How to fix a toilet leaking at the base

toilet leaking from the base

You stumble into the bathroom half-awake, and then your mind snaps to attention when your toes encounter water on the floor. “Why is my toilet leaking from the base?” you ask yourself, followed almost immediately by, “How do I fix a toilet leaking from the base?”

There are four possible causes of a leaking toilet, aside from a cracked bowl. Before you haul out the tools, investigate the possible source of the leak.

Four possible reasons a toilet base leaks:

1) Condensation causes wetness

In a small bathroom in a humid climate, hot showers can lead to condensation forming on the relatively cooler surface of the ceramic toilet cistern (tank) and bowl.  Water then drips onto the floor, making you think the toilet is leaking.

2) The incoming water supply line is loose

The water runs down, making you think the toilet base leaks when the problem is higher up. If the floor is constantly wet around the toilet bowl base and not just when you flush, you’ll need to fix the incoming water supply line where it connects to the cistern (tank).

3) The T bolts that hold the toilet bowl to the floor are loose

If bolts are loose, it can cause the wax seal ring to break up due to the toilet bowl moving. 

4) The wax ring has degraded over time

The wax ring that forms the seal to prevent water from leaking at the point where the pipe joins the toilet bowl may lose its flexibility over time, and when it dries out, water escapes.

How to fix a leaking toilet in five easy steps

Step #1: Reduce moisture in the bathroom

If you notice condensation, install a bathroom extractor fan to get the moist air vented outside. The other option is a Showerdome that is custom cut and fitted over the shower to keep moist air inside.

Step #2: Repair the inlet pipe

If the water inlet pipe to the cistern is loose, use the thin white plumbers’ tape from your hardware store.

First, turn off the water supply, flush the cistern, so there is no water, and check where the incoming water pipe goes into the cistern. Unscrew the inlet pipe from the cistern. Wind some plumber’s tape around the inlet pipe’s thread and refasten, ensuring the nut is firmly in place.

Turn the water back on and test for drips.

Step #3: Make sure you have the appropriate tools

To tackle causes 3 and 4, you will need to assemble your tools – an adjustable open-ended wrench, assorted screwdrivers, a hacksaw, rubber gloves, a putty knife, some cleaning cloths and an antibacterial bathroom cleaner.

Step #4: Check if the T-bolts are loose

T-bolts are on either side of the bowl and secure the toilet to the floor. Tighten them with the wrench to firmly attach the toilet to the floor. If this does not stop the toilet leaking at the base, proceed to the next step.

Step #5 Install a new wax ring

The installation of a new wax ring is straightforward. Turn off the water to the cistern (tank) by turning the valve on the side of the toilet to the closed position. Flush the toilet, so all the water from the cistern is emptied. Get rid of the water in the bowl using cloths to dry it out.

First, remove the nut that holds the tailpiece of the toilet bowl to the wastewater pipe, then disconnect the inlet pipe to the toilet bowl. Next, loosen the T-bolts. If over time, they have seized, you may need to use the hacksaw to get them off, and you’ll need to buy some more to replace them. Once everything is loose, pull the toilet bowl away from the waste pipe and then lift it upwards. Set the toilet bowl on an old towel on its side.

Scrape away the old wax using a putty knife. Be thorough in getting it all out because, over time, it loses flexibility and adding new wax to degraded wax may still allow leakage. Once all the wax is cleared, use the cleaning liquid to ensure the pipe and tailpiece are clean and free of mould before drying with the cloth and applying the new wax ring.

Once the wax ring is in place, fit the toilet tailpiece back onto the pipe, tighten the nut holding the pipe to the toilet bowl, making sure the toilet is lined up in its old position. Tighten the T-bolts to anchor the toilet bowl firmly in place. Reconnect the inlet pipe from the cistern. Turn the water supply back on, allow the cistern to fill and check what happens when you flush. There should be no water leaking from the base of the toilet.

Alternatively, all you need to do is call HPG Solutions. One of our friendly and experienced plumbers will provide a quote to fix a toilet leaking at the base.