Why Is My Toilet Leaking at the Base?

Do you spy water puddled around the toilet? Don’t put your head in the sand. Left unaddressed, your toilet will continue leaking a little bit with each flush, allowing unsanitary water to pool on the bathroom floor and potentially causing potentially dangerous mold damage and rot in the subfloor. 

A toilet spraying out water at the base often points to a bad wax ring. This part is designed to form a tight seal between the toilet base and the drainpipe. When it breaks, water may escape every time you flush. Fortunately, it’s simple to find the source of the leak and troubleshoot the problem. If you determine the wax ring needs to be replaced, we advise reaching out to a plumber for quality toilet repair

Test Your Leaky Toilet 

Sometimes, a nearby leak can make the toilet appear to be leaking at the base. Follow these steps to find out specifically where the water is coming from. 

Check for Condensation 

The “leak” around your toilet might not be a leak at all. Instead, water vapor might be condensing on the bowl or tank and puddling onto the floor. To check for this, soak up any standing water with a paper towel and flush the toilet. Look closely —if no additional water pools around the base, condensation is the likely culprit. Using the exhaust fan when you shower is an easy way to solve this problem. 

Examine the Toilet Tank 

Run your hands around the exterior of the tank for any wetness. To rule out condensation, dry up any droplets with a dry washcloth. Then, examine it again, looking for loose bolts or cracked porcelain leaking water onto the floor. Tighten any loose bolts you find. If the tank is cracked, you’ll need to replace your toilet. 

Inspect the Water Hose 

Examine the cold-water supply line behind the toilet. A loose connection, damaged hose or worn out shut-off valve could cause a leak. If tightening the fittings doesn’t help, you may need a plumber to replace the water supply hose. 

Tighten the Tee Bolts 

If these troubleshooting tips don’t solve the problem, your toilet is more likely than not leaking at the base like you originally guessed. Before reaching out to a plumber, try tightening the tee bolts that hold the toilet to the floor. You may need to pry off the decorative plastic caps with a putty knife or flathead screwdriver to access the bolt underneath. Be careful not to screw the bolt too tight, as this could break the porcelain. If the bolts spin freely, you could need to buy new ones. 

Look for Signs of a Worn-Out Wax Ring 

If bolting the toilet tighter to the floor doesn’t stop the leaking, a faulty wax ring could be the problem after all. Besides water pooling around the toilet, you may notice a sewage smell, indicating a broken sewer line seal. And if the toilet wobbles, this could mean it’s sitting on a broken flange, the piece of equipment that connects the flush system to the plumbing line. A rocking toilet might also be a sign of a soft subfloor resulting from the leak, which requires immediate attention to prevent the problem from getting worse. 

Hire a Plumber to Replace the Wax Ring 

If you determine that a failed wax ring is indeed the problem, resolving it requires removing the toilet, replacing the ring and reinstalling the toilet. While it’s possible to do the fix without a plumbing license, DIY toilet removal is not recommended. Here’s why you should leave the issue to a experienced plumber: 

  • Porcelain is a surprisingly delicate material. If you bang the toilet on the floor or hit it too hard with a plumbing tool, it could break, forcing you to pay for a toilet replacement on top of everything else. 
  • Lifting and lowering the large plumbing fixture is a two-person task. Even then, poor lifting techniques could leave you with an strained back. 
  • Checking for water-damaged subflooring requires a experienced eye. And if any damage has been done, it should be addressed before reinstalling the toilet, something a plumber can help arrange. 
  • If you detect that the entire flange below the toilet is damaged, it will need to be replaced. This is even more difficult than replacing the wax ring. 
  • Removing the toilet, making the necessary repair and reinstalling it can take a few hours, if not longer. You most likely have better ways to spend your time, giving you yet another reason to leave the repair to a plumber. 

Schedule Toilet Repair with an Expert Plumber 

At Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, repairing toilet leaks is one of our fortes. Whether you follow the troubleshooting tips outlined above before reaching out, or you want us to handle everything from start to finish, we’ve got you covered. Every job is backed by our 100% satisfaction guarantee,* so sit back, take it easy, and let us take care of the problem. To schedule reliable toilet repair in your neighborhood, please contact Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing today

*Not applicable to the Advantage Program. See your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is subject to certain restrictions and limitations as set forth in the applicable Terms and Conditions. 

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