Plumbing Cheats

OK, so most people have absolutely no urge to do any kind of plumbing on their toilet. That’s a given. That’s also why plumbers make really good money. They should make good money for what they deal with. But any individual with even an ounce of common sense can fix most plumbing issues. I’m not telling you to go out and re-plumb your home. I am simply saying that most plumbing repairs can be fixed with relatively little problems. Trust me, I’m a 35 year old woman and the first work i did on the plumbing was when I was 17. Since then, I have doen residential and commercial plumbing. I feel bad for homeowners that are lost so I decided to write this article reparing the plumbing at the base of your toilet. It’s the first in a short series. In this article, we are going to focus on leaks at the base of the toilet. Let’s get started.

So you walk in your bathroom and there is water on the floor. Of course you need to figure out where it is coming from. The first thing to do is to clean up the mess. Once everything is dried up you can start checking for the source of the leak. Given the title of this article, we know where our leak is, but let’s do a run through for those that aren’t quite sure yet. Get everything dry on the floor and the outside of the toilet. Check the bottom of the tank attached to the back of the toilet. Some tanks create condensation. This is not abnormal, nor is it a problem unless it becomes an extreme case. If there is no water at the bottom of the tank, check around the base of the toilet. Flush the toilet and see if any water comes out at the bottom of the toilet. Turn the water valve off to stop further leaks. This valve should be located behind and to the left of the toilet.Once the valve is off, flush the toilet again to clear the water from the tank.

When a toilet leaks at the base, or seemingly from under the toilet, the problem is usually the wax ring. Sometimes the flange under the toilet is broken as well. We will get to that. regardless of any other issue, you will have to change the wax ring anytime you remove the toilet. Don’t worry, it’s not hard, just kind of messy.

To remove the toilet, you are going to need to remove the bolts that secure it to the flange. Some people think the toilet is bolted to the floor. It’s not. Unscrew the bolts holding the toilet to the flange using any type of box end or crescent wrench. Before actually removing the toilet, you are going to want to place a piece of scrap carpet or cardboard in the bathtub to set the toilet on. In this way, the remaining water can drain into the tub and you don’t risk damaging the tub or toilet.

Remove the toilet and lay it down in the tub so that you have access to the bottom of the toilet. Scrape of the wax on the bottom of the toilet. Remove the wax from the flange the toilet was bolted to. Now you should be able to see if the flange is damaged. The flange looks like a flat solid ring sitting on the floor and attached to the plumbing below it. In some cases, in older house, the flange may be metal and may not even be attached to the plumbing underneath. If this flange does not make a complete ring or has cracks in it, there is the source of your leak. Don’t panic, you don’t necessarily have to replace the flange. If you do replace the flange, make sure to measure the piping attached to it so that you get the correct size flange. If your piping is metal, you will also need to purchase a rubber boot to attach the new flange to the old piping. If the piping is PVC (plastic) you will need a coupling to attach the flange to the pipe when you replace it.

For the purposes of this article, we are going to assume the flange is damaged, but you are not going to replace it. What you are going to do is measure the diameter of the flange and go to the hardware store. If the flange were not damaged, you could replace the wax ring only. The wax ring can be purchased for prices varying from $.78 to $1.98.

At the hardware store, ask for assistance finding a partial flange or a flange repair piece. They will know what you mean. It comes with everything you need to repair the flange and once you look at it in comparison to your flange, it will be quite obvious what to do. Make sure you get a new wax ring and bolts for the toilet. You may spend about $5.00 altogether.

Put the partial flange on your flange. Place the bolts in the flange, with the threads facing upwards so that you can attach the bolts. This next step is easier to do with two people so that one can guide, but it can be done with one person. Place the wax ring on the bottom of the toilet. You want the rounded part facing the floor/flange, not the toilet. To prevent getting to messy, what I usually do is hold the wax ring with the paper it is wrapped in, then place it on the bottom of the toilet and press gently to secure it to the toilet. Now place the toilet back on the flange, making sure that the wax ring is centered and each bolt is coming through the holes on either side. Gently press down on the toilet. Secure the bolts with the nuts they came with. Turn the water back on and flush!

This next step is very important. You are probably a little messy, so go wash your hands. Now, call a few plumbers and get a quote on repairing a leak at the base of your toilet. You have reached the final step. Sit back and gloat!!

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