The wax ring has been the default seal ring for toilets for a long while now. It’s proven to be reliable, easy to use and needs little maintenance if properly installed. However, all is not rosy with the wax rings given that installing them is messy, they don’t fit all toilets, cannot withstand heat and they cannot be reused or stacked.
Wax-free toilet seals are the best alternatives to regular wax rings. These are easy to use, mess-free, stackable, universal, and are made of durable materials (rubber or foam) that can withstand heat and other damages.
More other options for regular wax seals include all-in-one seals that are with rubber and wax. These options aren’t entirely free of wax but are much better than standard old-fashioned plain wax rings. Read on for details.
Wax-free Toilet Seal-Rubber Rings
This is a reusable type toilet bowl of gasket made of rubber instead of messy wax.
They come with a rubber seal that fits onto the bottom of the toilet and a deep seal flange that goes into the drainpipe. An additional leak-proof o-ring provides an airtight and watertight seal that prevents sewer smells, splash up and the rotting of the floor flange.
The o-ring not only prevents water from coming back but also sewer gas smells from coming back up into the bathroom.
The best bits about this type of seal is that it can be reused or reset each time you adjust the toilet or carry out some other job that requires accessing the drain pipe. It’s also a long type of seal which can be used with 3 to 4-inch drains. Based on reviews, some of the best rubber toilet seals include;
Fluidmaster Better than Wax Rubber Toilet Seal
This is the most popular waxless seal. It fits any toilet any drain. Seals on uneven floors or over tile floors with recessed flanges. It requires no minimum temperature for installation and can be repositioned without damaging seal.
- Stackable seal and slide-on spacer that fits any 3-inch or 4-inch drain lines
- No-rust brass bolts & hardware
- Bolt holes for easy guide installation
Korky Wax-free Toilet Seal
Another quite common mess-free seal made of rubber/foam is the korky waxless seal. It has a two-piece foam interior that adapts to fit flanges that are above, even with and below finished floors
Foam Toilet Rings
This is yet another type of wax-free bowl-to-flange sealing is reusable and mess-free. It is made up of durable foam/sponge and other materials.
The materials from which this seal is made maintain their shape allowing movement in the toilet yet preventing leaks. At the same time, this type ring gives the installer multiple attempts at setting the toilet without risk of ruining the seal.
One special advantage of the wax-free foam gaskets is that they will still provide a reliable seal even when the toilet is wobbly.
Foam seals can be used to seal toilets with flange heights up to 3/8 of an inch above or below the floor level. This comes in handy when installing toilets for story buildings and other types of floors besides concrete ones.
San Seal Toilet Gasket
The Sani Seal toilet gasket is one of the most reviewed waxless seal. It is made of PVC, ABS, sponge rubber O-rings, and Cryanacrylate.
The unique design holds the bolts upright and the gasket in place, providing trouble-free installation. Fits all flanges and standard toilets.
It works great on radiant heated floors and it is very easy to stack for deeper flanges.
Though the San seal toilet gasket is one of the most popular alternatives to wax ring seals out there, a good number of users say it becomes of no use when it gets a cut. When it is nicked, water gets into the porous foam which is then compressed leading to leaks.
All-in-one Seal Kits- Wax & Rubber Combo.
These kits are created with an intention of reducing the mess that regular wax brings about while creating a stronger seal.
Most of these seals are made up of rubber and wax. They are easy to use can be used by both pros and individuals with little or no plumbing skills.
One of the top products under this category is the NEXT BY DANCO All-in-One Toilet Installation Kit
This Kit includes the Perfect Seal wax ring that is specially designed with a rubber gasket that encapsulates the wax creating a hassle- and mess-free installation.
The rubber gasket also creates an airtight seal keeping harmful sewage gases from leaking into your home.
According to the manufacturer, the innovative design creates a better and 3X stronger seal between the floor and the drain than typical wax rings. Other benefits of this kit include;
- Allows for multiple toilet repositions as needed during installation
- Works with flanges that are 1/2 inch above the floor or 1-1/2 inches below the floor
- Comes with adjustable brass and stainless-steel bolts
- Sliding adapters to tighten the bolts
- Low-profile caps that feature an easy lock and release mechanism
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|
|Maybe re-positioned. Allows user multiple installation attempts||Likely to break apart after the 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.|
Why Wax-free Rings Alternatives are Better
On the other hand, non-wax seals have the following advantages over wax rings:
1. They can be repositioned once installed
Gaskets and seals without wax don’t change shape to that of the connection between the toilet seat and the drain pipe on a permanent basis. When you remove the toilet seat off the seal, the latter regains its shape. Foam material and rubber make such good seals that can be repositioned when renovating or simply adjusting the seal.
2. They can’t leak when subjected to a lot of plunging
Unlike wax rings that may yield to pressure caused by plunging and other such activities, foam and rubber seals stay in place when you plunge the toilet. This ensures that they keep a tight seal that won’t break apart.
3. They fit all toilets (are universal)
A majority of the wax-free toilet seals are universal in nature in that they can be used with different types of toilets without a compromise on the quality of the seal provided. This is a major advantage given that you won’t need to struggle with details about a toilet that was installed several decades ago when purchasing a new seal.
4. They withstand heat
Unlike wax rings, seals made of rubber, foam and other materials don’t melt or get brittle due to exposure to some heat. Your foam seals won’t melt away when you use them with heated floors like wax rings do. In addition, heat won’t have a significant impact on their lifespan like it has on wax rings.
5. They fit toilets on uneven floors or recessed flanges
The fact that you can stack up toilet seals made of foam is a major advantage as they can be stacked to adapt to uneven floors and even recessed flanges. This means that, even when the toilet is located in a room with materials that don’t allow the toilet to be on a flat surface, you’d still get a good seal that keeps sewer gases and wastes within the drainage system.
6. They’re not messy to replace
Foam and rubber seals will regain their shape when you remove the pressure exerted by the toilet seat. Even when damaged, they won’t be in messy pieces like the wax rings are at the end of their useful life. This makes it easy to work with wax-free rings than the ones made of wax.
7. They can be reused
You can reuse non-wax toilets seals thanks to the materials retaining shape and sealing capabilities after each use. Most seals made of rubber or foam regain their shapes once they’re removed from the toilet. This allows you to place them back unlike wax rings which lose shape and even disintegrate when used. This saves a lot in terms of the costs as you don’t need to buy other seals.
8. They can be stacked (more than one ring on the same toilet)
Stacking is what allows non-wax seals to be used on recessed flanges and uneven floors. Stacking also allows the toilet to have a tighter seal if you feel that the current seal isn’t steady enough.
These aspects have seen a rise in the number of people switching to wax-free toilet seals. However, given that a toilet seal is something you only need to check on every few decades, wax rings still work quite fine.
Disadvantages of wax rings
The downsides to using wax rings include the following aspects:
Wax rings can’t be repositioned once installed
If you’ve ever dealt with wax, chances are that you know how delicate it can get. Wax rings are meant to provide an airtight seal and will stick to the opening of the drain pipe and the underside of the toilet seat.
Once you place the toilet seat on the wax ring, it assumes the shape of the connection and fills up any gaps present. In this position, you can’t remove the toilet seat and reposition the wax ring. This is a major downside to wax rings.
They can leak when subjected to a lot of plunging
Given the jelly-like nature of wax rings, plunging can force water and air through the seal of it’s done repeatedly.
If your toilet clogs a lot, meaning that you plunge it many times to unclog it, you may easily have a leak due to the pressure generated by the plunging. This leak can continue even after you stop plunging the toilet.
They don’t fit all toilets (not universal)
With wax rings, you have to find the right size and type of ring for your type of toilet. Otherwise, it won’t provide the needed seal for your toilet. In most cases, wax rings will fit toilets simply based on their sizes in inches. There are thicker or thinner wax rings that should be obtained as instructed by the toilet manufacturer.
They can’t withstand heat
Wax isn’t a friend of heat since it melts at a certain level which is quite low. This makes it quite inappropriate when used in toilets on heated floors. The heating and cooling also damage them and will likely make them brittle. In this state, they fail to provide a tight seal for the toilet.
Don’t fit toilets on uneven floors or recessed flanges
Wax rings are meant for even floors with flanges that are flush with the floor of the house. Uneven floors make it hard to provide a watertight and airtight seal when you’re using a wax ring since these rings are meant to work with specific gaps on a flat plane.
They’re messy to replace
When you want to replace a wax ring on your toilet, you will need to destroy the one in place since it can’t recover its shape for use elsewhere. In fact, you have to scrape it off the opening of the drainpipe to install a new one. This can create such a mess that can gross you out.
They can’t be reused
As stated above, a wax ring can only be used once as it gets destroyed when you try to remove it from its position. Using a putty knife or other object to remove the wax ring results in broken pieces which can’t be used again. Instead, a used wax ring is part of the debris on the toilet that should be cleaned away.
You can’t stack them (more than one ring on the same toilet)
Wax rings can’t be used on uneven floors and recessed flanges since you can’t stack them to provide the needed seal. As you can only use one wax ring, you can only seal a gap equal or less than its thickness. Use any more than that and the seal won’t work.
These aspects have led to the adoption of other types of seals for the toilet like the ones stated above.