The wax ring is the toilet part that forms an airtight seal that prevents water leaks at the base as well as sewer gas from escaping. When properly installed and well-taken care of, the wax ring can last for ages.
Wax rings are mostly replaced during toilet repairs or complete replacements. Once a wax seal has been used, you cannot reuse it again.
To replace the wax ring, detach the toilet, scrap off the old wax ring, check the flange for damages, install the new wax ring then finally set the toilet carefully back in place.
The following is a complete replacement procedure including the tools and supplies you need, the steps, tips to ensure it properly installed and frequently asked questions.
1. Gather the Necessary Tools & Supplies
The tools and supplies required for replacement include;
- Adjustable wrenches
- A bucket
- A sponge
- A small hacksaw
- A toilet plunger.
- Replacement toilet wax ring
- Replacement toilet mounting kit
- Replacement water supply line hose
- Waterproof floor covering
- Plumbers tape
Before you install the new toilet wax ring, it is necessary to drain and remove the toilet. Here are a few steps on how to do that:
2. Empty the Toilet
Turn the water supply off by turning the valve in a clockwise direction. Remove the toilet tank lid and flush the toilet as you hold the toilet handle down so that as much water as possible drains from the tank and bowl.
Use a sponge or a water solidifier to temporarily solidify and water remaining in the bowl. You can also use a plunger to force down the remaining water in the bowl into the drain.
3. Detach the Toilet
Detach the water supply line hose from the toilet fill valve and the 3/8 compression nut. This helps in resetting the toilet after the wax seal is replaced. Use a utility knife to score away all the caulking around your toilet base.
Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the caps that cover the bolts and the washers. Remove the nuts and washers from the bolts at the toilet base using the adjustable wrench.
4. Move the Toilet
Grab the toilet under the sides of the bowl and rock it forth and back gently to break the old wax seal. Carefully lift it and place it on blocks. If the toilet is too heavy to carry, you can remove the bolts attaching the tank to the bowl and move the two parts separately.
5. Remove the Existing Wax Ring
Using a pair of waterproof cleaning gloves, scrap the wax seal off the base of the toilet and the toilet flange with a putty knife. Scrap of the caulk too on the toilet base and flooring too.
6. Inspect the Toilet Flange
Check the flange for cracks, decays and any other damage. repair it with a flange repair kit, if necessary. If you are replacing the old toilet bolts with new ones, put them in place now.
If you are using the old bolts, make sure that they are in good condition. Make sure the bolts are centered in with the toilet flange opening and parallel with the finished wall behind the toilet tank.
If the flange is in a good condition, proceed to the installation of the ring.
7. Install the Wax Ring Seal
Place the new wax seal on top of the toilet flange and make sure it is centered.
8. Position the Toilet
Reinstall the toilet by using the bolts as a guide. Hold the toilet as level as possible when placing it on the new wax seal. Avoid rocking the toilet. Use a side-to-side twisting motion until the toilet is resting on the finished bathroom floor.
9. Bolt the Toilet to the Floor
Put back the bolts and washers in the order and location that they were removed. Tighten the bolts a little at a time until the bowl is sitting firmly on the finished floor. Do not over-tighten the bolts because they might end up getting damaged or cracking the toilet bowl.
10. Reconnect the Toilet and check the Wax Ring
Apply fresh plumbers tape to the tank inlet threads and attach the water supply line. Turn on the water and let the tank fill before flushing the toilet. Place tissues around the toilet and flush the toilet severally.
If you notice water on the tissues, the wax seal is not sealed properly. Uninstall it and follow the installation process again. To be on the safe side, keep checking for leaks after an hour and also the next day just to be sure that the wax ring is sealed properly.
Further Reading: Symptoms of a Leaky Toilet Wax Ring
11. Seal the Toilet with Caulk
If there are no leaks, you can now seal the toilet floor with caulk. Leave a small opening in the back of the bowl facing the wall. If water comes from this opening then the toilet is leaking and has to be fixed.
Proper Toilet Wax Ring Replacement Tips
- A wet/dry shop vacuum empties toilet tanks and bowls quickly. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for how to set it up for suctioning water.
- Each time you replace the wax seal, you should replace the T-bolts that attach the toilet to the toilet flange.
- When replacing the ring, ensure that it is made of wax because wax resists bacteria and mold and also retains its sealing ability for long.
- If the toilet still rocks from side to side after replacing the toilet wax ring, then you might have a broken flange and you need to repair it.
- Do not overtighten the bolts because you could damage or crack the toilet bowl.
Which is the Best Wax Ring for Replacement?
When replacing a wax ring, choose the one that will last long and one of a size that fits your toilet. Basically, wax seal can be classified into wax and wax-free.
Wax-free Toilet Seal vs Wax Ring
The main difference is that wax-free seals, as the name suggests are of flexible rubber or foam while wax rings are mainly made up of rigid wax which cannot be reused. Following is a table with more differences.
|Wax-Free Toilet Seal||Wax Ring|
|May be re-positioned. Allows user multiple installation attempts||Likely to break apart after first attempt.|
|Less messy because there is no wax||Wax may stick to objects, and create a mess.|
|Flexible and elastic; can keep its original shape||Loses shape, and deforms after pressure is applied.|
|DIY, reusable||Cannot be reused|
|Strong, flexible and resilient moves with the toilet. Greater adhesion means tighter seal ||Wax seal may harden and break with time and movement.|
|Resistance to high and low temperatures||Radiant heat can easily melt the wax ring.|
|Quick and easy to install (DIY) ||Requires precision and experience for installation.|
|Some are antimicrobial, they inhibit the growth of bacteria ||Hot and moist waxy area creates the perfect environment for bacteria.|
|Created with rubber/foam.||Mainly made from wax. Some are an attached with rubber or polyethylene boot|
|Some are acid and alkali resistant ||Cannot resist acids and alkalis|
|10+ expected lifetime ||Easily impacted by heat and environment.|
Best Wax-free Rings
A wax-free ring is made of rubber, foam or a combination of both. It compresses to form a wax ring that is watertight and airtight. A wax-free seal is durable, flexible and reusable but it is relatively expensive compared the wax rings. Following is a list of the best-selling wax-free seals.
From quite a reputable brand, this is a wax-free toilet bowl gasket that fits any drain
Wax Ring Types
The seals made of wax comes in the following variations
Standard wax ring
This wax ring is the simplest and least expensive. It is a one-size-fits-all. It is merely a ring of wax with a 3-4 diameter hole. They are either ¾ or 1 inch thick.
Wax ring with built-in flange opening
This type of wax ring is slightly expensive than the standard wax. It has an inbuilt rubber or polyethylene flange opening, called a horn/boot, which directs waste into pipes. This option is the best if your toilet flange sits neither too low below nor too high above the flow.
Extra-thick wax ring
This type of wax ring is best for a toilet flange that is recessed below the finished floor. It is better than the standard wax ring because it spans the distance and makes a seal. It has 40 percent more wax than the standard wax ring.
Two top-selling extra-thick wax rings include;
Do I put the Wax Ring on the Toilet or the Flange?
You can place it on the toilet flange, or fit it on the boot base of the toilet. It depends on the type of wax seal you have. For wax rings without rubber or polyethylene extension, the proper set up is to put the wax seal on the flange. You should not place it the toilet since this placement is susceptible to leaks.
If you have a wax ring that comes with a flange extension, simply fit it on the boot base of the toilet
How much does it Cost to Replace a Wax Ring on a Toilet?
The total cost of a toilet wax ring replacement can range from $20 to $200 or more. The cost will depend on the type of ring, and whether you’re doing it on your own or hiring a professional plumber.
Doing it on your own is cheaper since most wax seals are cheap ($2 to $10) but there are other brands that may go for up to $35. Other parts like the closest flange may also need replacing, which, of course, will increase total replacement cost.
If you are hiring a pro plumber to do the replacement, be prepared to spend more. Every plumbing company has its own price. Any additional task will also increase the price.
Toilet Wax Ring Lifespan-How long should Toilet Wax Ring Last?
Theoretically, a wax ring should last for as long as your toilet lasts or for an average of 20 to 30 years. However, it is important to remember that every time the toilet is removed for whatever reason, the wax ring has to be replaced. This means that the condition of your toilet matters.
Additionally, as mentioned earlier wax types of seals may break or spoil if exposed to heat. Faulty or compromised has to be replaced. Some signs of a faulty wax ring include wobbling toilet, odors and leaks from the toilet. Some signs of a faulty wax ring include wobbling toilet, odors and leaks from the toilet.
Will Bad Wax Ring Cause Toilet not to Flush?
Yes, a compromised wax ring can make your toilet not flush all way. If you use too much wax during the installation, the extra amount can disrupt the flow of waste resulting to a weak or no flush.
At the same time, if you do not align the wax properly during installation, a blockage is likely to occur. The block will it return result to a poor flush. However, the wax ring is not the most common cause of poor flushes; clogging is. Find more reasons your toilet will not flush in this article: Toilet Won’t Flush Well All the Way-when Clogged and when NOT Clogged
Do you have to Replace the Wax Ring when you Remove a Toilet?
Yes, whenever you remove a toilet, you have to replace the wax ring because the removal process completely breaks the seal. It is also quite obvious that wax will not reseal especially if it is old and made of wax. However, some wax-free seals can be reused.