Perhaps you notice a puddle of water near the base of your toilet, and it seems to get bigger as you drain the tub. Or, maybe, you stroll into your bathroom only to step into a pool of water. Either way, a leaking toilet is a problem that requires attention sooner rather than later.
While you could wrap a thick towel around the base of the toilet and hope for the best, the problem won’t magically go away (unfortunately). So, here are a few things to know about the potential culprits causing the leaky toilet.
Can A Clogged Toilet Cause A Pipe To Leak?
You might notice your toilet clogs without any apparent reason, so you’re frequently seeking the assistance of the plunger. If this is the case, the drain line might be clogged, preventing flushed water from effortlessly exiting your home.
A clogged toilet drain line can lead to a leaking toilet, and if left long enough, it could cause leaks in the pipe as pressure builds. It’s a chain reaction – the problem builds and multiplies until it becomes something you cannot ignore.
In some cases, you might be able to reach the clog with an auger or plumbing snake and clear the drain yourself. However, in other cases, the clog might be too severe, requiring the assistance of a professional plumber.
What Causes A Toilet To Leak From Underneath?
A toilet that leaks from the base usually has one of five problems: the drain line is clogged, the wax ring failed, the toilet bowl is cracked, the flange or bolts are loose, or there’s a leaking water supply line. The result? Water leaks from around the base of the toilet, creating a puddle on your bathroom floor.
Failed Wax Ring
Toilets have a component called a wax ring, which is made of wax, as the name implies. Wax is easy to mold into the right shape for the toilet to prevent water from seeping out of the base of the toilet. While it’s convenient and easy to work with, wax is also very delicate.
So, after a while, the wax ring might become loose or damaged, preventing it from doing its job. When this happens, you’ll likely notice water pooling around the toilet’s base. To fix this, you’ll need to replace the wax ring around the base of the toilet.
If you’re an avid DIYer, you shouldn’t have any issues completing the project yourself. However, if you’re unfamiliar with this type of project, you can always pass the problem to a professional. You can expect to pay about $240 on average, although this might fluctuate based on how long the plumber takes to finish the task.
Cracked Toilet Bowl
Despite their porcelain composition, toilet bowls are surprisingly sturdy. However, every now and again, they can become damaged and break or crack. Many times, accidents can happen and cause hairline cracks along the surface. In some cases, the cracks might extend deeper into the material, leading to leaks around the base of the toilet.
To fix this problem, you’ll either need to replace the bowl itself or replace the entire unit altogether. Replacing only the toilet bowl usually costs around $70 to $100 for the bowl itself. If you have a professional replace the bowl, expect to pay between $50 and $150 an hour in labor.
Or, if you decide to replace the entire toilet, expect to pay $220 to $530. Replacing the toilet might be your better option, especially if you have an outdated toilet (often blue, green, or pink), as these toilets consume excessive amounts of water.
Loose Flange or Flange Bolts
At the base of your toilet, there’s a floor flange secured with a few bolts. The floor flange serves an essential purpose: securing the toilet to the floor. If your toilet is rocking or seems loose, the flange bolts might be loose, allowing the toilet to spring a leak.
Tightening these bolts is easy: all you’ll need is a good pair of pliers or a crescent wrench. Simply remove the caps from the flange bolts, then tighten the bolts by turning them clockwise. Don’t force them overly tight. Instead, tighten them until they’re snug.
If you can’t tighten the bolts, you might need to add some oil to offer movement. Corrosion can fix them in place, so add a bit of WD40 to the bolts and let it soak for a few minutes before trying again. However, if they don’t tighten or spin loosely, they might be broken and require replacement.
To replace a flange, you should expect to pay around $145 to $165. If you live in more urban areas of the United States, you might end up paying upwards of $600 for the replacement.
Leaking Water Supply Line
A leaky water supply line can create all sorts of issues – it can drive your water bill through the roof, lead to water damage, and create an inconvenient slip-and-slide on your bathroom floor. Since you probably don’t want to receive an impromptu chiropractic appointment at the hands of gravity and your bathtub cracking your back as you slip and fall, it’s best to fix this sooner rather than later.
In many cases, the fix is as simple as tightening the hose. Perhaps you recently finished a plumbing project and forgot to tighten the supply lines, allowing water to escape at the connection points.
To fix this, simply turn the water off at the valve by twisting the shut-off valve. It might be on the wall or extend up from the floor. Use a wrench to gently tighten the nut where the supply line connects to the valve and the nut on the toilet. Don’t overtighten the nuts – tighten them until they’re snug.
After you tighten them, turn the water back on and dry the area thoroughly. Flush the toilet and watch for leaks. If the leak persists, you might need to replace the supply line. This is easy enough to do – buy a replacement supply line from your local hardware store, turn off the water to the toilet, and switch out the supply lines.