Life is too short to be having to deal with toilet drama such as a leaky base. Love your toilet. And when it’s not loving you back, the team at NIR Plumbing is trained to fix that relationship!
If your toilet is leaking at the base all the time, that could be very frustrating and concerning especially because most
of the time, you have no idea where the leak is coming from. The reality is that no one wants to deal with any kind of leak in their living space. Whether it be a sink that has an incessant drip, drip, drip, or a sprinkler that has gone amiss outdoors, the nuisance of a leak resonates with people across the world. But, let’s specifically focus on the infamous toilet leak.
The bathroom is our place of composure — or, at least it’s the place we go to get composed before stepping out into public. We go to the bathroom to get clean, relax, pamper ourselves, and more. We rely on our bathroom to get our day started, end our night, and everything in between…and in your bathroom sits a toilet.
The toilet is sometimes called the porcelain throne, the lavatory, water closet, the “John,” the “little boys’ room,” and even the oval office. But, no matter what our name preference, the toilet is no exception to our reliance. So, when there is a constant leak at the base of your toilet, that initial cleanliness, relaxation, and reliance is out the window.
What causes a leaky toilet at the base and what can you do to prevent such a leak? From shower head leaks to the common faucet drip, this topic of leaking appliances is no new territory for the NIR Plumbing team. And while we’ve written about water leaks several times before as a plumbing company, we’ll write about it again! As we consider what causes persistent toilet leaking at the base, we will also consider how you know your toilet is leaking from beneath and potential solutions to fix that leaky toilet base.
Causes (and Solutions) of a Leaky Toilet Base
There are many factors that play into the malfunctioning toilet, yet not every toilet issue is created equally — even when it comes to the leaky toilet base. While your toilet could be leaking for a variety of reasons, the main giveaway that you have a leaky toilet base is water on the floor around the base of your toilet. This article on The Spruce digs deeper by explaining that water condensing on the toilet might be dripping down and puddling around the base of the toilet. In more detail, we’re reminded that the water in the toilet tank and bowl is often quite cold, and the cool porcelain can cause humid room air to condense and drip down onto the floor.
If this is the case, you can usually see droplets of water collecting on the outside of the porcelain bowl and tank. While a no-brainer for many, it’s important to not ignore this. Len the Plumber also gives words of plumbing wisdom to not let “your bathroom to become an indoor swimming pool” if you find this to be the case.
It’s also important to know that there is a difference between a toilet leaking at the base only when you flush and a toilet leaking at the base all the time. According to Networx:
If your toilet is leaking at its base only after you flush, the water is coming from the toilet bowl itself. Besides causing potential damage to your bathroom tile and subfloor, this type of leak is unsanitary. […] Water which is pooling around the toilet base all the time — not just after flushing — is actually the sign of a leak which comes from another part of the fixture. While this is relatively clean water, it can still seriously damage your floor.
While both types of toilet leaks have the potential to cause serious damage, both do not necessarily have the same cause or solution. The only-when-flushed toilet leak could be caused by loose mounting bolts or a worn-out wax gasket while the all-the-time leak could be caused by a loose water supply line connection, a problematic water shutoff valve, or a faulty seal between the toilet tank and its base. Let’s consider the 2 primary reasons your toilet base is leaking:
- The tee bolts might be loose
- Your toilet could have a damaged wax ring
The tee bolts might be loose: Do you know those plastic caps around the base of your toilet? Those caps are covering tee bolts that help hold your toilet firmly in place. When these bolts are loose or broken, the toilet’s seal can break, causing leaks to occur. How can you resolve this issue? The tee bolts need to be tightened. Start this process by first removing the plastic covers from the tee bolts on either side of the toilet base, and use an adjustable, open-end or box-end wrench to tighten the bolts.
You might need to reposition your toilet so it is leveled and centered in order to begin tightening the bolts. If the bolts continue to spin freely or are broken, head to the store for a replacement set. By tightening the toilet down against the floor, the wax ring that seals the toilet drain outlet will be compressed, restoring the seal.
However, if you’ve assessed the condition of your tee bolts and have tried tightening them, but your toilet is still leaking at the base, the next point might be your cause.
Your toilet could have a damaged wax ring: Test the repair by flushing the toilet. If water still pools around the base, this means a failing wax ring is causing the leak. Fortunately, wax rings are inexpensive and relatively straightforward to replace, though you’ll need to remove the toilet to get the job done; if the latter is involved, this job can take a few hours to complete and may require two people.
Generic wax rings also fit most toilets with slight variations for some toilet models. If you’re unsure about which wax ring replacement will work for your toilet, describe your toilet model to clerk at the hardware store or home center and ask for help.
Reseating the toilet: If the tee bolts can’t be tightened, new wax rings may need to be installed. This involves removing and reseating the toilet then installing new tee bolts and a new wax ring. A few informative articles such as This Old House provide detailed instructions on how to safely remove and reseat your toilet.
Other Causes and Solutions
- Loose water supply line connection. The supply line might be leaking at its connection to the toilet tank or the valve. Where the supply line connects to the tank, make sure that the nut is tight and the rubber seal is sound.
- Problematic water shutoff valve. Test by placing a container underneath toilet valve. Try turning the valve to tighten it; be gentle, though. A valve coming off in your hand is seriously bad news. If tightening doesn’t solve your problem, you may need to replace the tube or the valve.
- Faulty seal between toilet tank and base. This problem applies only to 2-piece toilets, that is, toilets where the tank is separate from the base – however, they are the most commonly used type. Check the bolts which attach your toilet tank to the base. If they’re loose, tighten them. Alternatively, the rubber seal between the two segments may have worn out or cracked. In that case, you will need to replace it.
You also have the option to caulk the base of the toilet. Using caulk to surround the base of the toilet should not be considered a leak barrier, but rather a way to help secure the toilet to the floor. If you have worked to position the toilet properly and secured the tee bolts, caulking the base solidifies your work.
Follow these simple steps to caulk the base of your toilet. Doing so also prevents water from other sources entering the area below the toilet and causing complications such as mold or unpleasant smells. Nonetheless, if you are in a situation that you cannot self diagnose or resolve, turn off the water immediately and call upon a professional plumber. A reliable toilet installed with excellence and made environmentally safe is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your family.
Fix That Leaky Toilet Base…Pleeease!
We understand that sometimes there is a simple fix for things like fixing a toilet leak. Sometimes, however, fixing that leaky toilet base is more than a DIY project. Sometimes, a professional leaky-toilet fixer is needed. That’s when we come in. At NIR Plumbing, we don’t care what you call toilet…w just want to make sure that it works! Our goal is to execute a repair without taking short cuts and correct any plumbing problems in a way that saves the customer (YOU!) money.
Our team is certified to perform plumbing work in the state of California, adhering to state plumbing codes. All of our work is guaranteed and under warranty and our flexible pricing (whether flat rate or hourly) is just one of many ways we accommodate our customers’ needs. Contact us and we’ll handle all your plumbing needs…including that toilet that’s leaking at the base all the time.