How To Fix A Leaky Toilet’s Tank, Base, Waste Pipe or Bowl

If you see a little water on the floor around the bottom of your toilet bowl, it may have a damaged wax gasket seal. To replace the seal, you have to remove the toilet bowl from the floor. This is a job that requires much more work than it does money. In fact, all you’ll need to buy is a replacement wax seal and a small tub of plumbers putty.

The first step is to shut off the water. Many older toilets and most newer ones have a shutoff valve. Turn this valve clockwise. If your toilet doesn’t have a shutoff valve under the tank, you have to turn off the water at the main valve.

The second step is to flush the toilet to empty the tank and then remove as much of the water as possible. First, use a small cup and then sop up the rest with a sponge. Don’t worry. Tank water is relatively clean but you’ll want to wash your hands after you’re done.

For step three, place a pan under the shutoff valve to catch any dripping water and then use a wrench to disconnect the riser tube. This brings the freshwater to the tank. Don’t just loosen the nut. Remove the tube completely so that it doesn’t get bent or damaged.

Step four, loosen and remove the bolts in the bottom of the tank that attaches the toilet bowl to the reservoir tank.

Step five is to lift the tank off the bowl. If the tank is wall-mounted, you don’t have to take the tank off the wall. Simply remove the wide pipe leading from the tank to the bowl. On each side of the base of the toilet bowl are the nuts that are usually hidden by decorative caps that hold the bowl to the floor.

Step six is to pull the caps off and unscrew the nuts. Even with the nuts removed, the putty along the bottom of the bowl and the leaking wax ring still form a strong bond.

You may need help with step seven. Gently rock or tilt the bowl back and forth until the seals loosen enough that you can remove the bowl. Don’t hit the bowl or try to pry it off the floor with a large screwdriver, because you may chip or crack the bowl.

Step nine is to thoroughly clean off all putty and wax from the bowl, the waste pipe, and the floor. Be sure that the floor is clean and dry as well.

For step 10, insert the new wax ring over the waste pipe and apply a new one-inch-wide band of putty under the outer perimeter of the bowl rim.

Step 11, lift the bowl, position it over the opening, and gently lower it down. Apply pressure in a rocking or circular motion to push the bowl down fully. The bowl must squeeze the wax ring and putty for good adhesion. Keep pushing the bowl down until it rests firmly on the floor. Now reattach the nuts to the floor bolts and replace the decorative caps.

For step 12, reattach the reservoir tank or connection pipe, and connect the water supply line to the tank or shutoff valve.

Finally, turn on the water supply, remove any excess putty, and you’re all set to go, so to speak.

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