Reasons Your Toilet is Leaking at the Base & How to Fix it
A leak anywhere in your home is not something anyone looks forward to. But with a toilet leak—automatically, the stakes feel higher. You need that toilet to be operating for your home to run smoothly. And the last thing you want is waste or the smell of waste in your home.
In this article, we’re talking about the 5 reasons toilets leak at the base, and how to fix it. Some of these things you can likely do on your own, while others you might want to call on the expertise of a plumber.
5 Reasons Why Toilets Leak at the Base
There are the five most common reasons why your toilet might be leaking at the base. We’re going to explore the top reasons here.
Condensation on the Toilet Drips and Collects on the Floor
This isn’t a common problem in Albuquerque, where Bosque Heating, Cooling & Plumbing is located, but it can happen. And because it’s less common here, it could even be more alarming since we aren’t used to it. Here’s what happens.
When the temperature and humidity get high, there is a lot of moisture in the air. And the water entering your toiler tank is relatively cold, maybe even just 60 degrees. In the right combination of events, this can cause your toilet to sweat.
Just like your glass of cold water gets condensation on a warm day, and the condensation drips down your glass, water can drip down the sides of your toilet at pool at the base.
While this isn’t a cause for alarm, you wouldn’t want to let it go unchecked because water damage on flooring, especially wood flooring and subflooring, is no joke.
Faulty Wax Seal Leaks Water
If you’ve never taken a toilet apart before, you might not know that between your toilet and the floor, there is an essential but very simple component—the wax seal. The wax ring creates an air-tight seal between the toilet, the floor, and the plumbing below.
If you have an old wax ring, it breaks the seal and can cause a leaky toilet base. One way to determine if this is the problem is to find out if the water is coming from any other part of the toilet, including condensation on the toilet bowl, the toilet tank, or the water supply line.
Eliminate those other possibilities by wiping up the water and then watching carefully to see where the water is actually coming from.
Wax rings can be replaced by homeowners or a plumber, and we will get into this more later on.
The Tee Bolts Need to Be Tightened
Sometimes, a leaky toilet base is caused by loose tee bolts that just need to be tightened. These are the bolts at the base of your toilet, underneath the plastic caps. A surefire sign that this is your problem is if the toilet wobbles or shifts around when you sit down.
The Toilet Tank is Loose
The toilet tank itself can occasionally become loose, and this can be another cause of leaking water. If you see water pooling at the bottom of the toilet, locating the source of the water is key to diagnosing your problem.
So, dry up the water and check to see if you can find the path of the water on the floor. If it seems like it’s coming from the tank, it could be that the bolts in the toilet tank just need to be tightened.
The Water Supply Line is Loose
The water supply line is the metal, bendable pipe that most often goes from the wall and connects to the toilet tank, filling it with fresh, clean water. If the nut or rubber seal on the water supply line gets loose, this can cause leaking.
Tools and Supplies You Need to Stop Your Toilet From Leaking
Some of these problems are easy fixes—things you can do by yourself with a wrench. Others fixes are not for the faint of heart and likely need the assistance of a plumber.
But we’re here to share the tools you’ll need and how to fix a leaking toilet, and then you can call us at Bosque Heating, Cooling & Plumbing if you’re not sure you want to take it on yourself.
Toilet Bolts & Washers
There are a few different places on your toilet where new bolts might be in order. If this is the case, often tank-to-toilet bolts will come in a set with washers included.
If your problem is that you’ve ended up somehow missing a washer, you can always take any remaining washers you have to the hardware store to make sure you’re getting the right one to fix your leak.
Toilet Wax Ring
If you need to replace the toilet wax ring, you’ll need to purchase a new one at the hardware store. Thankfully, they’re very inexpensive! If you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for, it re
ally is all in the name—it’s just a ring of wax that creates the seal.
Many wax ring kits also come with all the bolts and new washers you’d need.
Depending on your toilet, you might have an additional gasket, or you may use a different type of seal like a wax-free toilet bowl gasket, a foam gasket, or a sponge gasket.
There are reasons why consumers pick different gaskets or wax rings, and if you’re not sure what’s right for your toilet, it’s best to consult with a plumber.
If you’re replacing a wax seal, you’ll need a putty knife to remove the old wax ring from the base of the toilet.
Towels and/or Paper Towels
This job is bound to get a little messy, and you’ll want to keep a few towels on hand to mop up any spilled water.
How to Fix a Leaking Toilet Base in 9 Simple Steps
If you’re ready for the ultimate DIY award, you can fix your own leaking toilet on your own.
Check For Condensation/Other Quick Fixes
We mentioned a few of the other reasons why there might be water pooling on the floor at the base of your toilet.
If you’ve determined that tightening the tee bolts and tightening the bolts on the water supply tube aren’t the solution, and you know the water isn’t from condensation, it’s time to remove your toilet and get to the root of the problem.
Turn Off the Water and Drain the Toilet
Turn off the water at the toilet’s water supply. Flush the toilet to empty the tank, and use a shop vac to remove any remaining water from the base. You can also use a sponge to soak up any remaining water.
Disconnect the Water Supply Line
This should be pretty easy to do, but remember, even if you’ve turned off the water supply, there will still be water in the line, so you’ll need to catch the remaining water in a bucket and have towels ready to wipe up any extra water.
Remove the Toilet from the Floor
You’ll start by removing the plastic covers that cover the flange bolts and use a wrench to unscrew the nuts and washers. With the nuts removed, you’ll be able to wiggle the toilet free from the floor.
Remember, a toilet weighs up to 100 pounds, and the porcelain can chip or crack easily if you drop it. Make sure you have someone available to help you or call a plumber if you aren’t sure you want to do this part on your own.
Inspect the Flange and Replace Flange Bolts
You’ll notice the flange, typically a metal plate with a large hole in it bolted to the floor. Remove the flange bolts and replace them with the new bolts from your kit.
Set the New Wax Ring
Scrape off the existing wax ring with a putty knife, and then set the new wax ring. You can place it on top of the flange or at the bottom of the toilet. Check the directions on the wax ring for more information.
Put the Toilet Back On
Carefully put the toilet back in place, making sure to get the bolts through the base holes. Take a seat on the toilet and ensure it’s not wobbling. You want to know that the flange and the new ring are level with the ground.
Tighten Floor Bolt Nuts
If all is well, use your new plastic disc, metal washer, and nuts back on the flange bolts and secure them tightly. You may need to trim the bolt so you can place the plastic caps back on.
Reconnect the Water Supply Tube and Turn the Water Back On
Reconnect that water supply tube, tighten the bolt as needed, and turn the main water back on. You’ll hear water running as it refills the tank. Once the tank is full, flush the toilet a few times to ensure there isn’t leaking at the base.
Don’t Want to Fix a Leaking Toilet Yourself?
If all of this sounds a bit daunting to you, or you started and got stuck, never fear. At Bosque Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we can often send a plumber out same-day to help you fix a leaking toilet. Give us a call at (505)444-7200 to get on our schedule!