Tips on How to Replace the Wax Ring on a Toilet
Have you ever wondered what keeps your toilet from leaking?
Beneath every toilet is a sticky wax ring that forms a watertight seal between the toilet and the sewer pipe. This hidden ring silently keeps your floors dry and can last for years without ever needing maintenance.
Why wax? The wax is formed in a loop around a plastic tube. It shapes itself to fit almost any toilet and floor drain, making installation pretty much foolproof. The wax is mold and bacteria resistant and can retain its seal for many years.
When should you consider replacing your wax ring?
Here are a few times when replacement may be necessary:
- If you have to remove your toilet for any reason, you should plan to replace your wax ring. Lifting the toilet will break the seal and if the wax is old, it may not reseal.
- Does your toilet wobble? If you notice that your throne has developed a side-to-side rocking motion (even a little), it could mean the anchor flange is broken. This will have to be replaced along with the wax seal.
- Do you notice dampness collecting around the base of your toilet? If it looks like your toilet is leaking, it may indicate that the wax ring has failed.
- If you are replacing your flooring, you may need to remove your toilet and replace the wax ring to ensure a proper, tight seal.
- If your toilet is on an upper floor, you may notice water damage on the ceiling of the room below. This is a sure sign that something’s not right, and the first thing to check is the wax seal. Sagging or soft spots on the bathroom floor near your toilet could also point to water damage.
Replacing Your Wax Ring
Wax rings are inexpensive and can be found at most hardware stores. Make sure you have a few essential tools on hand before you start the replacement: an adjustable wrench, a putty knife, a bucket, disposable gloves, and a towel or paper towels. A wet/dry shop vac will help make the job easier if you have access to one.
Step 1 – Turn off the water supply line that connects the toilet and the wall.
Step 2 – Drain the toilet by flushing, removing as much water as possible. If you have a shop vac, use it to suck up any remaining water. Don’t have access to a wet/dry vacuum? Use a plunger to help force as much additional water out as possible, then have your towels ready to sop up anything that leaks out.
Step 3 – Disconnect the water supply line from the bottom of the toilet tank. A little water will be left in the line, so be prepared to catch it with a bucket.
Step 4 – Remove the decorative caps that cover the bolts at the base of the toilet, then use your adjustable wrench to remove the bolts and washers.
Step 5 – Gently rock and twist the toilet to break what remains of the old wax seal. When you’re ready, make sure to grasp the toilet near the center so that the weight of the bowl and the tank are distributed evenly. If it’s too heavy, you can remove the tank portion and move them separately.
Step 6 – Put on your disposable gloves for this part. The wax is very sticky and, well, it’s been chilling under your toilet for a long time. Use a putty knife to remove as much of the old wax as possible from both the floor and the bottom of the toilet. Check to make sure the flange (the top of the sewer pipe) isn’t cracked or damaged in any way, then stuff a towel into the top of the pipe to prevent any noxious gases from escaping until you’re ready to replace the toilet.
Step 7 – Most wax rings can be affixed either to the bottom of the toilet first or the top of the flange – whichever you’re most comfortable with will work. Double check the instructions that come with your new ring to ensure that you’re installing it properly, but this part should be easy. Once the ring is centered in place, carefully lower the toilet onto the flange, using the bolt holes on the toilet base and the flange to line everything up properly.
Step 8 – Close the toilet lid and sit down. Use your body weight to compress the wax seal and settle the toilet into place. Once it feels solid, check to be sure the base of the toilet is completely flush with the floor all the way around.
Step 9 – Replace the mounting bolts and decorative covers, then reattach the water supply line and make sure the supply valves are open. Give the toilet a few test flushes and check all around the base for any sign of leaks.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully replaced your wax seal.
As always, if at any point you’re feeling overwhelmed with the process or encounter something you’re not sure how to fix, give Home Angels a call! Our professional plumbers are ready to provide advice or come to your home for an assessment or repair.