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Leaking Toilet: How to Replace Wax Seal and Bolts

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Patricia in Wisconsin needs some advice about water saving. What can we do for you?

    PATRICIA: Well, I have a toilet that is leaking water around the inside of the stool. I know it’s not coming out of the tank because I’ve put color dye in the tank and the water stays the same through …

    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK. So the bowl is leaking itself.

    PATRICIA: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: OK. So the reason that would happen is because you have a bad seal underneath it.

    PATRICIA: Oh, OK.

    TOM: And that’s called a wax seal. It kind of looks like a big, wax donut. And …

    PATRICIA: Right.

    LESLIE: And it does break down over time and get compressed and not function as well as it used to.

    TOM: So basically, what you need to do – or have a plumber do – is disconnect the water lines and unbolt the toilet from the floor and basically lift it up; clean off the old wax seal and put in a new one; and then press it back down. And the wax seal is pretty thick and as you press the toilet in place, it sort of squishes out and creates a new seal. So get the old one off and do a good job of cleaning it off. It looks pretty disgusting, I will tell you, but it’s just wax. It’s dark, black, gooey wax but it’s just wax. (Leslie chuckles) So you need to clean that off.

    And sometimes it’s a good idea also to replace the bolts that hold it down to the floor at the same time. But there’s one thing very important to remember and that is, when you do replace the toilet, don’t over-tighten the bolts because people tend to do that and toilets crack very, very easily. You only have to make it snug. Essentially, a toilet stays in place based on its own weight. It doesn’t really get bolted to the floor, so to speak; so just make them snug and then just fight the urge to make that one additional turn. Because otherwise you may crack the base.

    PATRICIA: OK, well that sounds great.

    TOM: Alright, Patricia. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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