Leaky Toilet? How to Replace the Wax Ring

It’s never a good sign if you notice water seeping out the bottom of your toilet. Often, this type of leak means you need to replace the toilet wax ring. The good news is this plumbing job is inexpensive – a new wax ring costs less than $10 at most home improvement stores – and relatively easy to do yourself. Keep reading to learn how.

Replace the Wax Ring

What does the wax ring do?

The job of the wax ring is to create a watertight seal between the bottom of the toilet and the flange on the floor so everything you flush successfully goes down the sewer pipe. Most of the time, the wax ring is a very durable part – it can last up to 30 years. However, it is possible for the wax ring to wear or dry out, which calls for a replacement. Also, the ring can’t be reinstalled, so once the seal is broken (if you do other repairs to your toilet or install a new one), you’ll need a fresh wax ring.

Materials you’ll need:

  • Replacement wax ring
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Putty knife
  • Bucket
  • Towels or paper towels
  • Wet/dry shop vacuum (not required)

Steps for replacing the wax ring:

  1. Shut off the water supply by turning the valve behind the toilet.
  2. Flush the toilet to remove most of the water left in the tank and bowl. Use your wet/dry vacuum or towels to remove the rest. This is an important step if you want to avoid a mess when you pull off the toilet later.
  3. Disconnect the water supply line from the toilet tank. It’s a good idea to put your bucket underneath to catch any water that is still in the line or tank.
  4. On the sides of the toilet base, pry off the protective caps and then remove the bolts using your wrench.
  5. At this point, the only thing holding your toilet to the floor is the old wax ring. Gently twist and rock the toilet until you feel the base loosen.
  6. To lift up the toilet, hold it near the center to evenly distribute the weight of the tank and bowl. Pull the toilet straight up and set it down on its side.
  7. Take your putty knife and remove the old wax ring. You’ll also need to scrape off the wax from the flange on the floor. Getting both areas as clean as possible will help ensure a proper seal for the new ring.
  8. Follow the instructions that come with your new wax ring. Generally, you can push the ring evenly around the discharge hole at the bottom of the toilet base.
  9. Insert new mounting bolts into the flange so they are pointing straight up.
  10. Carefully lower the toilet down so that the bolt holes line up with the bolts.
  11. Use your body weight on the toilet to compress the wax ring and complete the seal. The toilet should be even and sit directly on floor (no gap between base and floor).
  12. Tighten the bolts and replace the bolt covers. Next reconnect the water supply and turn the valve on, which should fill up the toilet.

When you’re done, do a few test flushes and look around the base of the toilet for any water leaking out. If not, the installation was a success and your new wax ring should be ready to go for years to come.

Replacing the wax ring is fairly simple, but if you have any questions or want to leave the job in the hands of professionals, call Reichelt Plumbing Inc. To schedule an appointment, call (219) 322-4906 today.


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