You may have experienced water on the floor of your bathroom and started to panic. “Where’s it coming from?” you ask yourself. You check the sink and the shower and find no problems. Suddenly, an overwhelming sense of dread starts to grip you. The water’s coming from the toilet. Yet it’s not coming from the tank or the bowl; it’s dribbling from the base. If this has happened to you, here are some reasons why the base of your toilet is leaking and what you can do to amend the problem.
Damaged Wax Ring
Properly installed toilets all feature a wax ring that’s placed between the base of the toilet and the flange attached to the waste/sewer line on the floor. The wax ring creates an impenetrable barrier that prevents any waste from seeping into the surrounding floor. When these wax rings fail, water can pool underneath the toilet, eventually causing the subfloor to rot and the water to leak into the bathroom.
Although wax rings typically last 20 to 30 years, they can sometimes compress and fail if the toilet isn’t properly secured. In many cases, a strong sewage smell is apparent when a wax ring is about to fail. If you smell this, it’s time to replace the wax ring. Try not to wait until the base leaks before you switch it out, or you may cause inadvertent or more severe damage.
Loose Tee Bolts
Tee bolts are the most common method to fasten toilets to the floor. However, these tee bolts can loosen over time. When this happens, the toilet doesn’t form an impermeable, water-tight seal with the wax ring underneath. Without the water-tight seal, the splashing that occurs during flushing can push water out onto the bathroom floor.
Fortunately, you can easily fix this problem. Grab a wrench, tighten the bolts, and the problem is solved, provided that the wax ring is still effective.
Faulty Water Supply Lines
If you notice water around the base of your toilet, but your wax ring is pristine and your tee bolts are tightened, take a glance at the water supply lines that attach to the wall. Typically, a flexible metal hose connects to the water supply in the wall. But if these hoses aren’t installed properly or aren’t tightened, water can leak onto the floor. This gives the impression that your toilet base is leaking, but in reality, you just may need to tighten or replace these hoses.
What to Do When There’s a Leak Around the Base
If you notice a leak around the base toilet for any reason, remember that this water is unsanitary and possibly contaminated with sewage. Stop using your toilet immediately, and use bleach to give the affected area a hospital-grade cleaning. Turn on the bathroom fan to remove the excess fumes, and only reenter the area once it’s dry.
If your toilet is leaking around its base, don’t ignore the problem. Doing so can lead to floor damage, a costly water bill, and unsanitary conditions in your bathroom. Oftentimes, these tips can fix the problem with a leaky toilet base, but if not, don’t hesitate to call a professional to assess, diagnose, and treat the leak.
Express Plumbing is a division of EPS Inc. We’ve been serving the Bay Area for multiple decades by providing plumbing, engineering, and underground construction services. We serve the South Bay by providing an experienced plumbing staff that’s eager to help you when you have any plumbing issues including a leaky toilet. Contact us with any questions you have.