A common toilet problem is a leak developing at the base of the toilet bowl, where the bowl sits on the floor. A poor seal between the bowl and the closet flange usually causes this kind of leak. If this is the case, then technically, it will only leak when the toilet is flushed and water flows through the closet flange. If the leak seems to be continuous, even when the toilet isnt used, then there may be something else leaking on the toilet and pooling up around the base.Resetting a toilet
Often a leaky tank to bowl kit or a leaky supply line will show up as a pool of water at the base of the toilet, so it is good to check and make sure that nothing is leaking from the toilet tank before you assume it is the closet seal that is leaking.
Another common symptom of a leaky bowl seal is an odor coming from the base of the toilet. Toilets are self-trapping meaning that the water they hold in the bowl traps the sewer odor from coming into the house. The seal to the closet flange is below this trap, so if it leaks, then the sewer odor can freely waft out into your bathroom!
The three main causes of a bad seal are:
Faulty installation. Often the toilet is installed improperly and the wax ring never seals right to begin with.
A rocking toilet bowl. If the toilet bowl moves at all when someone sits on it, then the wax seal underneath will usually lose its seal.
A broken closet flange. If the closet bolts are over tightened, they can often break the tabs where they are inserted in the closet flange, and then the flange has to be repaired before the toilet bowl can be set properly.
So, now that you are ready to repair the seal, you will need to shut the water off at the shut off valve and drain the water out of the tank and bowl with a sponge or wet-vacuum, etc. Once you have the toilet emptied of water, you can disconnect the supply line from the tank and remove the nuts that fasten the bowl down on the closet bolts.
If the closet bolts are in good shape, you should be able to remove the nuts using a nut-driver or a small adjustable wrench. If the nuts dont want to spin off because of corrosion, then you may have to cut the nuts off of the bolts carefully using a small hacksaw. Plumbers often carry a mini-hacksaw for this job that you can buy at your local plumbing supply store.
Once you have the supply line and the closet nuts off, the toilet can be lifted straight up off of the closet flange and set down on an old towel or a piece of cardboard. Dont set it down on the bare floor unless you want to leave a nasty stain on the floor!
Once the toilet is pulled, scrape the old wax ring off of the flange and inspect the flange to make sure it is not cracked or damaged. Also check the height of the flange. It should be level with the floor, or just slightly higher than the floor surface. If the flange is more than a higher than the floor, or the flange is below the floor surface, then the flange itself is improperly installed and will have to be corrected before proceeding.
Finally, install the new wax ring on the bottom of the toilet bowl or set it centered on the flange itself. Also make sure to use NEW brass closet bolts. Reusing the old bolts often causes problems that are easily avoided by using new bolts. Now carefully pick up the toilet by the bowl and set is straight down, with the bowl holes centered on the closet bolts.
This is the most difficult part of the job and this is definitely the most common area where amateurs make mistakes. They either push the wax seal off the center while doing this, or they deform the seal in some other way while setting the bowl on the bolts. The trick is to set the bowl down level and centered in one flowing motion. I cant tell you how many toilets I have seen leak and ruin floors that were just installed, because the floor guy himself screwed up this part of the job! Smart floor installers avoid this liability and have a professional plumber set the toilets after the new floors are installed!
Once the bowl is set, you can carefully use your weight to push the bowl completely down to rest on the floor surface. If there are any gaps between the bowl and the floor, they should be shimmed with plastic shims that you can buy at a plumbing supply store. The last step is to tighten the bolts snug (but not so tight that you crack the flange or break the porcelain) and sit on the bowl to make sure that it doesnt rock. Then caulk around the base with some tile caulk or silicone and reconnect the water supply.
In order to put the little bolt caps on, you will usually have to cut the excess part of the bolts off with a hacksaw.
If everything was done properly, you should have a nice new seal for years to come!