Maintaining Your Toilet's Seal: A Guide by Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Lancaster

white toilet

Ever suspect a leak around your toilet's wax ring? Discover the steps to restore a tight seal.

Beneath every well-maintained toilet lies a crucial component: the wax ring. Over time, even the most reliable toilet wax rings can deteriorate. When this happens, it's essential to identify and replace the wax ring. This vital component is precisely what it sounds like: a ring crafted from adhesive wax that forms a secure seal between the toilet's base and the sewer pipe. Generally, it demands little to no maintenance and can endure for 30 years or more, often surpassing the toilet's lifespan. However, on occasion, wax rings may dry out, crumble, and deteriorate prematurely, necessitating replacement.

The unmistakable sign of a wax ring's failure is water leakage from the base of the toilet. You might also observe the toilet feeling less stable when the wax ring starts to deteriorate.

Substituting Your Toilet's Wax Ring

You can easily find wax rings at most hardware stores, typically priced at $10 or less. To perform this replacement, a few common tools are required:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Putty knife
  • Bucket
  • Towels or paper towels
  • If available, a wet/dry shop vacuum can simplify the process and keep things tidy.

For a detailed walkthrough on replacing your toilet's wax ring, continue reading below!

1. Drain, Dry, and Disconnect

Begin by turning off the water supply line connected to the toilet. You should be able to close the valve by hand, but if it has remained unused for several years, it might be sticky. Flush the toilet to remove as much water as possible from the bowl and tank. If you possess a wet/dry vacuum, use it to remove any remaining water. Alternatively, you can employ a combination of plunging, manually emptying the water, or soaking it up with towels to ensure both the bowl and tank are completely dry. Subsequently, disconnect the water supply line from the bottom of the toilet tank. Expect a small amount of water in the line, so have your bucket at the ready to catch any spillage.

2. Removing the Toilet

Now, it's time to uninstall the toilet. Remove the protective caps concealing the bolts at the toilet's base, then utilize an adjustable wrench to remove the bolts and washers. At this point, gravity and the deteriorating wax ring are the only things keeping the toilet in place. Gently rock and twist the toilet to loosen it. When you're prepared to remove it, grasp it near the center to ensure an even distribution of the bowl and tank's weight. Lift using your knees, pulling directly upward, and place the toilet aside.

3. Scraping Off the Old Wax

This is where the real work begins. Use a putty knife to painstakingly eliminate as much of the old wax ring as possible from both the toilet's base and the floor's pipe fitting, commonly referred to as the toilet flange. Ensure the flange is cleaned and dried thoroughly before proceeding with the installation of the new wax ring. If the flange seems dented or damaged, it's wise to consult a plumber for an evaluation before proceeding.

4. Installing the New Wax Ring

Some wax rings are self-adhesive, and there may be slight design variations among brands, so it's advisable to refer to the instructions on the packaging. Most wax rings can be attached either to the bottom of the toilet or the top of the flange, allowing you to choose the method you find most comfortable. Position the wax ring in the center, and gently lower the toilet onto the flange, ensuring that the bolt holes on the toilet's base align with those in the flange.

5. Stabilizing the Toilet

Close the toilet lid and take a seat, using your body weight to compress the wax ring and secure the toilet in place. You may need to shift your weight several times to ensure a secure fit. Ultimately, the toilet's base should be level with the floor. With that achieved, replace the mounting bolts and bolt covers, reattach the water supply line to the tank, and reopen the supply line valve. Test flush the toilet a couple of times while keeping an eye out for any signs of leaks.

That's all there is to replacing your toilet's wax ring! However, if you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed during the process or discover damage to your flange or toilet, it's best to put down the wrench and contact your local Benjamin Franklin for expert emergency service. Reach out to us online or call us today at (717) 210-5644.