Yes, toilets can leak from the base and other areas as well. Toilet leaks can occur from different places.
- Around the base
- Gaskets between the tank and bowl.
- The feed line to the toilet.
- The bowl itself if there’s a crack in the bowl.
- Components in the toilet tank that were improperly placed, deteriorated or defected.
In this article, we are going to discuss toilet leaks that you are seeing from the base of the toilet.
A leak from the base of the toilet (where it connects to the floor) only occurs when the toilet is flushed. So, this generally means that the water that is leaking out is dirty water so make sure that any towels or mop that you use to clean it up is thoroughly sanitized or discarded afterwards.
The first thing to tell you is to make sure that the leak IS coming from the base. It could be that the leak is actually originating from somewhere in the tank itself and the water is then running down the back of the toilet onto the base. You can check this by simply running your hands along the toilet tank, especially the bottom, the toilet bowl and the entire base.
If you find water in any of those areas then it’s most likely that the leak is not coming from the base but instead, trickling down to the base of the toilet.
Why Is Water Leaking From The Base Of The Toilet?
The base of the toilet is normally fastened to the floor with a wax ring over a metal or plastic ring called a toilet floor flange. The wax is pressed between the toilet and the floor flange and it creates a waterproof seal. Just so you know it also prevents sewer gas odor from leaking out as well.
The lifespan of these wax seals is normally between 20 and 30 years.
The reason water would be leaking from the base of your toilet is most likely that either the wax and/or the floor flange have deteriorated if they have been there long enough. If your toilet is not that old, then either one of these products could have been defected or the installation of the toilet was not done properly.
Can You Caulk Around The Base Of The Toilet?
The answer to this question is yes, but there’s more to know. There are arguments on both sides of whether it’s a good idea or not to caulk the base of a toilet.
Actually the International Plumbing Code requires toilets to be caulked to the floor.
“Joints formed where fixtures come in contact with walls or floors shall be sealed.” – 2015 International Plumbing Code, Chapter 4 – Section 405.5
Caulking the base of the toilet with the floor does help (along with the wax ring) to keep away sewer gas odor and the caulking also helps to secure the toilet to the floor. But, a leak may go unnoticed because it’s trapped under the toilet base.
A recommendation is to caulk 80% – 90% of the base and leave the back uncaulked.
One thing that is not in contention is caulking the base of a toilet that sits on an uneven surface. The extra seal will help to reduce the risk of a leak because it improves the stability of the commode onto the floor. Of course, it’s best not to have the toilet sit on an uneven surface but if you purchased a home with this situation and the cost of leveling out the floor is just too much for the moment, caulking will be your best solution.
What Causes The Toilet Wax Ring To Leak?
As I stated earlier, a leak from the base of a toilet could be due to a defective or deteriorated wax ring which seals the connection between the toilet and the plumbing in your floor.
Although the typical life span of wax rings is 20 – 30 years, like any product they can go bad and will need replacing.
How Do You Fix A Toilet That Is Leaking At The Base?
If you’ve determined that the leak at the base of your toilet is definitely NOT coming from any other location other than the base, then the repair process is normally to replace the wax ring and/or floor flange.
This requires you to remove the toilet and replace the wax and floor flange. Here are the steps to do this…
- Turn off the cut-off valve to the toilet.
- Flush the toilet but hold the handle down until all the water in the tank is drained out.
- Remove the bolts that fasten the toilet base to the floor located on either side of the toilet base.
- Prepare an area with plastic or towels or blankets where you will be placing the toilet.
- Lift the toilet bowl (carefully) and place it on the area you created in Step 4.
- Scrape off the old wax that you see on the floor flange.
- Unscrew the flange from the floor.
- Replace it with the new floor flange and wax ring.
- Move the toilet bowl back into position. Make sure it’s secure and correctly placed.
- Screw the bolts back on.
- Turn the cut-off valve back on.
- Flush the toilet and check for any leaks.
If this job is too much for you to do, we recommend you call in a professional plumber to fix the issue. If you are not sure where the leak from your toilet is coming from then please call us at Atlantis Plumbing. We will find the problem and correct it for your quickly.
If you have any questions about leaks in your home, call Atlantis Plumbing today at 770-505-8570. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.