How to Fix a Leaking Toilet Quickly in 7 Steps


There’s almost nothing as disheartening for a homeowner than seeing a puddle of water pooling under the toilet. Ignored for too long, a leaking toilet can damage finished flooring, make the floor around the toilet spongy, and even rot not only the floor surfaces and subfloor but the underlying framing, too. The longer you wait, the costlier the repairs will be.

This guide will help you determine how to fix a leaking toilet:

Step #1: Determine Where the Leaking Comes From

Is your toilet leaking from the bottom, leaking from the base when flushed, or leaking from a malfunctioning tank? Determining the cause is your first step to fixing a leaking toilet. Fortunately, most fixes are simple and easy, allowing any handy plumbers to solve the issue.

Step #2: Gather Your Tools

When you are researching on how to fix a leaking toilet, it is important that you have the right tools. Fortunately, the tools required for this DIY job are readily available in most homeowners’ garages or at the hardware store.

You’ll need rubber gloves, a hand saw, an open-end wrench, a screwdriver set, a putty knife and some O-rings and washers. You may also need parts from a toilet repair kit, including a new toilet wax ring and new toilet bolts.

Step #3: Replace the Bolts Where the Tank Meets the Toilet

Often, toilets leak simply because the connection bolts where the tank meets the toilet are loose. Check these bolts to determine if they’re loose. Also check whether water is gathering at the bolts or directly underneath them on the floor. Use a screwdriver and tighten downwards to create a strong seal.

Dry the area and wait at least 15 minutes. If water continues to gather in this area, you’ll know it’s time to replace the bolts and washers completely. To do so, you’ll need to shut off the water, drain the tank, and install the new washers and bolts.

Step #4: Replace the Bolts Where the Toilet Base Meets the Floor

More often than not, a leaking toilet indicates loosened plumbing connections.

If the step above didn’t fix the issue, move on to the tee bolts on either side of the toilet base. The bolts that secure the base of the toilet might be loose, which can break the seal formed by the wax ring. Remove the plastic covers and tighten the bolts with an open-end wrench.

If loosened bolts here were the issue, tightening the toilet against the floor should compress the seal against the sewer pipe and restore the seal.

Step #5: Remove the Toilet

If the bolts weren’t the issue but water is pooling at the base of the toilet, then it’s likely that your wax ring is either worn out or damaged. The wax ring seals the bottom of the toilet against the sewer pipe. If the seal is broken, water will seep out around the base every time you flush.

To get to the wax ring and replace it, you’ll need to remove the entire toilet. Be careful when moving the toilet since the porcelain is prone to cracking.

To remove the toilet, make sure the water is shut off at the valve and drained from the toilet tank as mentioned above. You might want to use a plunger to push out any remaining water. Then, disconnect the water supply line by loosening the nut that attaches it to the tank.

Next, using a wrench, loosen the tee bolts that hold the toilet to the floor. You may need a handsaw to cut the bolts if they’re too corroded to turn. To remove the toilet, gently rock it to remove the seal and lift it off the flange.

Once the toilet is removed, stuff a rag in the sewer pipe to prevent gases from escaping into your home.

Step #6: Replace the Wax Ring

Now, on to replacing the wax ring.

Put on your rubber gloves and use your putty knife to gently remove the old wax ring. It’s critical to remove all the old wax that might be stuck in place to ensure the new ring will have a good seal.

Install the new wax ring over the flange and press down. Slide the bolts into the slots, remove the rag from the drain outlet and seal it into a garbage bag. Return the toilet to its place.

Create a watertight seal with the wax ring by putting pressure on the toilet with your body weight, then replace the washers and nuts. Avoid overtightening as it can crack the toilet’s porcelain.

Reattach the water supply and turn the water back on at the shutoff valve. Test the toilet to ensure it works.

Step #7: Clean the Toilet Thoroughly

Use a disinfectant cleaner to thoroughly clean the toilet and the floor. Rinse well and dry.

These simple steps should fix your leaking toilet. If you have the right tools and these instructions at hand, this plumbing repair job should be easily handled on a DIY basis.