Water coming from under the toilet is an easy problem to fix. However, if the problem is ignored it can cause serious water damage. Avoid a leaky toilet disaster with the following instructions.
Diagnosing the problem
Usually, a failed wax seal causes water to pool around the toilet, but in some cases, the problem lies elsewhere. To find the source of the problem, soak up the water from the floor with a sponge and dry off the toilet. Wait until a new puddle appears on the floor. Then check to make sure the water is seeping out from under the toilet and not coming from a loose supply tube, faulty shutoff valve, or cracked tank.
If the water is in fact leaking from under the toilet, you might be able to stop it by tightening the closet bolts that secure the toilet to the floor. Use a slotted screwdriver or putty knife to pry off the caps that cover the bolts. Then, use a wrench to alternately tighten each bolt, a little at a time. Be careful not to apply too much pressure because this can crack the toilet’s base. Hopefully, tightening the bolts will stop the leak. If not, you will have to remove the toilet and replace the wax gasket.
Removing the toilet
First, turn off the water at the shutoff valve. This is usually located behind the toilet, or in the basement or crawl space directly below it. Turn the handle all the way in a clockwise direction to turn off the water.
Remove the tank lid, flush the toilet and hold down the handle to drain as much water as possible from the tank. Wipe up the remaining tank water with a sponge. A small paper cup will help you remove any water left in the bowl.
Disconnect the water-supply tube by loosening the compression nut on the shutoff valve. Pry the caps from the closet bolts, and then use a wrench to remove the nuts. Grab the rim of the bowl directly below the seat hinges, and gently move the toilet back and forth to break the wax seal. Lift the toilet off the floor and lay it on a blanket or piece of cardboard. Use a narrow putty knife to scrape off the old wax gasket from the bottom of the toilet and from the closet flange in the floor.
Check the flange to make sure it is not cracked or bent. If you discover that a large piece of the flange is broken off, you will have to replace the entire flange, install a full replacement flange, or fill in the missing piece with a repair strap. Using a repair strap is the easiest and least expensive option.
To install the curved metal strap, first loosen the two screws that secure the flange to the floor. Insert a new closet bolt into the slot in the strap before sliding the strap under the flange. Tighten the flange screws to lock the to lock the strap into place. Then install the remaining closet bolt in the flange. If the bolts won’t stand upright, pack a little wax from the old gasket around the base of each one. Take a new wax gasket and set it down on the closet flange, making sure it’s perfectly centered. Make sure the new gasket is secured to create a tight seal.
Once you’re ready to replace the toilet, you might want to consider hiring a plumber to help you replace it correctly. Use TalkLocal to connect you to a highly rated plumber in your area within minutes.