What to Do If Your Toilet is Leaking at the Base

Even if you’re a fan of horror movies, the sight of water seeping out from the toilet base in your home can give you nightmares. You don’t know what’s in the water, why it’s ending up on the floor, or how to make it stop.

As frightening as it may seem, this plumbing issue usually isn’t that big of a deal if you address it quickly. In most cases, there are two reasons why the bottom of the toilet may leak. We’ll explain both causes and what you can do to fix them.

Reason #1: Loose tee bolts

For the most part, your toilet is anchored to the floor by two bolts on either side of the base. The tee bolts are usually hidden by plastic caps. Over time, these bolts can become loose or break, which can allow the whole toilet to move around. When this happens, the seal between the base and the drain pipe can be broken, and water can start seeping out.

To figure out if you need to tighten or replace the tee bolts, follow these steps:

  1. If your toilet has shifted out of position, move the base so that it’s centered and level on the floor (if the toilet is leaning one way or is wobbly, you might need a plumber to come in and take a look).
  2. Pry off the plastic caps with a flathead screwdriver
  3. Use a wrench to tighten the bolts. Once there’s some resistance, make the bolts snug but don’t overtighten them and risk breaking the porcelain. If the bolt keeps spinning and never tighten, it’s likely broken beneath the surface and you’ll need to pull off the toilet to install a new bolt. Skip to Reason #2 for more instructions.
  4. Recheck the position and level of the toilet, then snap the plastic caps back over the tee bolts.
  5. Clean the floor around the toilet, do a test flush or two, then check to see if any more water is coming out from the base. If not, you’re all set.

Reason #2: Damaged wax ring

If tightening the tee bolts doesn’t fix your toilet leak, then you might need to replace the wax ring. The job of the wax ring is to create a watertight seal between the bottom of the toilet base and the drain pipe in the floor. The wax ring is usually pretty durable but it can become damaged if the toilet isn’t installed properly, shifts around a lot, or for other reasons. Once a wax ring is damaged or removed, it cannot be reused.

Replacing the wax ring isn’t very hard, but it can be messy. Before you get started, be sure to turn off the water supply, detach the water line, and remove all the water already in the toilet. You’ll need to completely pull off the toilet from the floor by removing the tee bolts we talked about earlier. The old wax ring will need to be scraped off and cleaned from the floor and base of the toilet.

The new ring is placed on the flange (the metal or plastic piece that sits on the floor over the drain pipe) and the toilet is placed on top. Push the toilet down with your body weight to create the new seal. Finally, reattach the water line and tighten the tee bolts to secure the toilet back in place.

Using a plumber you trust

Seeing water around the base on your toilet can be a scary sight. The good news is that the issue is usually a fairly easy fix. However, you want to make sure the job is done properly or you could have a much bigger problem on your hands.

If you want to be sure your toilet is fixed, or you don’t want the hassle of mess of replacing the wax ring, bring in the experts at Reichelt Plumbing. With flat-rate pricing and a one-year guarantee, you can be sure you’re getting the best plumbing service in South Cook County and Northwest Indiana. Call us at (219) 322-4906 to request an appointment.


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