Weary of Water?
Finding water pooling on the bathroom floor is never a good thing, but a leak from your toilet isn’t always as serious or complicated to solve as you think. Here’s what to look for — and what to do first — when you spot a leak.
Why Your Toilet Might Be Leaking At The Base
Your first step is to clean up the leak to prevent further damage to the area around the toilet. Don’t flush the toilet — that will likely continue to push water out. Next, consider if any of these common part problems might be to blame for your leak.
Your Flange Bolts Are Too Loose
Why is my toilet leaking only when I flush? The answer to that can often be traced to the two bolts at the base of your toilet. Flange Bolts are responsible for keeping your toilet sealed and firmly attached to the ground, so if these bolts aren’t tight enough, the toilet can shift and break the wax seal. The next time you flush, you may see water leak onto the floor. Check for loose bolts before moving on to other parts or areas of the toilet.
You may be able to tighten a loose flange, and that’s something you can do on your own. Remember to tighten the bolts slowly — one or two turns should do the trick. If you over-tighten the bolts, you can accidentally crack the porcelain toilet. Are the bolts spinning in place or not tightening? This could be a sign of a broken or loose toilet flange. Stop tightening the bolts to prevent further damage to the flange. Next up: remove the toilet to inspect the flange.
Your Wax Ring Is Broken
If your bolts are tight and your toilet is still leaking when you flush, your wax ring may be broken. You’ll find the wax ring under the base of your toilet: it works as a water-tight seal to prevent water and sewage from the waste line from seeping out. If your wax ring is broken, you’ll start noticing water leaking around the base when you flush, even after your bolts have been tightened.
Fortunately, a new wax ring is inexpensive, but replacing the part can be time-consuming — it may take a few hours. The process requires you to remove the toilet, dispose of the old wax ring, install the new ring, then put your toilet back in place. If you’re not up for an afternoon of fixing your plumbing, you might want to call a plumber in to help you get the job done.
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