Have you ever had your toilet move when you sit on it? Has your toilet ever leaked down into the living room, kitchen, or garage?
All of these things have happened to me and needless to say it’s not how an ideal standard toilet should behave. The old cliché about rental homes is true-you will get phone calls about toilet leaks and it will be unpleasant. And when you’re on the receiving end of that phone call you learn how to fix this problem quickly.
You can tighten the toilet closet flange bolts, cross your fingers and call it a day.
Or, you could do the project that I did and make sure your toilet won’t slide or leak down into your living space.
Toilets are your house’s digestive system. Their health is essential for the rest of your humble abode’s well-being. And I don’t know anybody who wants mold problems in their walls, ceilings, or floors because of a leaky toilet.
After you read this post you’ll be able to adjust the height of a toilet flange, install a new wax ring, and fix or prevent a leaking toilet bowl.
Supplies for a Leaking Toilet Bowl
Here are the supplies you’ll need:
- Closet flange spacer (1/2 inch)
- Silicone caulk in white
- Caulking gun
- Wax Ring for 3 ” or 4″ waste lines (without plastic flange)
- Closet flange bolts (extra long)
- Closet flange nuts (2 pair for a total of 4)
- LiquiLock by Oatey
- Sponge & bucket or container
- Crescent wrench
- Plumber’s putty
- Paper towels
- Putty Knife
- Old bath towels or drop cloth
Dang, there are a lot of supplies!! But trust me, you’ll be glad you have them.
Remove Toilets Without Spilling Nasty Water
The last thing you want to do is spill nasty toilet water on your floor. Me too!!
To avoid this mess turn off the shutoff valve that supplies water to the toilet tank.
Flush the toilet until there is almost no water in the toilet tank. Use a large sponge to sop up the rest of the water (ring out the sponge into the toilet bowl or separate container). You’ll want the toilet tank to be dry because it will be tilted to scrape off the old wax ring.
Use a plunger to push the excess water in the toilet bowl down the sewer drain.
Here’s my Jedi trick that prevents dirty toilet water from getting on your floor.
Add Oatey LiquiLock to the toilet bowl water. This will cause the water to gel and remain in the bowl.
When water is added to the gel it will liquefy. I love science.
Lift the caps off the toilet flange nuts and bolts.
Unscrew the toilet flange nuts, remove the washers, and set them aside.
Grab a container and set it next to the toilet water supply line. Unscrew the supply line from the toilet tank. Water will trickle from the line but that’s why you have the container nearby.
Voila!! You’re toilet can be removed.
Now you can lift up the toilet and set it on top of old Budweiser beach towels or a drop cloth.
Add a Toilet Flange Spacer to Stop Toilet Leaks
The ideal standard toilet flange should rest on top of your bathroom floor or be 1/4 inch above it.
My favorite plumber here in Pittsburgh, Charlie Henderson, gave me this advice. He’s been fixing plumbing leaks for over 25 years and is A-rated on Angie’s List (which by the way is where I found him). So he’s like Yoda to me.
If your toilet flange sits below the bathroom floor the wax ring will compress over time until it no longer creates a good seal with the toilet bowl. When this seal is lost your toilet begins to leak water every time it’s flushed. Mold loves water and wood subfloors.
Before you touch the toilet flange you need to adhere two pieces of blue painter’s tape on either side of each closet bolt. Then make a mark on the tape that represents the bolt positions. This will help you reinstall the bolts exactly how they were before you removed them. The marks and bolts will serve as a guide to help you position the toilet on the wax ring.
Inspect your toilet flange for any damage and remove the wax ring from it. Make sure the plastic flange from the old wax ring is removed, too. Scrape wax residue from the toilet flange with a putty knife and use paper towels to clean up the rest.
Grab silicone caulk and squeeze out a 1/4 inch bead on the flange & waste pipe. Line up the slots on the toilet flange spacer with those on the toilet flange on the floor. Firmly press the toilet flange spacer into the caulk.
Check to see that the combined height of the spacer and flange are about 1/4 inch above the bathroom flooring. If they aren’t you can add an extra spacer to achieve this goal.
Insert the extra-long closet flange bolts down into the slots of the old flange, align them with the marks on the blue tape, and tighten them with nuts. This last step will help the toilet flange spacer stick to the caulk and old flange-think GRILLED CHEESE.
The caulk is the cheese. The flange & spacer are the bread.
Center the new wax ring on the closet flange spacer. I don’t use wax rings with plastic flanges anymore because several plumbers, including Charlie, advised against it. The plastic flange could dislodge from the wax ring and prevent solid waste (aka poop) from being flushed down the waste pipe.
Woo hoo!!! Give yourself a high five because this is a huge accomplishment and will ultimately prevent your toilet from sliding and leaking water.
Here’s a video to help you with this process. You can ask any question in the comment section below and I guarantee I’ll answer 🙂
How to Re-install a Standard Toilet (One That Won’t Leak)
Scrape off the remaining parts of the wax ring on the bottom of the toilet bowl.
Line up the holes in the toilet bowl base with the marks on the blue tape.
Slowly lower the toilet bowl so that the closet bolts come through the holes. Now the bowl should be resting on top of the wax ring. Peel the blue painter’s tap off the floor (unless you like how it looks). Grab both sides of the toilet with your hands (gross stuff) and push down with even pressure until the wax ring is compressed. The bowl should rest evenly on the floor when you’re done.
Make sure the toilet tank looks even with the back wall then put your washers and nuts on the closet flange bolts. Tighten the nuts just enough to prevent the bowl from moving. This is critical because you can easily crack the bowl by over-tightening the nuts. This would suck big time.
Since you used extra long closet flange bolts you’ll have to trim them in order for the white caps to fit. Use a hack saw or Dremel-like tool. If you choose a Dremel use a wrench to hold onto the closet nut because the vibrations of the tool will jiggle it loose.
Here’s another plumbing tip I learned from Charlie (my plumber mentor and Yoda). Add plumber’s putty to the inside of the white caps. This will hold the caps in place and prevent them from popping off when you clean the floor or toilet.
Our other tutorial has different solutions for a toilet flange repair – it could be priceless, so check it out.
If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and need help, join one of our online courses – they’ll make your bathroom renovation much easier!
Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.