Plumbing is essential in almost every room in your home, from the bathrooms to the kitchen to the laundry room. When your toilet leaks, you need to get it fixed before it causes damage to your floor and sub-floor. Toilet repair costs are fairly low (around $200, typically). But if you let toilet leaks linger without putting a stop to them, the costs climb. Water damage is expensive to repair, and it’s rarely covered by your home insurance. Avoid big bills by fixing toilet leaks right away, before it gets out of hand. This DIY guide to repairing the most common kinds of toilet leaks will help you evaluate the situation before you call a plumber.
Toilet Tank Leaks
If you notice water near the base of the toilet, investigate further. Hopefully, it’s just water from the tank. Water can leak past the bolts if your tank is bumped. Check for this by reaching under the tank. Are the bolts wet? Dry them off and wait an hour before checking again. If they’re wet again after an hour, you probably have a leaky tank. Tighten the nuts to stop it. If the leaking continues, remove the bolts and install new washers. Here’s how:
- Turn off the water.
- Flush the toilet.
- Sponge any remaining water from the tank.
- Remove the tank bolts and replace the washers.
- Coat the washers and bolts with pipe joint compound.
- Reinstall the bolts.
Toilet Base Leaks
If the tank bolts are dry but you still see water near the base of the toilet, there is probably an issue with the bowl gasket on the toilet flange. Sound complicated? It is. The flange is the ring that connects the toilet to the drain pipe. The flange sits on top of the floor and is attached to a collar. The toilet is bolted into it. The gasket seals the gap between the drain pipe and the flange.
Wax gaskets are durable and inexpensive, so they are most common. If you live in an older house (at least fifty years old), you might have a gasket made of plumber’s putty. Back then, toilets had four bolts rather than two, so putty was sufficient. Modern toilets have just two bolts, so if you have a putty gasket, replace it with one made of wax or rubber.
Foam rubber gaskets have better leak protection. They reseal themselves for leak prevention, but you need to size them properly or you’ll end up with a wobbly toilet. Hybrid gaskets are becoming more popular. These neoprene gaskets are surrounded by a wax coating. They offer the forgiveness of wax with the leak-resistance of rubber.
If you’ve just installed a toilet, try tightening the bolts on the toilet base. Newly installed gaskets compress a bit after installation. This loosens the bolts, leading to a leak. To fix it, take the caps off of the bolts at the toilet base. Test how tight the nuts are with a wrench. Tighten them gently so that they feel snug, and keep an eye on your toilet to see if you’ve fixed the problem.
When to Call a Plumber
If the bolts were already tight or water continues to leak, you may want to call in a plumber. He or she will remove the toilet so the gasket can be replaced. Few home DIYers are up to the task of removing and resetting a toilet. Newcomb and Company can help. If you see water at the base of your toilet, don’t delay. Continued leakage can ruin floors and walls, and even lead to mold growth. We’ll fix your problem as soon as possible.