Repairing a Leaky Toilet: A Do-it-Yourself Project

If you have ever sat down on the toilet and it moved, it’s time for some repairs. In this article we will learn how to replace the wax seal underneath your toilet.

You’ve most likely never investigated what is under your toilet; most people haven’t. Many will just call a plumber if something goes wrong. We all know the expense here.

You Will Need:

A wrench/spanner or crescent wrench, a screwdriver and a hacksaw. A helper to move the toilet with you, a putty knife or an old bread knife. A new wax seal and new bolts with washers.

Signs Of Damage:

If your bathroom has a continual unpleasant odor, or you sit down and the toilet moves, check the bolts down on either side of the toilet for corrosion.It may also be necessary to replace these. You will probably also notice some water leakage around the bottom of the toilet on your floors.

Once the bolts are loose and the toilet moves, even just 1/8 inch, the wax seal will be damaged. It will leak water and mold will grow there. The seal is used to fuse the porcelain toilet to the flange in the floor which takes the waste away from your house. When the seal is damaged it allows air flow from the sewer pipes back up into your bathroom and through the rest of your home.

Removing The Toilet:

Step 1.

-Remove the lid of the toilet and place elsewhere so as not to damage it. If it falls and cracks it will be costly to replace.

Step 2.

-You’ll need to turn off the water supply to your toilet. Look to the pipes running to the toilet at the rear by the wall. There will be a small tap on the pipework, turn it off and flush the toilet. Hold the lever or button down until all of the water disappears from the toilet’s tank. There will still be some water in the bowl, just use a plunger for a moment to get rid of it.

Step 3.

– Remove the bolts which hold the toilet to the floor. The bolts could have small plastic covers or caps over them, just use a screwdriver to pop them off. Now use a crescent wrench/shifter to undo the bolts. If you can’t get them loose it means they are probably corroded and you will need to saw them through using a hacksaw.

Put them, and the caps in a safe place since you will need to take the bolts to the hardware store to get a new set.

Step 4.

-Disconnect the pipe which feeds the water IN to the stop tap, the one you turned off in step 2.

Step 5.

-When you lift the toilet to remove it, stand it upside down and you will see the wax ring, or what is left of it. You’re going to use an old butter knife or a putty knife and remove as much of the old wax as you possibly can. Go back to the bathroom and also remove the old was from around the flange in the floor. If you have any cleaning spray which you think might help, use it, but make sure to clean the residue from the cleaner off afterward too or the wax probably won’t adhere correctly. Some new wax seals now have a plastic collar-like inner piece. This just helps the water to be directed further into the flange rather than out around it. The whole kit will only cost about $3.

Step 6.

-Push the wax seal down onto the flange itself, making sure it is sticking.

Step 7.

– You may or may not have needed to replace the bolts which hold the toilet down. If you need to run to the store and get new bolts, make sure they have a small washer or plastic ring with them to make them stand up. If they don’t come with these washers, tell the salesman why you need them – when you’re putting the toilet back on they need to be standing up so you can line up the holes with the bolts. Toilets are heavy, so the quicker you put it back in place the better.(and for various other reasons).

Make sure the toilet is sitting flat on the floor.

Step 8.

-Once the toilet is back in place, take a seat and wiggle from side to side very gently for 30 seconds. This just helps the wax on the flange to squeeze onto the bottom of the toilet a little better.

Step 9.

Be very careful to tighten the bolts a little at a time. One side, then the other. They can tighten unevenly and cause your toilet base to crack. You really want the expense of a whole new toilet. If you had to get new bolts, they will be extra long so trim off the excess with your hacksaw.

Step 10.

-Reconnect your water line to the stop tap at the rear of the toilet turn the water on, replace the lid.

Conserve Water:


If you own a full flush toilet, very gently place one house brick, or a half gallon plastic milk bottle full of sand(with the lid tightly screwed on) into the water tank at the rear of your toilet. It will displace the water, and each time you flush less water is needed to flush and refill the tank.

Job well done!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

− seven = 2