Toilet Wax Ring Leak Symptoms

The section of the toilet on the floor is occupied by a wax ring on the inside. This ring, as the name suggests, is made up of wax which makes it sticky. In this way, it provides a watertight and airtight seal between the toilet and the drainpipe to the sewer.

With time, this wax ring can get worn out, brittle leading to leaks. Toilet wax ring leak symptoms include flooding around the base of the toilet, wobbly toilet, sewer smells and rotting floor.

Following are details on signs of a leaky wax ring, how to tell when the wax ring is properly sealed and maintenance tips to avoid the leaks.

Water Around the Base of the Toilet

When the wax ring is leaky, you’re likely to see some wetness on the floor around the base of the toilet. This occurs because the seal that is meant to be created the wax ring is broken.

This can occur especially after you flush the toilet. As the amount of water increases in the toilet system due to flushing, some of it finds its way out of the wax ring and onto the floor.

Water in toilet floor
Water in toilet floor

However, it is important to note that flooding is always not a result of a leaking wax ring. Leaks at the base of your toilet may occur because of other reasons. Carrying out some checks can establish the exact source. Here are a few things you can do to establish the source of the water around the toilet:

Examine the water fixtures

Check behind the toilet and see whether the water supply connections are damaged.

Check the closet bolts

Closet bolts loosen at times and thus making the water leak from the base. If they are loose, tighten them or replace them.

Wipe out the water

The water around the toilet floor could be a simple spillage. Wipe out the water with a dry towel, if it does not come back, then if it was just a spillage.

Check out for other sources of water such as the sink or the bathtub. The water leaks could be coming from these sources and stagnate around the toilet.

After you have tested all the ways above and none seems to be the problem, then the toilet wax ring is the cause of the leaks. It is time to replace the wax ring.

Wobbly Toilet

The wax ring not only provides a seal for the toilet but it also makes the toilet stable. The toilet’s base is placed directly on the wax ring to provide a watertight seal.

If the seal is compromised in any way, the stability of the toilet won’t be intact. For this reason, the toilet will tend to wobble around when the wax ring is damaged. You can notice this when you sit on the toilet or when washing it.

Wobbly Toilet
Loose Toilet

Sewer Smell Indoors

As stated earlier, the wax ring under the toilet provides an airtight seal between the toilet and the drain pipe. Gases from the sewage system come up and end up at the P-trap which has water to keep the gases trapped and out of the home.

When the wax ring is damaged, it ends up letting the sewer gases into the home. If you’ve been smelling some sewer gases with the smell getting stronger when you enter the toilet, it could be an issue with the wax ring. This issue needs an immediate fix before your home gets filled with these awful gases.

Rotting Floor Around the Toilet

If you have a wooden floor on which the toilet is seated and there is a leak from the toilet, the wood might rot away. You can see this either from the area around the base of the toilet or below the toilet from a floor below.

A rotting floor should be addressed quickly before it becomes an issue that quickly runs out of hand. The floor might break apart leading to costly repairs.

Water Damages on Ceiling

Mold, marks, or any other sign of ruination on the ceiling especially directly below your upper floor bathroom can also be a pointer to wax ring leaking. This is especially if your house has a toilet installed on the second or third floor.

If caulking around the toilet is done during installation, water cannot find its way out when the wax ring is damaged. In this case, the water will travel under the floor, causing damage to either the ceiling under the toilet or the floor or both.

Most plumbers agree that toilet leaks that get into the floor or ceiling are quite dangerous and should be fixed as soon as possible. These leaks can lead to damage that can result in your toilet falling through the ceiling.

How to Tell if Wax Ring is Sealed Properly

While most homeowners use the toilet without knowing whether the parts work properly, you can tell whether the toilet’s wax ring works correctly when you notice the following aspects:

Firm toilet

If the toilet is firmly mounted on and has no signs of rocking on the sides, then the wax ring is properly sealed. During installation, the wax ring is compressed to fit the toilet and the flange thus creating the seal.

No leaks

A properly sealed toilet will not have any leaks on the toilet floor.

Absence of Odor

There will be no bad odors coming from your toilet.

No rot or wetness around the base of the toilet and ceiling of the bathroom

These aspects mean that the wax ring is working properly and doesn’t allow water or gases to escape the sewer line.

Tips to prevent Wax Ring Leaks

It’s quite easy to maintain a wax ring as it needs little attention from you. As long as you don’t have any of the signs above, you can be sure that it’s in good condition. Besides that, follow the tips below:

Reduce the distance between the flange and the toilet

Ensure that the distance between the toilet and the flange is short. This is because when the distance is long, the wax ring does not form a tight seal. You should consider this especially during the installation of the toilet.

You can use a flange heightener to reduce the distance between the toilet and flange to ensure that the seal is good and tight enough.

Avoid using a plunger

Most people do not know that a plunger can tamper with your toilet wax ring. If your stoppage is in the pipe below the toilet rather than in the pee trap, then you are causing damage to the wax ring when plunging.

Further Reading: Can Plunging a Toilet Damage the Wax Ring?

Caulk your toilet

Caulking your toilet is an efficient way to prevent toilet wax ring leaks. Caulking seals the base of your toilet thus preventing the leakage of water to your bathroom floor. During the installation process, ensure that the plumber caulks the toilet.

Tighten the t-bolts

Even when the wax ring is in good condition, loose bolts and nuts can make the toilet wobbly and leaky. You might easily mistake this for a faulty wax ring.

The t-bolts in the toilet tend to loosen up frequently. Ensure that you check and fasten the t-bolts more often so that the toilet does not end up loosening.

Always check for signs of a faulty wax ring by inspecting the area around the base of the toilet. It should be dry and the toilet should be stable (not wobbly).

Replace the wax ring when you notice a problem. In most cases, wax rings can last as long as 30 years or even more. Unless they’re broken, there’s no need to replace them as they can last as long as the toilet itself.

When replacing the wax ring for your toilet, make sure you find the right type and size. This will ensure it provides a tight seal from sewer gases and wastes. Also, avoid cheap options since they will not last as long as the quality ones. It’s one cost to incur once and forget about. Spending a little more goes a long way in keeping your toilet in good shape.

Further Reading: How to Replace Toilet Wax Ring

A wax ring doesn’t require much attention and most toilets will never have theirs replaced even for decades on end.

Further Reading: Toilet Wax Ring Alternatives

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