Have you ever noticed your toilet leaking from the base? Have you ever wondered what’s causing it? The most likely reason is that your toilet’s wax ring is leaking and needs to be replaced.
No one wants a leaking toilet to deal with, but don’t worry! In this article, we’ll be going over everything you need to know about toilet wax rings and how to replace them yourself as quickly as possible!
Table of Contents
What Is A Toilet Wax Ring?
So let’s start with the basics before we show you how you can fix it.
A toilet wax ring is a rounded seal made from molded wax, found between the top of the toilet flange and the bottom of the toilet. It prevents water from leaking from the bottom of the toilet when it is being flushed.
The most common cause of the wax ring’s failure is actually a wobbly toilet. Toilets usually get wobbly because of uneven floors, soft or weak flooring, loose mounting bolts, or a broken closet flange.
How Hard Is It To Replace A Toilet Wax Ring?
It’s actually quite easy to replace a toilet wax ring yourself and doesn’t really take longer than an hour to sort out.
The main thing you need to keep in mind is that you may need an extra pair of hands to help you as you will need to lift the toilet when replacing the wax ring.
Other than needing an extra pair of hands, you can do the vast majority of this task yourself. It’s a lot easier than it may seem!
How Do I Replace A Toilet Wax Ring? (Short Guide)
To replace a wax ring, you need to turn off the water that’s connected to the toilet and then drain both the tank and the bowl.
Next, you need to remove the toilet and scrape off the old wax from the top of the closet flange and the bottom of the toilet.
Then, you need to put the new wax ring onto the flange and reinstall the toilet.
To make sure the wax ring has been installed properly, you test it by flushing the toilet and confirming that no water is leaking out of the bottom of the toilet.
If there are still leaks, you need to go back and remove the toilet again to double-check for any issues.
If it does leak the first time you try it, don’t be discouraged! If you’ve never fixed a toilet before, you’re bound to run into some problems. Just take a moment and try again!
If you’re still a bit confused about how to replace the wax ring, don’t worry, we’ll be giving you a more in-depth explanation and step-by-step guide later on in this article.
When Do I Need To Replace The Toilet Wax Ring?
Toilet wax rings can last decades at a time, so there’s no official guide on how often you need to replace them. You should only replace them when they stop sealing. For the most part, you can just leave it alone.
You’ll know if it needs replacing because the toilet will start leaking, or you’ll be able to smell urine or sewage in the bathroom.
If you notice any leaking or any sewage smells coming from your toilet or bathroom, it’s in your best interest to start the process of replacing the wax ring.
Alternatives To A Toilet Wax Ring
If for whatever reason you want to use something else instead of a toilet wax ring, there are alternatives. The most popular and best option is the rubber gasket seal.
A rubber gasket seal works pretty much exactly how the wax ring does, but it’s less sticky on your hands and surfaces. It also doesn’t deform, which is a main drawback of the wax ring.
How To Replace A Toilet Wax Ring (In Depth Guide)
Replacing a toilet wax ring is easier than you might think, but it does require patience, an extra pair of hands, and following the instructions as accurately as possible.
Here is a more in-depth guide on how to replace your toilet wax ring.
In order for this task to be successful and easy, you will need the following tools:
- Old rag/towel
- Empty Bucket
- Flathead screwdriver
- Adjustable wrench
- A new wax ring (or a seal gasket if you’ve chosen this option)
- Putty knife
- rubber gloves
As optional tools, you can also use toilet bolts and washers and a mini hacksaw, but you can get this job done without these two things.
Once you’ve gathered the right tools, simply follow these steps. By the time you’re done, you will have a working toilet again:
Step 1: Turn Off the Water Supply
First, locate the toilet shut-off valve, which will be on the wall behind the toilet, and turn the valve clockwise. This will turn the water off.
Your shut-off valve might be a push/pull type instead. If this is the case, you need to pull the valve outwards. This will stop the water from flowing into the toilet tank.
Step 2: Drain the Toilet Tank and Bowl
For this step, you need to start by flushing the toilet and holding the flush trip down. By holding the flush trip down, you will ensure that all the water has been flushed.
Next, remove the toilet lid and put it somewhere safe. Most toilet lids are made of ceramics and can break easily, so keep this in mind when working out where to store it.
As long as it’s out of reach of children and pets or anything else that could cause it to break, it should be fine.
You want to check the bottom of the tank now, as there will be some water left there.
Use your rubber gloves and get it out with a sponge. Squeeze the water into an empty bucket. This step will also apply to any water you find in the bottom of the toilet bowl.
Finally, for this step, disconnect the water supply line from the toilet tank.
You want to attempt to disconnect the supply lines with your hands before you attempt to do it with a wrench. Also, keep a bucket ready in case you need to drain any water.
Step 3: Removing the Toilet
Not all toilets are the same, so you need to work out which type of toilet you have. Luckily though, most toilets are one of the following:
- One-piece toilets
- Two-piece toilets
- Skirted toilets
One-piece toilets have the toilet bowl and the tank fused together. Two-piece toilets have their toilet bowl and tanks as separate parts that are joined together during installation.
Skirted toilets are a bit harder to remove and they have a concealed trapway.
One-piece toilets are more compact than two-piece and skirted toilets because the toilet bowl and the tank is fused together. The one-piece toilet is usually removed all in one go.
It is important to remember that one-piece toilets can weigh a lot and if you don’t have a very strong back, you may want to get an extra pair of hands involved.
When it comes to removing a two-piece toilet, you can remove the tank followed by the bowl, or you can remove the whole toilet in one go.
It is heavily advised to go for the first option rather than the second because the second option can cause the toilet tank to crack.
When you are ready to remove the toilet, you want to follow this next set of instructions:
There are two bolt nuts that are used to anchor the toilet flange which can be found at the base of the toilet. Use your wrench to loosen these bolts.
On occasion, these bolts can be covered with plastic caps. Using a screwdriver, take these plastic caps off if they are there.
You may need to use a hacksaw for this part, especially if the nuts and bolts have corroded at all.
If that is the case, use the hacksaw to cut them off. Be mindful when doing this though, because you don’t want to cut the body of the toilet bowl.
With the nuts removed, the toilet is now ready to be removed. With both hands, rock it back a little bit to break the wax ring seal. After you’ve done this, you can lift it off.
Step 4: Removing the Old Wax Ring
With the toilet removed, lay it on some newspapers on its side so it’s out of the way.
Using a towel or a rag, you want to plug off the drainpipe. Doing this prevents any sewage gasses from getting into the bathroom and the rest of the house.
When it comes to removing the old wax ring, remember that it can get a bit messy. With that in mind, slide it out of the toilet outlet.
Now, scrape off any remaining wax from the closet flange and toilet outlet with a putty knife.
You will want to check to make sure the toilet flange isn’t damaged before going any further. If it is damaged, it is quite easy to replace. If it isn’t damaged, proceed to the next step.
Step: Replacing the Toilet Wax Ring
If the toilet flange is damaged or broken, replace or fix it before you proceed with the rest of this step.
You want to push the replacement wax ring onto the toilet outlet. You have to be very careful with this part because you don’t want to deform the ring.
A helpful plumbers tip is to leave the wax ring out in the sun or in some warm water as it makes it easier to slide onto the toilet, with less risk of the ring deforming.
You can also set the toilet wax ring onto the flange first. The issue with this method is that it can shift whilst you’re reinstalling the toilet, so you can’t be sure if the wax ring will set properly.
If you’ve opted for the rubber gasket instead of the wax ring, you need to put it on top of the flange and then reinstall the toilet on top of it.
Step 6: Reinstall the Toilet
Now that the rubber gasket or the wax ring has been placed, you can go about reinstalling the toilet.
Remove the rag or towel from the drain pipe first. Then, lift the toilet and lower it slowly back onto the wax ring.
This part can be a bit tricky. The toilet is going to be heavy, so if you need an extra pair of hands, now is a good time to get them.
When the toilet is back on the ground, put a nut on each bolt and proceed to hand-tighten them.
After you’ve hand-tightened the nuts, use a wrench to make sure they are secure. It is advised to alternate in tightening them so the toilet isn’t reinstalled at a slant.
If the bolts are sticking out too far, you do have the option to use a hacksaw to cut off the bolts.
Step 7: Test the New Wax Ring
Now that everything has been reinstalled, you can connect the supply line back to the tank.
Open the shut-off valve again and let the water fill back up in the toilet tank.
Now you want to flush the toilet and keep an eye out for any leaks at the base of the toilet. Flush it again a few more times after the first to double and triple-check there are no leaks.
If there definitely aren’t any leaks, get the toilet lid from the safe place you put it in and put it back on the toilet.
Now that all of that is done, congratulations! You have successfully replaced the toilet wax seal!
Replacing a Two-piece Toilet Wax Ring
If you have a two-piece toilet, follow steps one and two, and then proceed to follow these instructions.
There are usually 2 to 3 bolts in these toilet bowls. Using a wrench, loosen them. If they pivot instead of loosening, you’ll need to use a second tool.
Look inside the toilet tank for the two bolt heads and run your hand underneath the toilet bowl to find the two bolt nuts that tighten the tank on the bowl.
Using a long screwdriver, unscrew the bolts as you back off the nuts from inside the bowl.
With the bolts out, you can now lift off the tank. Remember to put the tank in a safe place where it cant fall or crack.
When the toilet tank is out, you can then remove the bowl and continue following the rest of the initial steps.
Replacing a Toilet Wax Ring from a Skirted Toilet
Replacing a toilet wax ring from a skirted toilet is a bit more tricky because the toilet bolts are inside the skirt.
To access the bolts or screws, you need to look on each side of the skirted toilet for a small hold hole that is covered in a color-matched cap.
When the cap is removed, you can now access the toilet bolts, and removing them should be easy. You then follow the same steps as above.
When it comes to replacing or fixing anything to do with the toilet, it can always seem really daunting, especially if you know absolutely nothing about plumbing, to begin with.
Replacing a toilet wax ring is no exception! But with this easy guide and a great deal of patience, you can sort out this issue without the need of getting a plumber involved.
If you can sort out the toilet wax ring yourself, you also save a lot of money and you can feel more confident in your own abilities.
And if this ever happens again, you can rest easy because by that point, you would have done it before!