New toilet installation leaks around wax ring

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by ChrisTyrrell, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. ChrisTyrrell

    ChrisTyrrell New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Hi all.

    I just finished installing a new Kohler toilet on top of a new PVC flange using a FluidMaster No-Seep No.3 wax ring. The flange rests on a square piece of plywood of the same thickness as the floor tile. After flushing, I noticed from the basement that water leaked and dripped.

    Back upstairs, I see that the grout around the back of the toilet base is wet, none of the fittings are leaking, and the tank bolts are leak free.

    Ok, back down the stairs, I see that the water is NOT on the underside of the flange or the running down the soil tube to the closet bend. Instead, it has apparently escaped through or around the wax ring, over the flange and the back of the square of wood to which the flange is attached, then found its way past the tile to the subfloor, where it found a seam and dripped down a floor joist.

    This indicates that the flange, soil tube, and adapter are OK (see an earlier question posted by me), so unless the toilet itself is cracked, there must be a problem with the wax ring.

    I think if the toilet were cracked, it'd be leaking right now, not just when it is flushed.

    So...back to the wax ring. How can this thing leak? This particular ring, a FluidMaster NoSeep No. 3, has a little black funnel built into it, which would seem to guarantee that the water is going to go where it should. I it put on, set the stool in place, and sat on it to settle everthing into place. The stool rocks ever so slightly, but I attribute that to my amateur tile installation, not my amateur plumbing.

    So what next? Obviously, I need to remove the toilet and reinstall with a new wax ring. Should I use a different type of ring? What can I do to prevent this from happening again? I saw somewhere else on the net the recommendation that strips of something (latex?) be attached to the bottom of the stool around the perimeter as shims, because of the rocking and sliding that can occur on tile floors. Sounds good. Is it latex? Should I expect to find such a product at Home Depot/Lowe's? Or what would you do?


    Thanks folks!
    Chris
    Des Moines
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,156
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Any toilet that rocks could leak at the wax gasket.
    I would pick up some shims and new wax.
    Set the toilet on the flange without the wax first.
    This way you can determine if it's the horn on the wax that is preventing the toilet from dropping down onto the floor, or if it's a crooked floor.
    If the flange is high, you may not be able to use the horned waxes.
    I prefer to shim at the back, pinning the front of the bowl down.
    Caulking goes from bolt to bolt, around the front.
    No caulking in the back. If the wax seal leaks, you want to know before the floor damage happens. :)
  3. ChrisTyrrell

    ChrisTyrrell New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Addendum: It's still dripping. Crack in the trap?

    After having wiped water from the floor joist earlier, I see that it's still dripping, so I have to wonder if maybe the toilet is cracked in the trap. Considering the items we've had to return due to defects over the course of this remodel, I guess I can't discount the possibility.

    So, I'll try what you've suggested Terry (Thanks!), and I'll thoroughly inspect the toilet. The water level in the bowl seems unchanged, but of course I can't see the trap so I can only guess what's happening there.


    Thanks again!
    Chris
  4. Deb

    Deb Plumber

    Messages:
    200
    Location:
    Idaho
    Deb

    A toilet with a cracked trap will generally ONLY leak when flushed.
    Also, most people are not aware that you cannot move a toilet in the slightest once it is set on the wax without taking a great risk of breaking the seal.
    Always flush the toilet numerous times before caulking or grouting to check for leaks and leave a space at the back to keep the water from being trapped under the toilet and rotting out the floor.
    I am a little leary of your description of how you determined that the flange and drainage pipe are okay and what exactly is the adapter you speak of here?
    [​IMG]
    It appears that the flange is installed at the correct height. I would also recommend that yu use a wax with no horn or a Fluidmaster waxless gasket if the toilet is not sitting flat on the floor (it should however, even with a horned wax ring).
    Water can continue to drip for quite a while. The floor is most likely fairly wet and it will continue to drip out until any pooled water is gone.
    Deb
    The Pipewench
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2005
  5. LonnythePlumber

    LonnythePlumber Plumber, Contractor, Attorney

    Messages:
    319
    Location:
    Wichita, Kansas
    Tank to Bowl

    Sounds like the tank to bowl connection to me.
  6. ChrisTyrrell

    ChrisTyrrell New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Still no luck.

    I've tried again, this time with a plain wax ring, and discovered hours later that there's a tiny leak somewhere around the back. A tissue was set on floor with one edge wedged under the edge of the toilet to wick out any water and make a leak visible.

    This is especially baffling to me, because the spout on the bottom of the toilet is lower than the top of the flange when the toilet is in place. How could such an arrangement leak, even if there were no wax ring to seal it?

    Deb, to answer your question, the adapter I mentioned is actually a Fernco coupler which attaches the 3" PVC on the flange to the older 3" pipe which is seated in the closet bend. The old flange was attached to a lead tube which was soldered to this old pipe in the closet bend. Please see my post titled "Replacing a lead soil tube" from 9-22 for more details.

    Lonny, would you please elaborate on your comment that it sounds like a problem with the tank to bowl connection? If I understand what you mean, I would expect to see a drip from the bottom of the tank, or at least a trickle running down the side of the toilet from the tank.

    I'm just about to the point where I call in a pro, but first, I thought I'd try using small bead of plumber's putty around the toilet spout. After all, the thing sits down inside the flange. I have to think that maybe the act of compressing a wax ring actually forces some of the wax to obstruct the toilet's spout, thus giving the water a way out. I don't know how else to explain the leak. Any thoughts on this?


    Thanks to all,
    Chris
  7. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Try setting the bowl in place without a wax. Does the toilet sit firmly on the floor, with no rocking, no part of it held up off the floor? If not, it means the sealing surface on the bottom is touching the flange (which is too high) and all the wax squeezes out. This can leak, even though the horn itself is down into the drain a little.
  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,183
    Location:
    New England
    If the toilet rocks AT ALL after it is installed, it will eventually leak - if not water, then sewer gas. The wax is not springy, it will get squished out and not rebound. If it rocks, you will need to use some wedges to keep it solid and be careful as you seat it.
  9. LonnythePlumber

    LonnythePlumber Plumber, Contractor, Attorney

    Messages:
    319
    Location:
    Wichita, Kansas
    Tank to Bowl

    I only mean to check the tank to bowl connection good. Use toilet paper there. It isn't always a noticeable drip.
  10. ChrisTyrrell

    ChrisTyrrell New Member

    Messages:
    7
    It turned out to be a defective bowl

    After 5 wax rings, I found a Fernco no-wax doohickie. Why the most critical waste connection would be so primitive I don't know, but this no-wax connection is the way to go. Anyway, since there's no opportunity for a leak with this type of connection, I took a closer look and found two problems.

    First, on the underside toward the front, there's what appears to be a plug that is installed and glazed over during the manufacturing process. However, the plug on this bowl wasn't glazed well, leaving a small spot where water could escape, which would explain one location of water on the floor.

    Second, if you stick your fingers up into the waste hole on the bowl, you should feel glaze everywhere, but that wasn't the case with this bowl. Since the unglazed ceramic is porous, water was able to seep through, which would explain the second water spot on the floor.

    I returned the bowl to Home Depot, where they exchanged it and reimbursed me for the wax rings and the no-wax gadget still attached to the defective bowl. I even convinced them to reimburse me for the ring my wife picked up at Lowe's, arguing that I wouldn't have needed it had the bowl not been defective.

    I thought Kohler was one of the top names in their field, yet both the tank and bowl were defective. The initial tank had a large strip of missing glaze on the front of the tank, and upon returning it, my wife went through three boxes before finding one that was unbroken and unflawed. When I was picking out my replacement bowl, I rejected the first box I opened due to more poor glazing. Maybe Kohler recently changed some process, or moved manufacturing to Mexico. Whatever the case, I'll not be buying Kohler again.

    Thanks to all for your help along the way.


    Chris
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2004
  11. LonnythePlumber

    LonnythePlumber Plumber, Contractor, Attorney

    Messages:
    319
    Location:
    Wichita, Kansas
    Box Store Toilets

    Some feel that the toilets from the box stores are not first run. Whether they are or not certainly there are a lot of taking toilets back to these stores. Kohler and American Standard have had some challenges in developing a reliable design for the low flush toilets. I won't install either one.
  12. Deb

    Deb Plumber

    Messages:
    200
    Location:
    Idaho
    Deb

    I have never been a big fan of Kohler and I think that American Standard should have to change their name to Mexico Standard. I have noticed another drop in quality especially since they moved production out of this country and I will not install them either.
    Deb
    The Pipewench
  13. Montana

    Montana New Member

    Messages:
    1
    What brand(s) of toilets do you recommend?
  14. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,726
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Oboy! All together, now...

    Read this first, and see if you see a common name in all the recommendations:

    Terry Love's Consumer Report on toilets
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2006
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