How to replace a toilet wax ring - place seal into flange

How To Replace A Toilet Wax Ring

If you see water leaking onto the floor from the bottom edges of your toilet, you should learn how to replace your toilet wax ring. It’s likely the cause of your issue. And a toilet wax ring install with this inexpensive part will save you from having to eventually replace an expensive floor.

What is a Toilet Wax Ring?

Every toilet has a wax ring — also called a toilet bowl gasket or wax seal — that forms a watertight seal between your toilet and the sewer pipe. Because it’s connected to the drain pipe, you can’t see it unless you disconnect your toilet. But it looks just like it sounds: it’s a piece of wax, shaped like a ring or a donut.

The seal’s sole purpose is to prevent leaking from where the toilet connects to the sewer. When installed correctly, the well-sealed toilet will keep you from having to replace your floor due to water damage.

How to replace a toilet wax ring - diagram of wax ring on toilet
The wax ring is hidden underneath your toilet. It creates a watertight seal with the sewer drain so that water does not leak underneath or onto your floors and cause extensive water damage.

When to Replace Your Toilet Wax Ring

How do you know when it’s time for a toilet wax ring install? It’s not like you can see it or hear it. Here are some clues that it’s time to replace or at least be suspicious:

  • If you have to remove your toilet for any reason, including for a remodel, you should replace the wax ring. Lifting the toilet will break the seal; if the wax is old then it may not reseal. 
  • Is your toilet wobbly? You may need to replace the anchor flange (see diagram above — it anchors the toilet to the floor). If the flange needs to be replaced, you also need to replace the wax seal.
  • Water collecting around the base of your toilet is probably the most common indicator. If the problem has been going on for a while, check the floor for warping.
  • A tell-tale sign can come from water damage on the ceiling of the room below your toilet.

How Much Does a Toilet Wax Ring Cost?

Prices vary depending on quality, size, your location (big city vs rural town), and the brand. Having said that, you shouldn’t have to spend more than $5 to $10. You can pay more of course, but there’s no need in most cases.

PRO TIP: You might also need to purchase a new flange, the piece that connects the toilet to the floor. It can also be part of the problem. This will cost another $6 to $30. Remember, even if the problem is the flange (not the wax seal), you should purchase and replace the wax seal. Just by lifting the toilet, you’re creating a possible leak from the seal.

Pro Tip: Check the flange height in relation to your flooring. If the toilet flange is above, even or up to 1/4 inch below the flooring, use a standard wax ring. If the toilet flange is lower than 1/4 inch below the flooring use an extra thick wax ring.

How to Replace the Wax Ring on Your Toilet

Here are five fairly easy steps, with instructions, on how to replace or install a toilet wax ring. If you have any issues, remember, your plumber is always there to help.

  1. Drain, Dry, and Disconnect.

    Turn off the water supply line leading from the wall to the toilet. You should be able to turn the valve by hand, but if it hasn’t moved in several years, it might be sticky.

    Flush the toilet to empty as much water as possible out of the bowl and tank. If you have a wet/dry vacuum, use it to suction up all the water that remains. Otherwise, you’ll have to use a combination of plunging, bailing by hand or sopping up with towels to get the bowl and tank fully dry.

    Next, disconnect the water supply line from the bottom of the toilet tank. There will be a little water in the line, so have your bucket handy to catch it.

  2. Remove Toilet

    Remove the protective caps covering the bolts at the base of the toilet, then remove the bolts and washers using an adjustable wrench.

    All that’s keeping the toilet in place now is gravity and what remains of the deteriorated wax ring. You can gently rock and twist the toilet a bit to loosen it.

    When you’re ready to remove the toilet, get a good grip near the center so that the weight of the bowl and the tank are distributed evenly. Lift with the knees, pulling straight up, and set the toilet to the side.

  3. Scrape it Away

    This is where the real work begins. Using a putty knife, you’ll need to remove as much of the old wax ring as possible from both the bottom of the toilet and the pipe fitting in the floor, called the toilet flange.

    Clean and dry the flange completely before preparing to install the new wax ring. If the flange appears dented or damaged, you might be more comfortable calling your plumber for an assessment before proceeding.

  4. Install Toilet Wax Ring

    Some wax rings are self-adhesive and there may be small design differences among brands, so you should refer to the instructions on your packaging.

    Most toilet wax rings can either be affixed to the bottom of the toilet or to the top of the flange, allowing you to choose whichever you’re more comfortable with.

    With the wax ring centered in place, carefully lower the toilet onto the flange, making sure that the bolt holes in the toilet’s baseline up with the holes in the flange.

  5. Wait for Dry Time

    Close the toilet lid and sit down, using your body weight to compress the wax ring and push the toilet into place. You may need to shift your weight around several times to complete this process. In the end, you want the base of your toilet to be flush with the floor.

    With that done, simply replace the mounting bolts and bolt covers, reattach the water supply line to the tank and reopen the supply line valve. Give the toilet a couple of test flushes while carefully inspecting for any signs of leaks.

If you’re more at ease with video instructions, this is for you.

Call 1-Tom-Plumber if You Need More Help

Don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237). We will immediately handle any emergency plumbingdrain cleaning and drain clearing, and water damage problem, including excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines.

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