Why Is My Toilet Leaking at the Base?

Do you spy water puddled near the toilet? Don’t delay. Left unaddressed, your toilet will continue leaking a little bit with each flush, allowing dirty water to pool on the bathroom floor and potentially causing expensive mold damage and rot in the subfloor. 

A toilet leaking at the base often is a sign of a damaged wax ring. This component should make a tight seal between the toilet base and the drainpipe. When it breaks, water may leak every time you flush. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to find the source of the leak and pinpoint the problem. If you decide the wax ring needs to be replaced, we suggest hiring a plumber for quality toilet repair

Test Your Leaky Toilet 

Sometimes, a nearby leak can make the toilet seem like it is leaking at the base. Follow these steps to find out specifically where the water is escaping from. 

Check for Condensation 

The “leak” around your toilet could not be a leak at all. It’s possible, water vapor could be condensing on the bowl or tank and puddling onto the floor. To check for this, soak up any standing water with a towel and flush the toilet. Look closely —if there are no new water pools around the base, condensation is the likely cause. Turning on the exhaust fan when you shower is an easy solution. 

Examine the Toilet Tank 

Feel around the outside of the tank for any dampness. To rule out condensation, wipe up any droplets with a towel. Then, look again, looking for loose bolts or cracked porcelain leaking water onto the floor. Tighten any loose bolts you find. If the tank is damaged, you’ll need to replace your toilet. 

Inspect the Water Hose 

Examine the cold-water supply line behind the toilet. A loose connection, damaged hose or faulty shut-off valve may cause a leak. If tightening the fittings doesn’t resolve the issue, you may need a plumber to replace the water supply hose. 

Tighten the Tee Bolts 

If these troubleshooting tips don’t help, your toilet is most likely leaking at the base like you suspected. Before calling a plumber, try tightening the tee bolts that hold the toilet to the floor. You may need to pry off the decorative plastic caps with a putty knife or flathead screwdriver to get to the bolt below. Be careful not to screw the bolt too tight, as this could damage the porcelain. If the bolts spin freely, you may need to replace them. 

Look for Signs of a Worn-Out Wax Ring 

If bolting the toilet tighter to the floor doesn’t fix the problem, a failing wax ring could be the cause after all. Besides water puddling around the toilet, you may detect a sewage smell, indicating a broken sewer line seal. And if the toilet rocks back and forth, this might mean it’s sitting on a broken flange, the component that connects the flush system to the plumbing line. A rocking toilet might also indicate a soft subfloor resulting from the leak, which needs immediate attention to prevent the problem from causing more problems. 

Hire a Plumber to Replace the Wax Ring 

If you determine that a failed wax ring is indeed the problem, resolving it requires removing the toilet, replacing the ring and reinstalling the toilet. While it’s possible to do the work without a plumbing license, DIY toilet removal is not recommended. Here’s why you should leave the issue to a experienced plumber: 

  • Porcelain is an unforgiving material. If you whack the toilet on the floor or hit it too hard with a plumbing tool, it could crack, forcing you to pay for a toilet replacement in addition to everything else. 
  • Lifting and lowering the heavy plumbing fixture is a two-person job. Even then, poor lifting techniques could leave you with an hurt back. 
  • Checking for water-damaged subflooring requires a trained eye. And if any damage has occurred, it should be fixed/repaired before reinstalling the toilet, something a plumber can help arrange. 
  • If you determine the entire flange at the bottom of the toilet is damaged, it will need to be replaced. This is even more difficult than swapping out the wax ring. 
  • Removing the toilet, making the required repair and reinstalling it can take a few hours, if not longer. You doubtlessly have better ways to spend your time, giving you yet another reason to leave the repair to a plumber. 

Schedule Toilet Repair with an Expert Plumber 

At Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, fixing toilet leaks is one of our fortes. Whether you complete the troubleshooting tips outlined above before calling, or you want us to handle the entire problem from start to finish, we’ve got you covered. Every job is backed by our 100% satisfaction guarantee,* so sit back, don’t worry, and let us take care of it. To schedule superior toilet repair in your community, please contact Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing today

*Not applicable to the Advantage Program. See your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is subject to certain restrictions and limitations as set forth in the applicable Terms and Conditions. 

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