Video Transcript: How to Repair a Leaking Toilet | Ask This Old House

All right Richard! I got one for you it’s from Meghan in New York and she has got a leaky toilet. She is not alone and you’re ready for was expecting it.

So, we think about a leak on the toilet. We look at the obvious places first place to look is in the water supply. Sometimes a little drip from right here or from this nut right here. If it’s leak and you’d see it on the floor you tighten up the nut and you’re done. This is supplying fresh water up here to the absolutely but that’s at least.

It’s visual you know you can see it so the other place to look is right here between the tank and the bowl. This is an often a place as a gasket. Yeah sometimes it’ll leak right here and you’ll see it you tighten up these bolts but more often than not we hear the complaint is. I see a little bit on the floor but mostly I see it coming through the ceiling below meaning a lot well it’s going to be in the seal between the toilet and the flange.

Okay there’s critical connection right here which is these two bolts that hold the bowl to the flames. Let me show you so here’s how our standard closet flange is secured to the floor and it’s really important that these it’s screwed down. It has a couple of closet bolts that the toilets it on and the key to make it seal is a wax ring like this but just bring that toilet up would you okay. So here’s the cutaway the toilet coming right now you see this comes down and it makes a perfect connection you deform that wax. It makes a perfect connection between the bottom of the toilet and the flange itself. And it seals against sewer gas and water from coming out but if the floor is not level and it starts to rock over time. That wax can deform the wax loses its form. It doesn’t come back its eggs and it starts to leak.

We often see this the homeowners want to do their own tile work or and here’s the flange. And the flange is supposed to be above the finished floor. Now they come in and they bring in some tile and cement board. We’ve seen it even higher than this. So now this grade is too low. This flange should be higher than it is. That’s right now so they make all sorts of different wax seals and different heights of this. Okay all right! so this is the standard one but they get taller and taller.

This one’s reinforced so it tries to hold a little more shape to fill that gas. So when you put it on there it raises a hole as well you try to deform it down. But they also make an entire generation of alternatives to wax. Here’s a foam right here and that would have the two bolts coming in here and now. If it rocks a little back to its shape and keep that seal tight and then different variations on it right here where it goes down right here. So this is sort of bringing the ring up that’s right and that’s okay.

Well it’s not really bringing the ring up. This is making the seal be to fill the gap. What I prefer to do is to try to bring this flange up to where it should be originally. So now here’s some spaces that they make pretty cool. I can build it as high as I need it to be again. And now it’s up to that original height so that’s right where it should be it’s very key to again is to make sure we secure this really well down into some structure to hold that tight. And then this one’s really cool this allows us to push this down with a gasket make a nice tight seal. And look at that we’re at the right height again so it’s a flange right in the flame and if we do that then we can go back to the conventional wax seal that we’ve been using successfully for a hundred years. And you push it down here and you squeeze it down and make sure that it doesn’t rock the floors level. And you’ll have a seal forever all right Megan. Her leaks going to go away. Nice job! Richard thank you!

Some Frequently Asked Questions

This type of leak occurs when you flush the toilet. Tightening the toilet tee bolts and replacing the wax ring are two ways that this problem can be fixed. Before you head down this path, make sure that the leak is coming from the base. Other parts of the toilet may be leaking and creating water on the floor.
The most common cause of a leaking toilet tank is when the flapper fails to seat properly and form a tight seal against the valve seat. This lets water leak from the tank into the bowl. It may be caused by the flapper being out of position. … If the water level has fallen below your mark, the flush valve is leaking.
Some people prefer to caulk all around the toilet and leave about a one inch gap in the caulk at the back of the toilet to allow water to escape out in the event of a leak. It’s already tough enough to caulk behind a toilet, so if this is what you want to do, God bless.

Replacing a wax ring, also referred to as a wax seal, will run between $50 and $200, including labor and materials. While the ring itself is inexpensive at $2 to $10, replacing it takes time and expertise. The closest flange may also need replacing, which can increase total project price.

Between the toilet and the flange is a wax seal. The wax keeps water from leaking as it passes from the toilet to the drain pipe. It also seals against foul sewer gas odors. A wax seal will often last the life of the toilet, 20 or 30 years, without needing to be changed

Plunging always works, or Plunging can‘t harm the toilet. … When your stoppage is not in the pee trap of the toilet but in the pipe just below the toilet, you are usually damaging the wax ring when you place the plunger in the bottom of the toilet bowl and start pushing.
  1. Shut off the water supply.
  2. Flush the toilet to the empty the tank. This may take more than one flush.
  3. Soak up the remaining water. …
  4. Remove the caps from the nuts.
  5. Remove the nuts. …
  6. Disconnect the water supply line.
  7. Rock the toilet back and forth. …
  8. Remove the old seal.

The main difference between a caulk and a sealant is elasticity. Caulks are fairly rigid when dry, and are intended for use in areas with minimal expansion and contraction. Sealants are made from flexible material–most commonly silicone–making them ideal for areas prone to expansion and contraction.

Check the Flange Height

With the toilet removed, you can see the toilet flange and measure its height above the floor. Optimum flange height to aim for is 1/4 inch above the finished floor. … Most extensions come with long bolts, which may be necessary if the flange is below the floor level.

The wax keeps water from leaking as it passes from the toilet to the drain pipe. It also seals against foul sewer gas odors. A wax seal will often last the life of the toilet, 20 or 30 years, without needing to be changed. There are times, though, when the wax ring will need to be replaced.

*The information above does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified attorney.

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