Change a Wax Seal

Don't let your bathroom turn into a water park.

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When would you ever change the wax seal on a toilet you ask? Well, have you noticed an embarrassingly stinky bathroom, or actually seen water coming from under your toilet stand? Yes. You’ve got a wax seal that needs some replacing, lady. This requires some heavy lifting. Recruit a friend with promises of a bonding experience, but don’t let her know you mean between the toilet and the floor. 

Wax Gasket
4 nuts, bolts, washers
A wrench
Putty Knife
A hacksaw
A dirty blanket/rag/something you can put a toilet on

Clean toilet—trust us, this is the first step. You two will be getting very close.

Wear low-riding jeans for maximum crack exposure, a must for every plumber.

Turn your water off! Locate the shutoff valve – usually behind toilet or on wall – and tighten handle fully by turning in clockwise direction.

Expel the water from your toilet. Remove the tank lid at the top of the toilet. Flush, and hold down handle to ensure maximum drainage from tank. Get a small scoop or a sponge to soak up the excess water. If need be, use a plunger to get out the remaining water from the bowl.

Now down to business.


Step One

With the wrench, disconnect the water supply line.  A couple ounces of water will drizzle out – be ready with an old rag. 


Step Two

Pry caps from the closet bolts and then use a wrench to remove the nuts. The closet bolts are those four little nubs that are on the bottom of your toilet base. If you can’t get the caps off, use a putty knife, or something thin, and pry upwards. If the bolts are slipping as you turn the nut, hold the bolt in place with needlenose pliers. If the bolts are proving ornery, and will not come out, take a hacksaw to them. (This is fun, but wear protective eyegear.)


Step Three

Hunker down, grab the bowl below the seat hinges (this is why cleaning is recommended) and begin rocking back and forth to break the wax seal between the toilet and ground. Lift toilet off the floor, and lay it down on a blanket.


Step Four

Pick up thin putty knife and scrape off old wax from bottom of toilet and from flange in floor. (Now’s a good time to check if the real reason your toilet was leaking is a faulty flange. The flange is the large piece of metal that sits in the floor and serves as a lip for the water pipe. If it is indeed cracked, you can repair it with a repair strap purchased at any hardware store. Unscrew the bolts of the flange, insert the strap, and replace bolts.)



Step Five

Insert bolts onto flange.


Step Six

Take your new wax gasket and set it on the flange. Though many wax gaskets are simply a wax ring, DAME suggests purchasing one that has a little plastic or foam on the bottom in order to ensure a secure, snug fit. 


Step Seven

Next, grab the toilet again, as described in step three, and place it onto the newly placed wax gasket. Use the bolts as your guide. Always use the bolts. May the bolts be with you.


Step Eight

Slip washers and nuts over the bolts. Do not tighten just yet. SIT on your toilet and wiggle. Or stand and put pressure on the rim. Just anything to weigh down the commode and compress it to the wax ring. Tighten bolts a little. Sit on toilet. Tighten bolts some more, sit on toilet again. Continue in this fashion until the nuts do not feel loose when you press down on the toilet. Use hacksaw to cut bolts to height of nuts. Snap on your old bolt caps.


Step Nine

Tighten loose end of water-supply tube to the shutoff valve. 


Step Ten

Open valve and flush toilet several times, while checking for leaks. If leak does occur, repeat tightening/sitting action from step seven. 


Step Eleven

Maintenance: In a couple of weeks, repeat tightening/sitting technique, as it takes some time for a toilet to settle.

Beyond this, smile. You just fixed a toilet!

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