Green Lifestyle

Published on January 20th, 2015 | by Peter Young


How To Replace The Wax Ring On Your Toilet


A leaking toilet may be one of the last things you think of when it comes to saving water and money throughout your home, but if left unchecked one of these could end up costing you thouands of dollars. Fortunately, fixing some of the most common types of toilet leaks (like fixing a leaky toilet flapper or a leaky supply line for instance) isn’t very hard to do. All it takes is a little know how and the right tools. Just follow these steps to learn how to replace a leaky wax ring on your toilet.

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • Wrench
  • Putty knife
  • Sponge
  • Mineral spirits (optional)
  • New wax ring

Before starting the process of replacing your toilet’s worn out wax ring, be sure to watch this video to familiarize yourself with the process:

How to: replace the wax ring on your toilet

1. Turn off the water to the toilet. The first thing you’ll want to do is turn off the water to the toilet. Located near the base of your toilet there should be a knob connected to a hose, this is the toilet’s water supply line and valve. Simply turn the valve to the right until it’s finger tight.

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2. Remove the lid on the back of the toilet. Before continuing in the process it’s a good idea to remove the lid to the back of the toilet. This way you can be sure that your toilet is empty before you try to move it, and you won’t accidentally have the lid fall off the toilet when you go to move it. Thus preventing any unnecessary damage to your toilet or yourself.

3. Disconnect the water supply line. Next you’ll want to disconnect the toilet’s water supply line from water supply knob. To do this all you’ll need is a wrench, simple take it and loosen the bolt that connects the supply line to the knob. Once it’s loose the supply line should lift free.

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4. Flush the toilet. Now, go ahead and flush your toilet. This will empty most of the water from the toilet and make it easier to move. After the toilet has finished flushing, take your sponge and soak up any excess water in the toilet tank.

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5. Remove the mounting bolts from the base of the toilet. Take your wrench and loosen the two mounting bolts located at the base of your toilet by turning your wrench to the left (counter-clockwise). Once the bolts are loose lift them free from the toilet and set them the side.

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6. Lift the toilet free and place it into your bathtub or take it outside. STOP. Before lifting the toilet be sure that you’ve completed steps 1-5. If you’ve neglected to perform any of these steps you’ll likely damage your toilet, flood the bathroom and create a giant mess. If you have in-fact completed the first five steps, go ahead and lift the toilet free from the closet bolts. The toilet may be a little heavy, so it may not be a bad idea to get a friend to help you out with this. Also, be sure to grab the toilet at it’s base, not the toilet tank. Lifting by the toilet tank could damage the toilet. Once it’s free of the closet bolts, gently set it in the toilet or take it outside, this way you’ll prevent ay residual water from draining out onto your bathroom floor.

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7. Scrape away any old wax from both the floor and the bottom side of the toilet. Now that you’ve lifted your toilet free it’s time to scrape away the old wax. Take your putty knife and remove as much of the old wax as possible. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but the more you can remove the better the seal will be between the toilet and the new wax ring. It may be helpful to use some mineral spirits soaked into a rag when it comes to removing the old wax, but typically scraping should be enough.

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8. Push the new wax ring into place on the bottom side of the toilet. Now that you’ve removed as much of the old wax as possible it’s time to install the new wax ring. Simply take the wax ring and push it onto the bottom of the toilet.

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9. Gently place the toilet back into position. Now that you’ve installed the new wax ring onto the base of the toilet it’s time to put the toilet back in place. Gently lower the toilet down onto the closet bolts and push it down onto the floor, using the bolts as a guide. Once you have the toilet back in place, you’ll want to put some pressure down on it from the top to spread the wax around and make the seal as watertight as possible. You may even want to sit on the toilet for added weight. By pressing the toilet down onto the floor it will help to evenly spread the wax and ensure a good seal.

10. Secure the mounting bolts at the base of the toilet. Now that your toilet has been put in place you’ll want to secure it. Take your mounting bolts and with your fingers secure them in place. Once the bolts are finger tight, take your wrench and snug up the fit. Just be careful to not overtighten them, as doing so could cause the porcelain on your toilet’s base to crack, if this happens your toilet wont be securely attached to the floor and that could cause it to leak. So tighten the bolts evenly–a little on one side, then on the other, then back…not all at once on one side.

11. Reconnect the water supply line and put the lid back on toilet. Once the toilet is secured to the closet bolts, the next step is to reconnect the water supply line and put the lid back onto the tank of the toilet. Simply line up your toilets supply line with the water supply knob  and use your wrench to secure it in place. Once you’d done that gently set the lid back on top of the toilet tank.

12. Turn the water back on and test your toilet. Now all that’s left is to turn on the water and test your toilet. If you’ve installed the the wax ring properly your toilet should fill and flush free of leaks. If you do happen to notice a leak, turn off the water to the toilet and double check that all the bolts and lines are secure. If you still can’t determine the location of your leak, it’s probably time to call in a professional.

If you’re looking for more ways to make your home both energy and water efficient, be sure to check out our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photos are courtesy of the Flickr Creative Commons (worn out wax ring).

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About the Author

graduated from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) with a degree in journalism and has made sustainability and eco-conscious living mainstays of both his professional and personal life. It was during his time at PLU that he began his journey with sustainability and it's what has led him to writing for Green Living Ideas. He currently resides in Honolulu and works for Pono Home, an energy efficiency company focused on reducing carbon emissions and promoting a healthier, greener lifestyle.

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