Expecting Guests This Thanksgiving? Better Fix That Leaky Toilet

If you're expecting relatives and friends over for Thanksgiving, and you have a very leaky toilet, go ahead and repair the leak now. Putting the fix off until after the holiday ends isn't a good idea, especially if you plan to serve desserts and dishes known to upset the bowels, like sweet potatoes and blueberry pie. Before you serve your next holiday meal, keep the information and helpful tips below in mind.

What's Wrong with Your Toilet?

It doesn't matter if you have an old or new toilet: it can still develop leaks over time. Most leaks occur in the tank when parts such as a broken floater or rusted hose clamp loosen up or rust. Replacing the parts usually solves the problem before it becomes worse. But if the leak occurs around the base of your toilet, you need to act fast. A leaking base most likely indicates a damaged wax ring or toilet seal. 

Wax rings should seal in water and waste as they flush down our toilet's drainage line. However, the seal can crack from stress or dry out from a lack of lubrication. Instead of keeping wastewater sealed inside the pipe, a broken seal can allow wastewater to leak onto the floor. If the base of the toilet is caulked, you probably won't see the actual ring. In this case, you can use your senses of smell and touch to verify that there's a damaged toilet seal.

Toilets that leak around the base tend to give off a strange odor that smells similar to raw sewage. Sewer odors can escape the pipeline connected to the toilet's base because there's nothing containing them. Mold might also grow around the base. Mold gives off a musty scent that can mingle with the sewer odors in your bathroom. Not only are the problems unpleasant, but the two odors are toxic and can cause respiratory problems over time.

The other way to see whether the wax ring is broken or damaged is to sit on the toilet. If the toilet feels wobbly or shifts in any direction, you have a wax-ring problem. Wax rings also prevent toilet bases from moving during use. The movement can inadvertently expose the opening of the closet bend beneath the toilet. Closet bends allow solid and liquid waste to travel into and through the sewer line under your bathroom at a specific angle or slope. If the closet bend moves out of place, contaminated debris might back up into your bathroom. 

To keep any of the problems above from occurring, have a professional plumber replace the wax ring.

How Do You Fix Your Toilet?

Replacing a wax ring isn't an easy job. To access the ring, you must remove the thick bolts securing the base to the floor. Even if the base is loose due to the wax ring, you can still damage your flooring and plumbing if you remove the bolts improperly. It's safer, quicker, and less stressful to have a plumber do the project for you.

A plumber will generally disconnect the water supply to your bathroom before they change out a wax ring. This step prevents water from flooding into your bathroom. Afterward, a plumbing contractor also inspects the closet bend and subsequent sewer lines to ensure that there remain in good shape. If a contractor finds an issue, they'll discuss the best methods to repair them. If the closet bend and pipes are fine, a plumber will replace the ring and secure the toilet back into its proper position.

You can keep your toilet and wax ring in good repair by inspecting the base regularly for leaking water. Contact a local plumbing contractor for services if you experience any issues in the future.