $4. You can also purchase a whole flange extender kit for about $15.

How much does it cost to replace a toilet?

On average, it costs about $200 to $350 to replace a toilet (not including the price of the toilet). Of course, the number varies depending on the plumber’s hourly rate. However, it typically takes between two and four hours to do the job.It all depends on your particular situation, such as the toilet’s location, if you need other issues addressed, etc. Plus, if you need your old toilet removed, it will usually cost an extra $30 or $50.On top of the installation costs, you’ll also have the price of a new toilet. This can be anywhere from  $100 for a basic model to over $400 for fancier types. 

How long does a wax ring last?

Usually, a wax ring should last the life of your toilet, about 20 to 30 years. However, things can always happen. If your toilet has other issues that cause it to rock or wobble, it could damage the wax ring. Plus, whenever you replace a toilet, you should replace the wax ring, don’t reuse it. If you remove the toilet for any reason, even if reinstalling the same toilet, use a new wax ring.

Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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