Have you ever noticed that the area around the base of your toilet is stained, wet, or moist? Have you ever looked at your ceiling and seen that there is water leaking through from above, only to find out that it’s coming from the toilet upstairs? These signs could indicate that you have one of the following problems: a damaged pipe, a leaking seal around the toilet drain, or a broken flange.

Image thanks to Homestead and Prepper on Flickr

Why Does it Matter?

You might not think that the moisture around the base of your toilet is a problem, but you could be in for much bigger trouble. The problem is that if there’s a leak into the subfloor of your bathroom from your toilet, it could damage the structure of your home. It can leak into the flooring and the ceiling below, causing damage that could cost thousands of dollars to repair.

What Else Could It Be?

Of course, if you do notice that there’s a possible leak around the base of your toilet, you need to do some investigating to identify the cause of it. The bottom line is that you should never ignore a problem such as this because it can lead to some serious repair bills later on.

Here are some other reasons that you might have moisture collecting around the toilet:

  • A small leak in the drainpipe underneath the toilet
  • Condensation forming on the tank and dripping around the toilet
  • A leaking gasket or other connection under the toilet

Should You Fix It Yourself?

It makes economic sense to fix it yourself, especially if you’re on a limited budget, but the fact is that not everyone will be comfortable doing this. Not every person will have the skills to do it either.

If you’ve decided to tackle the repair job by yourself, the first thing to do is check out the plumbing codes in your area. The truth is that not every jurisdiction legally allows someone who is not a licensed plumber to do the work.

Once you’ve checked this and found that you can do it by yourself, it’s useful to find someone to help. The toilet is heavy and you’ll need to remove it if you’re going to replace the wax ring around the base of it.

The other thing to understand is that while putting in a new wax ring is not hard in technical terms, it can be very messy. This is why lots of people enlist the professional help of a plumber. In addition, getting the toilet out to replace the wax ring is not an easy job. Toilets are heavy and you’ll certainly need help to remove it and then replace it.

In fact, even lots of professional plumbers with plenty of experience will use what’s called a Toilet Truck to help them with the job. This is a heavy duty frame that lifts the toilet and then holds it while the repairs are being done.

Working Out How to Do it

If you’re pushing on with the job, one thing to do is watch tutorial videos online. The thing to remember with this is that there are lots of tutorial videos to help you get started, they are not all done by people who understand what they’re doing. This is, unfortunately, one of the big downsides of information on the World Wide Web.

Some Sage Advice

Here’s some advice on what to do if you have a leaking toilet that needs fixing:

  • Check the local guidelines in your area if you’re planning to fix it yourself
  • Make sure that you watch online tutorials that have been made by people who know what they’re doing
  • Make sure that you buy completely new replacement parts for everything that you’re going to remove, including the wax ring, the flange, any bolts, water supply line, and even the toilet
  • Don’t hesitate to get the issue fixed because neglecting it could result in serious and expensive damage to your ceiling or sub-floor
  • Make sure that you place towels or other protective sheets around the toilet on the floor to protect it during the repair
  • Turn off the main water supply to your home before starting
  • Disconnect the water supply line that goes to your tank and then flush to drain the bowl
  • Separate the tank and the bowl and loosen the bolts if they are underneath your toilet
  • Rock the toilet to loosen it and then lift it out to examine the wax ring
  • Clean off the old wax and then install the new wax ring
  • Clean the area with rubbing alcohol if possible
  • Ensure a clean and tight seal for the new wax ring and flange
  • Lower the bowl and tighten the bolts

There’s no doubt that it’s a tricky process that can also be heavy going. This is also why many people enlist the help of a professional plumber. If you decide to go at it on your own please take our suggestion to watch several of these DIY videos before you tackle the project. Here is one to get you started: