Toilet leaking on ceiling underneath - waxless product

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mookie3333

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Good day all,
I discovered a moldy corner on the wall/ceiling of my first floor bathroom. I broke out the sheetrock, and noticed that when the toilet directly above was flushed, I'd get 15-20 drops of water down that wall.

I pulled up the toilet, remembering that I'd installed a SaniSeal (green) waxless ring on that toilet about 5 years ago. That's a Toto Drake on an old lead/brass flange. When I removed the seal, I found it soaking with water, and I thought that was the problem.

I replaced with an extra thick wax ring, reseated the toilet, and bolted it down. Now, 2-3 days later, I notice water still dripping from the same location upon flushing. I have to hope that I didn't do something correctly, or the wax ring was too thick and didn't compress properly (maybe it was too cold?). Because the other alternative is that maybe there's something wrong with the lead bend, or the hub where it meets the CI stack (all in the same location of where the leak is coming from).

It's a bummer to have to go back into the tenant's place to pull up the toilet yet, again. In retrospect, I should have measured the tolerances (flange to top of surface), depth of horn, etc. to ensure a thick wax ring was the right thing to use - maybe it was too thick? I'm planning to go back in with a fluidmaster waxless ring (blue funnel), or even the saniseal again. If I could get another 5 years out of it until the tenant moves, that's all that I need, until i can mess with it again properly.

In any case, what's the likelihood of something being wrong with the lead bend/stack? This is a 110 year old house. Bend looks solid to me, but this time I'll thoroughly inspect for cracks etc (up to where I can see).
 

mookie3333

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Forgot to mention that Amazon reviews show many complaints of the saniseal failing over time, and deflating, getting saturated with water etc. I still see it being recommended here, what are your guys' thoughts on the saniseal?? Did they change anything to rectify the failing problem?
 

wjcandee

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Generally-speaking, the wax ring or saniseal isn't there to provide a waterproof seal as its primary purpose; it's there to prevent sewer gas from coming into the room, the same way that a trap under the sink or shower does. As you know, there's no trap under a toilet, the trap is inside the toilet, so you need to seal against gas leaking when you hook up the toilet. Yes, the sani-seal or wax ring protects against some splashing, perhaps, but that's not its primary function, and I daresay it's not likely the source of your problem here. In theory, water comes out of the 2"-ish hole in your toilet and goes straight into the center of your 3-or-4" flange and down the drain -- without ever touching the seal. In most installations, if I were to install a toilet without a wax ring, the floor around the toilet should remain basically dry after 100 flushes (although of course one would never do this because you would gag on the sewer gas and there would likely be a bit of splashing, but you get the point).

If there is a clog down the pipe and the water is backing up in the pipe, then that could be a reason that your sani-seal was wet and/or your wax ring may have failed. I recently replaced a toilet where I had used a saniseal years before. It was spongy but completely-dry and could have been re-used, but I had already bought a new one. It was dry because the drain pipe was good and clear.

First thing I would do is check that there isn't a clog in your drain pipe such that it backs up a bit. Alternatively, I would check the integrity of the drain piping as you suggest.

Hope this helps; let us know how it works out!
 
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Sarg

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The Fernco seals look like a good idea if the piping is solid.
 

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Reach4

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The Fernco seals look like a good idea if the piping is solid.
Those are said to not be good to use on a used toilet. It depends on the glue holding. I have no relevant experience.

mookie3333: I think that with the toilet off, it would be interesting to put a garden hose into the closet flange. Can it take the flow (which is a very minor flow compared to what a toilet produces)?

Is there a plunger? A plunger can clear a clogged toilet, but if a toilet itself gets clogged as much as every two person-years, the toilet would best be replaced, unless there is an unusual user.

If the clog is below the toilet, plunging can blow the wax seal out. It can force water past a waxless seal.
 
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mookie3333

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Generally-speaking, the wax ring or saniseal isn't there to provide a waterproof seal as its primary purpose; it's there to prevent sewer gas from coming into the room, the same way that a trap under the sink or shower does. As you know, there's no trap under a toilet, the trap is inside the toilet, so you need to seal against gas leaking when you hook up the toilet. Yes, the sani-seal or wax ring protects against some splashing, perhaps, but that's not its primary function, and I daresay it's not likely the source of your problem here. In theory, water comes out of the 2"-ish hole in your toilet and goes straight into the center of your 3-or-4" flange and down the drain -- without ever touching the seal. In most installations, if I were to install a toilet without a wax ring, the floor around the toilet should remain basically dry after 100 flushes (although of course one would never do this because you would gag on the sewer gas and there would likely be a bit of splashing, but you get the point).

If there is a clog down the pipe and the water is backing up in the pipe, then that could be a reason that your sani-seal was wet and/or your wax ring may have failed. I recently replaced a toilet where I had used a saniseal years before. It was spongy but completely-dry and could have been re-used, but I had already bought a new one. It was dry because the drain pipe was good and clear.

First thing I would do is check that there isn't a clog in your drain pipe such that it backs up a bit. Alternatively, I would check the integrity of the drain piping as you suggest.

Hope this helps; let us know how it works out!


Well, turns out you were 100% correct. Toilet wasn't the problem, but there was a hole about the size of a golf ball in the 110 year old lead bend. I had a plumber come in and take care of it, even he had a tough time. he had initially intended to seal it with a two part epoxy, but he had trouble even seeing the hole, it was in such a bad spot. Turns out the hole was too big to patch. He cut off the lead bend and put on a reducing no-hub onto the brass, and 3" PVC to a new flange. What a job - mess everywhere in the bathroom below, due to falling concrete chunks, stones, wood, plaster, etc. To top it off, the space was VERY tight because of a beam in the way, clearances to other pipes, etc. All in all, toilet was reseated on new PVC flange and all is well now, no leaks. THis put the tenants out of a working bathroom for 9 hours.
 

wjcandee

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Thank you for the detailed follow-up. Otherwise, I always end up wondering how things worked out for the person with the issue. And it is useful and helpful to add that information to our collective experience.

Sorry you had to pay for a professional to come in, but from your description, it sounds like he earned his money! I'm glad we were able to help a teeny bit!
 
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