Wax ring question

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by LBrandt, Feb 9, 2007.

  1. LBrandt

    LBrandt New Member

    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Hello,
    I’m new to this forum, so this is my first post. I’m trying to help a neighbor who has a leak at the base of his toilet. His American Standard toilet is about thirty years old, but there are no cracks, etc. Other than the slight leak at the base, everything in it works fine.
    Some time ago, I replaced the wax ring at the base of one of my toilets, and I was completely successful in stopping its leak. I also recently installed a new toilet in my other bathroom, and of course, I installed a new wax ring for that toilet at that time. For both of my own wax ring jobs, I used NO plumber’s putty, and NO caulk at the base of the bowl, and everything works perfectly.
    But, after I replaced the wax ring on my neighbor‘s toilet, the leak continued. I must add that my neighbor bought the wax ring almost two years ago, so it had been sitting unused for two years. I know that the leak is at the base of the bowl and nowhere else.

    So my questions are:
    Did I make a mistake in not using plumber’s putty and/or caulk around the base? Is this a recommended procedure that I failed to follow?
    Could the wax ring, being two years old, have lost its ability to function properly?

    I intend to try the repair again, but I first want to make sure that I have the advice of the members of this forum.
    Thanks,
    Louis
  2. Using a wax ring was perfectly fine. If you used a horned ring THAT might be the reason it is leaking.

    Also, the neighbor could of plunged the toilet and not make you aware of the situation. This can blow a wax ring out if the clog is beyond the trapway of the toilet.

    Post pictures when you pull the toilet; the condition of the wax ring tells the story; if you used a horned ring then it most likely will pull up with the toilet.

    Getting the visual on how far that ring compressed if it went too far will tell you what caused the leak.
  3. LBrandt

    LBrandt New Member

    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Hello again,
    Thanks for the reply. First, the toilet isn't clogged. It flushes fine. Second, I don't know what a "horned" ring is. Can you explain? The wax ring that I used has a black plastic inner ring that sits inside the wax circle. Is there more than one type of wax ring?
    Louis

  4. When I stated the clog issue, I'm talking "at one time" since the install but I reread your post so you stated it's been leaking from the go.....dictating improper install.


    You pretty much explained what a horned ring is; pull the toilet and use a regular wax ring, those horned assemblies are notorious for causing leaks if not properly installed because they divide the thickness of the wax to begin with.

    I use those mostly on "questionable" lead bends where the brass flange has visible deterioration between the lead and brass. I shim them up well if the flange is setting too high.
  5. LBrandt

    LBrandt New Member

    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Hello again,
    So are you saying that if the wax ring has a black plastic tapered piece in the center of the ring, that it's a "horn" type? Every wax ring that I've ever used looks just like this one. I didn't realize that there was more than one type. And my other question concerned the use of plumber's putty or caulk. Should I consider using either of these around the base of the bowl when I install a new ring, or should this not be necessary?
    Louis
  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,387
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    That black plastic is the horn. What you want is just a donut of wax. Plumbers putty is used for setting sink drains, not toilets. Some codes require caulking around the front and sides of the toilet, leaving the back open so that if/when there is a leak it will not be trapped under the toilet unseen. Personally, if I have a good level floor so the toilet sets perfectly flat all the way around, I leave it alone.

  7. Yes

    Nothing wrong with that if has been working for you

    There isn't

    Shouldn't be necessary, the wax ring is designed to do it all

    Caulk is for sanitary reasons for spillover and cleaning ease
  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,270
    Location:
    New England
    Check whether there is any movement of the toilet. If it rocks even a small amount, you will break the wax seal and it can leak.
  9. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Do you know how long it has been leaking? I would wonder whether there might be a hairline crack that has developed somewhere and is not easily visible. If you think that might be a possibility, set the toilet up on some blocks at each end (front and back) and fill the bowl until just a little water comes out at the bottom, then dry the bottom well and let it set for a few hours to see whether anything anywhere gets wet.
  10. LBrandt

    LBrandt New Member

    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Hello again,
    According to my neighbor, it has been leaking for several weeks, and of course as I indicated, it still leaks after I replaced the wax ring. I'm going to replace it again, but this time I'll try to follow everyone's suggestions, and hopefully, it won't leak again. I did "rock" the bowl back and forth a bit as I was trying to seat it, so that may have caused the ring to break. I'll be more careful this time.
    Louis
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,270
    Location:
    New England
    That isn't the best technique! My comment, though, was about the toilet being able to rock once PROPERLY installed. When setting the toilet, set it down as straight as you can, then push straight down. Use the bolts, turned a little bit on each side, keeping the toilet level to help get it down to the floor if you can't press it down easily yourself.

    If it does rock once down, you'll need to shim the toilet. Doing this after the fact doesn't help, you must do it so thatwhen you install it the first time, it sits stable on the floor.
  12. LBrandt

    LBrandt New Member

    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Hello again,
    Thanks for the reply, but now I'm a little confused. What would I shim it with?
    Louis
  13. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    That is why I would take the time to block it up and look for any kind of seepage. A 30-year-old toilet that had been fine for a long time had to have some reason or circumstance to begin leaking.
  14. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    If the toilet leaks all the time, then you have a different issue. If it only leaks when you flush it, it is probably the wax ring that is not sealed properly. Does the leak go away if no one flushes the toilet for a long time? This is very important in diagnosing the problem.

    Assuming it's the wax ring, your choice of a flanged (horned) ring is just fine. Did you feel the wax squishing down when you first seated the base of the toilet? If not, you may need to use a thicker wax ring or two wax rings. If the wax does squish down, but the toilet rocks, you will need to shim the base of the toilet. I prefer standard wood shims that you can break off once you've successfully shimmed it. Then use caulk around the base but only after you've determined it is no longer leaking or else you will not see the leak until you've ruined your floor or the ceiling underneath.
    Good luck!
  15. LBrandt

    LBrandt New Member

    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Hello again,
    Since it's my neighbor's toilet, I can't be absolutely certain whether it leaks all of the time or only when it's flushed, but my guess is that it leaks only when it's flushed. I don't want to get into shimming it, since it's sitting on linoleum on top of concrete. I will try it again, this time with a thicker wax ring.
    Louis
  16. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    Pull the toilet and clean the wax from the bottom of the toilet and closet flange.

    Now sit the toilet on the flange and if it wobbles or rocks, then you WILL have to shim. I prefer to shim with a wedge of some sort and use grout. Grout will set up like cement and provide a completely solid shim, and it looks good too.
  17. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,056
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    leak

    Even though you say there is no other leak, you are describing a leak between the tank and bowl when the toilet is flushed, and/or a leak from the tank bolts all the time. Check the back of the toilet bowl when you flush to be VERY sure water is not running down the back and then onto the floor. If that is not the problem, the bowl could have developed a crack. The horned wax rings can cause a problem, but usually only after a number of years when they have developed a gap between the bowl and the ring. You would have to have done a very poor job of installing the ring for it to be the problem this soon.
  18. Racer814

    Racer814 New Member

    Messages:
    124
    if it's not sitting level...you better shim it or it's just gonna wobble loose....I don't caulk toilets that are on a wood floor but if it's sitting on concrete there's no problem in caulking it after you determine it's not leaking...concrete ain't gonna rot out on you and it will help keep the toilet base stable....

    like hj said...make sure it's coming out from underneath and not running down from the tank in back...
  19. LBrandt

    LBrandt New Member

    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Hello again,
    The leak that I (and my neighbor) see is one that seems to be on all sides of the bowl itself, not the tank. When we place a thin piece of cardboard or paper underneath the edge of the bowl and pull it back out, the sheet is wet.
    Louis
  20. Peevee

    Peevee New Member

    Messages:
    44
    The next time you replace the wax ring, get one that doesn't have the black plastic cone. The horn type doesn't have a thick enough wax seal for most applications.

    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 16, 2008
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