Are you seeing a small puddle of water form around the
base of your toilet after your flush it? Or, is there a bad smell that seams
to be frequently present in your bathroom, even when no one has used the
bathroom for long periods of time? If so then chances are the toilet wax
ring has failed. What is a toilet wax ring? As the name suggests itís a
thick 1 to 2 inch ring of wax that sits underneath the toilet bowl and that
normally forms a water and air tight seal between the toilet bowl and the
toilet flange. The toilet flange is a PVC or cast iron pipe opening in the
bathroom floor where the toilet waste water goes.
When the toilet is flushed waste water from the toilet bowl
flows through the toilet flange and into the plumbing drain system.
At the base of the toilet wax ring is a funnel shaped piece of plastic. This
plastic funnel shape helps to guide the toilet wax ring onto the toilet flange.
So what causes a toilet wax ring to fail? If the bathroom floor, which upon the
toilet sits, is not completely flat the toilet will rock when people sit on it.
Overtime this rocking motion can cause the toilet wax ring to break down and
eventually fail. When it does fail, every time someone flushes the toilet a
small amount of waste water seeps through it as the toilet bowl empties into the
toilet flange and drain system. This seepage shows up around the base of the
toilet. Also, because the toilet wax ring is no longer water or air tight, sewer
gases can drift up and out around the base of the toilet. As a result, a
constant foul odor in the bathroom can be smelled.
|If the toilet wax ring is not replaced when these issues are
detected the bathroom floor could become damaged, and unsafe methane sewer
gases could build up in the home. Fortunately changing a toilet wax ring is
inexpensive and easy to do. You can buy a toilet wax ring at any home
improvement center for just a few dollars, and any homeowner with a few
simple tools can replace one. In less than an hour a homeowner can change a
toilet wax ring.
To change a toilet wax ring, start by turning off the water supply line to
the toilet. The supply line valve is typically located adjacent to the
Turn the valve to the off position and then flush the
toilet to see if water drains from the tank and bowl and that no new water
enters the tank.
Then remove any residual water from the toilet tank using a large towel and a
Once the toilet tank is empty disconnect the toilet supply line from the base of
the toilet tank using a pair of channel lock pliers.
If you can be careful, you can leave the toilet tank attached to the toilet bowl
to speed up changing the toilet wax ring. My directions below assume you will.
Lay a couple of large towels on the bathroom floor near the toilet.
Next, remove the anchor nuts that are attached to the two toilet flange
hold-down bolts that come out from the base of the toilet bowl. Use a crescent
wrench for this task.
Now this is where you need to be careful and gentle. Carefully lift the toilet
tank and bowl up as one unit and gently lay the entire unit on the towels so
that the base of the toilet bowl is observed. If you are not careful you could
crack the toilet tank or bowl where the bolts that attach the two sections
If you are nervous about lifting up the two attached units as one, or feel you
canít lift the combined weight of the toilet tank and bowl, remove the bolts
that connect the two units and lift the toilet tank off the bowl. Then lift the
toilet bowl off the toilet flange. Lay both units onto the towels with the base
of the toilet bowl exposed to see the toilet wax ring.
Using a putty knife scrape off the old toilet wax ring. Make sure you are
thorough in removing any residual wax from the old ring. Also remove any wax
ring material from the toilet flange area and the adjacent bathroom floor area.
Now, firmly push the new toilet wax ring into place around the base of the
toilet bowl opening. Youíll notice there is a lip around the toilet bowl opening
that forms a natural guide for the placement of the toilet wax ring.
With the new toilet wax ring in place carefully lift the toilet tank and bowl up
and put them back into place over the toilet flange. Make sure to line up the
toilet anchor bolts with the two openings in the base of the toilet bowl as you
place the toilet.
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After placing the toilet back onto the toilet flange, gently rock and push down
on the toilet bowl to properly seat the toilet wax ring. Even sit on the toilet
to help to firmly seat the toilet bowl.
Once youíre convinced yourself the toilet is seated properly and is flush with
the bathroom floor re-attach the nuts to the toilet anchor bolts using a
crescent wrench. Make sure not to over-tighten the nuts or else you could crack
the toilet bowl.
Now connect the toilet supply line back to the base of the toilet bowl. Use your
channel lock pliers to gently tighten the nut that holds the line in place.
Lastly, turn the toilet water supply line back on and observe that the toilet
tank fills up. When the toilet tank is full, flush the toilet and check to see
if there are no leaks around the base of the toilet bowl. Repeat this step a
couple of more times. With any luck youíll find youíve successfully changed a
toilet wax ring.
One final note, any time you need to temporarily remove a toilet, e.g.
installing a bathroom ceramic tile floor, always reinstall the toilet with a new
toilet wax ring.
For more help on changing a
toilet wax ring see the
Changing a Toilet Wax Ring EBook from
Changing a Toilet Wax Ring EBook will quickly explain to you in
detail the step-by-step process for changing the wax ring on a toilet and
includes how-to pictures for every key step in the process.
Plumbing - Toilet Repair / Toilet
Additional Home Plumbing Resources
Toilet Wax Rings and other Toilet Accessories