A toilet leak, while not necessarily an urgent issue, can certainly be annoying. Nobody wants to encounter wet floors in the bathroom, not to mention that leaking water can increase your water bill over time. However, don’t worry if you’re facing a leaky toilet in your home. The good news is that you can take care of the problem yourself!
Before we go into how to fix a leaky toilet, let’s start with the most common reasons why your toilets leak.
Reasons Why Your Toilet May Be Leaking at the Base
Here are the 3 most common reasons for a toilet leaking at the base:
1. Loose Tee Bolts
Did you know that your toilet is secured to the ground in your bathroom with two bolts known as tee bolts? Usually, these bolts help keep your toilet base securely sealed and attached to the floor. However, sometimes the bolts loosen over time, which causes a breach in the wax seal on your toilet base. Without a secure seal, drain water is likely to seep out whenever you flush your toilet. You can usually tell if your tee bolts are loose by gently trying to rock the toilet. With fully secure tee bolts, your toilet shouldn’t move at all when you use it or try to move it.
2. Damaged Wax Ring
In general, if your toilet is leaking from the base, chances are that the wax ring is loose and needs replacement. While loose tee bolts can cause damage to the wax ring, they can also naturally wear down over time. The wax ring keeps your toilet sealed, preventing any water from escaping, so damage to the ring allows water to leak out. If your wax ring is damaged, you’ll want to install a brand new wax ring to re-seal the toilet and prevent any further leaking.
3. Loose Water Supply Line
For the above two issues, typically water will only leak from the base after you’ve flushed your toilet. However, if you notice that water constantly leaks from your toilet base, it could be caused by a loose water supply line. To fix this issue, make sure the rubber and nut used to seal the connection for the water supply line are intact. If these parts are faulty or loose, water could leak out through the connection point of the supply line, causing the constant leak.
How to Fix a Toilet That’s Leaking From the Base
As mentioned, while nobody wants a leaking toilet, thankfully solving this issue on your own isn’t hard. Start by gathering the below tools, and then follow our easy steps to identify and resolve all of your leaky toilet problems!
1. Gather Your Tools
If you intend to fix the leakage on your own, here are some of the tools you’ll want to have on hand:
- Adjustable Wrench
- Towel/drying cloth
- Replacement wax ring (if needed)
After gathering these tools, you can start fixing your leaking toilet!
2. Look Out For Condensation
Before you embark on your toilet repair, you want to check your toilet bowl from the outside for signs of condensation. If you realize that your toilet is leaking due to condensation and not one of the issues listed above, the situation will be even easier to address.
To address the condensation, you can do some things like insulating your water tank or installing a tray to stop the leaking water from collecting at the base of your toilet. Either way, the water isn’t leaking directly from your toilet, which is good news.
In case condensation is not the issue, however, keep moving with these steps to identify what could be causing the leakage.
3. Tighten the Tee Bolts
To make sure your tee bolts aren’t the cause of the issue, you’ll want to check and tighten them. Depending on your toilet style, you may need to remove any plastic covers over the base of your toilet. Once you have access to the tee bolts, use an adjustable open-end wrench to tighten each bolt. By tightening the bolts, you’ll ensure that the wax ring sealing the toilet drain is compressed and doesn’t leak at all.
If you notice the tee bolts are already tight, however, they likely aren’t the cause of the issue. Don’t try to tighten bolts that are already tight or you may risk cracking the toilet itself. Instead, you’ll need to continue with the below steps by removing the toilet to install a new wax ring.
4. Detach the Toilet
For this step, start by turning off the water supply to the toilet. Usually, the water shut-off valve is situated on the left side of the toilet next to the water supply tube.
Next, flush the toilet to drain all the water from the bowl. After flushing, you can use a towel or cloth to soak up any residual water in the bowl. Once fully emptied, use a screwdriver to remove the nut that holds the supply tube to fill the regulator tailpiece.
At this point, you want to use your wrench to get the nuts out of the tee bolts located at your toilet’s base. Once you’ve removed the tee bolts, you can lift away the toilet. If possible, get someone to help with lifting the toilet. If you have a two-piece toilet, you’ll remove the toilet tank and toilet base separately, which will be easier to do as one person.
5. Replace the Wax Ring
Now that you’ve detached the toilet, you’ll need to scrape away any wax surrounding the drain opening. Be sure to remove any wax from the old wax ring completely. After, get your new wax ring and install it by placing it on the plastic cone that faces down toward the drain.
As you install the new wax ring, make sure the tee bolts are correctly placed in the major openings on each side of the extension.
6. Reinstall the Toilet
Now, it’s time to reinstall your toilet. Take the toilet and carefully press it down onto the wax ring while rocking gently to compress the wax, creating a secure seal. Next, tighten the tee bolts using a wrench until secure. Be careful to not overtighten the bolts so you don’t damage the toilet base.
7. Reconnect the Water Line
Your toilet is now ready for use again! You can reconnect the water supply tube and turn the water back on, allowing the tank to fill. Once reconnected, flush the toilet to check for leakage. If your new wax seal resolved the issue, you shouldn’t experience any more leaking. Congrats! As a final step, use caulk for an additional seal on the base of the toilet, and you’re good to go.
How to Avoid Toilet Leaks
You may wonder what you can do to avoid similar toilet leaks in the future. While some causes of a leaking toilet occur due to natural wear over time, there are still a few recommendations for ways to avoid a leaking toilet.
Avoid Flushing Unnecessary Objects Down the Toilet
As a rule, it’s best to avoid throwing items that don’t belong in the toilet into your toilet bowl. Including wet wipes and hair, avoid flushing any unnecessary items down your toilet. Otherwise, over time these objects will build up in your pipes instead of breaking down like natural waste or toilet paper. Ultimately, they may end up blocking your pipes which in turn may cause leakage, so it’s best to avoid flushing anything that doesn’t belong in your toilet.
Do Not Unclog Your Toilet Using Chemical Drain Cleaners
If you do encounter a clog, it can be tempting to use chemical drain cleaners to remove the block. While chemical drain cleaners do their job well, they’re also extremely harsh on your toilet and pipes. Especially if you’ve used a chemical drain cleaner more than once, the chemicals can damage plumbing fixtures and pipes, causing leakages over time.
Fix Leaks Promptly
As soon as you realize that your toilet is leaking, you want to fix the issue as soon as possible. Waiting to fix the issue can lead to additional toilet problems, and also save on your water bill. Therefore, we recommend fixing issues quickly when they do arise to prevent larger problems down the line.
As you can see, it’s not too hard to diagnose and fix a toilet leak. By following the steps outlined above, you can have your toilet functioning optimally again within a few hours. In the worst case, if the above steps don’t resolve the issue, we recommend hiring a professional plumber to help out. But for basic loose bolts or a wax ring replacement, we hope our guide helps you fix the issue quickly and easily on your own.