American Discount Plumbing

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Toilet Base Leaks

Toilets are often installed in tight places.

Toilets are often installed in tight places.


When the base of a toilet begins to leak, sometimes, the homeowner may sometimes think the water came from some other source by mistake.  However, when a toilet base leak becomes severe, the homeowner may seek out the source of the leak, or simply call a plumber.

 Replacing the wax ring is something many homeowners are reluctant to do. Not only is a commode heavy and bulky, but it also has to be handled with care and set directly on the wax ring so it will seal correctly and not leak.

Other problems during removal include taking care not to break the anchor flange, a cast iron or polyvinyl plastic (in newer homes) base upon which the wax ring rests. The flange sits on the drainpipe. Thus, the order is first the commode, then the wax ring, the flange, and the drainpipe.

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Why wax?

One would think with the number of new materials which have become available, that there would be some improved material with which to create a seal. The reality is that wax is a capable agent for the seal not only because it can form the right shape to make a good seal, but also because it has a high resistance to mold and bacteria. Given the propensity for both of those organisms in the toilet area, it makes sense to stick with what works.

It’s particularly crucial for the seal to be airtight because it holds the odors at bay. One of the by-products of decomposing sewage is hydrogen sulfide gas. Not only is hydrogen sulfide poisonous and corrosive, but it’s also flammable. Because of this, the smell of rotten eggs coming from the commode may be the first and most noxious sign that the wax ring requires replacement.

Another oft-reported problem is a wobbling commode. Wobbling is usually caused by a broken flange, which necessitates the removal of the commode and wax ring. Flange repair kits for a variety of flange types and repair issues are available, depending on the type of flange and the damage.

A flange spacer is nearly always required if the floor has been replaced and the new flooring material is even slightly thicker than the old flooring.

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When it’s necessary to remove an old wax ring, there are several things which should be taken into consideration before putting the new one in place.  First, the former ring should be removed with a putty knife or similar tool and the area thoroughly cleaned to help create a space which is suitable for the new wax ring. 

  • The flange should be in good repair and proper spacers installed if needed.
  • The mounting bolts should be examined to make sure they’re not rusted or bent. 
  • The subfloor should be sturdy and mold-free.
  • The commode should be free of chips, cracks, and other damage. The homeowner also may decide to install a WaterSense toilet. 

Once these requirements are met, the new wax ring is put in place and the commode installed or reinstalled.

Since there are some things which can go wrong, and because of the presence of unsanitary and noxious substances, and due to the tight space often allotted for the commode, many people believe that hiring a plumber for this job is a good value.

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