Why Is My Toilet Leaking at the Base?

Do you see water puddled at the base of the toilet? Don’t ignore this problem. Left unaddressed, your toilet will continue leaking slowly with each flush, allowing dirty water to pool on the bathroom floor and potentially causing expensive mold damage and rot in the subfloor. 

A toilet leaking at the base often points to a damaged wax ring. This component should form a tight seal between the toilet base and the drainpipe. When it breaks, water may seep out every time you flush. Fortunately, it’s simple to find the source of the leak and troubleshoot the problem. If you conclude the wax ring needs to be replaced, we recommend reaching out to a plumber for qualified toilet repair

Test Your Leaky Toilet 

Occasionally, a nearby leak can make the toilet look like it is leaking at the base. Follow these steps to find out precisely where the water is coming from. 

Check for Condensation 

The “leak” around your toilet could not be a leak at all. It’s possible, 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 towel and flush the toilet. Look carefully —if no additional water pools around the base, condensation is the likely problem. Running the exhaust fan when you shower is an easy fix. 

Examine the Toilet Tank 

Run your hands around the surface of the tank for any dampness. To rule out condensation, clean up any droplets with a paper towel. Then, check again, checking for loose bolts or cracked porcelain leaking water onto the floor. Tighten any loose bolts you see. If the tank is broken, you’ll need to replace your toilet. 

Inspect the Water Hose 

Examine the cold-water supply line on the backside of the toilet. A loose connection, damaged hose or faulty shut-off valve sometimes can 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 most likely leaking at the base like you originally guessed. Before reaching out to a plumber, try tightening the tee bolts that secure the toilet to the floor. You may need to remove 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 crack the porcelain. If the bolts spin freely, you may need to replace them. 

Look for Signs of a Worn-Out Wax Ring 

If bolting the toilet tighter to the floor doesn’t help, a faulty wax ring could be the cause after all. Besides water soaking the floor around the toilet, you may detect a sewage smell, indicating a broken sewer line seal. And if the toilet wobbles, this might mean it’s sitting on a broken flange, the part that connects the flush system to the plumbing line. A rocking toilet might also point to 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 discover that a faulty wax ring is indeed the problem, fixing it involves removing the toilet, replacing the ring and reinstalling the toilet. While it’s possible to attempt the work without a plumbing license, DIY toilet removal is not recommended. Here’s why you should leave the task to a experienced plumber: 

  • Porcelain is an unforgiving material. If you whack the toilet on the floor or hit it too hard with a plumbing tool, it could chip, forcing you to pay for a toilet replacement on top of everything else. 
  • Lifting and lowering the large plumbing fixture is a two-person job. Even then, poor lifting techniques could leave you with an strained back. 
  • Checking for water-damaged subflooring requires a trained eye. And if any damage has occurred, it should be fixed/repaired before reinstalling the toilet, something a plumber can help coordinate. 
  • If you discover the entire flange at the bottom of the toilet is damaged, it will need to be replaced. This is even harder than replacing the wax ring. 
  • Removing the toilet, making the required repair and reinstalling it can take a few hours, if not longer. You doubtlessly have better things to do, giving you yet another reason to leave the task to a plumber. 

Schedule Toilet Repair with an Expert Plumber 

At Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, fixing 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, don’t worry, and let us take care of it. To schedule reliable toilet repair in your area, 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.