How to Fix a Leaking Toilet Bowl

Introduction: How to Fix a Leaking Toilet Bowl

About: We love home improvement and enjoy sharing tips on YouTube and Home Repair Tutor. Everything we do is self taught. Over the last 12 years we've bought and rehabbed several rental homes in Pittsburgh. Sometim…

Is there anything worse than a leaking toilet bowl?


Unfortunately this has happened to us.

Let me say this…

…never EVER double up the wax ring.

Today’s tutorial shows you how to fix a leaking toilet bowl for less than $9.

I promise it’s easy and you won’t have to call a plumber.

Step 1: Identify the Genesis of the Leak

Let’s cut to the chase,

If your toilet bowl is leaking it’s due to

Wax ring failure

Closet flange problems

Or, a cracked bowl

All three are straight forward fixes…most of the time.

Here are the supplies you need

  • Oatey LiquiLock
  • Mini Hacksaw or
  • Oscillating Multi Tool
  • Wax Ring (without plastic horn)
  • Closet Flange
  • Closet Flange
  • Spacer Rings
  • Extra Long Closet Flange Bolts
  • 100% Silicone Sealant
  • Caulking Gun (optional)
  • Rag

Let's start with a brief explanation of the closet flange.

Why do you need your neck?

It supports your head.

The same goes for closet flanges, they support the toilet.

ALSO: the closet flange is where you put your wax ring.

If the closet flange is broken the wax ring won’t seal the toilet properly.

Without a good closet flange you’d have dirty toilet water on your nice floor.

Fortunately you’ve got several options when it comes to flanges

Step 2: Installing a New Waste Stack...Use This Closet Flange

This flange is specifically for new waste stacks.

Especially if the new stack is PVC.

They also make this type of closet flange for ABS pipes.

*NOTE: the metal flange isn't my favorite, it will rust over opt for one made from PVC or ABS...just my opinion

Step 3: Offset Closet Flanges

Consider an offset closet flange if your existing toilet needs to move closer or farther away from the wall.

Good option for older homes.

Step 4: Broken Cast Iron Flange Option

Cast iron flanges often crack or corrode.

Use a gasketed closet flange like this one to remedy your situation.

The tailpiece of this flange has a gasket which goes down into the cast iron waste stack.

Here in Pittsburgh we have a lot of older homes with cast iron, so this flange comes in handy.

Step 5: Metal Flange Repair

Is the metal flange broken?

This is a great solution and only a few bucks.

If your closet flange is cracked or broken you should fix it.

Knowing your options helps a ton…and that’s the big reason for my closet flange summary.

Do you know the age of your wax ring?

If you don’t it probably is the cause of a toilet bowl leak.

BUT: which type should you buy?

Step 6: What You Ought to Know About Wax Rings...Seriously, Read This

A few years back we replaced our hardwood floor.

The installer (yes, I paid a pro to do this) doubled up the wax ring.

He did this because the new hardwood was higher than the closet flange.

Six months later we had a nice toilet bowl leak.

Fortunately the toilet was on the first floor and dripped into the garage.

Could you imagine if this was a toilet above your kitchen.



The installer did a great job with the hardwood but shouldn’t have doubled the wax ring.

Instead, we should have added a closet flange spacer ring.

These rings come in 1/4″ and 1/2″ increments.

Step 7: How to Install a Closet Flange Spacers

Apply 100% silicone caulk to the clean closet flange and extender ring.

Place the ring on the closet flange and screw it to the finished floor or subfloor.

RULE of thumb: raise the height of the closet flange so it’s 1/4″ above the finished floor.

That way the wax ring won’t compress and create a gap between it and the toilet bowl.

Ideally the closet flange should be secured to top of the finished floor.

But sometimes this isn’t possible.

Especially if you aren’t moving the waste stack.

Step 8: Choose Your Wax Ring Wisely

When you choose your new wax ring get one that DOESN’T have a plastic horn

Instead, get a plain wax ring like this one

Step 9: Watch This Video for More Tips

Over the last 14 years of being a homeowner and landlord I’ve learn tons of tips.

My video shares several more… …for example,

how can you remove a toilet bowl without spilling one drop of water AND

what do you do if your closet flange nuts won’t budge?

DO you have to break the toilet bowl?

Check out my video for these tips — the first 10 seconds are meant to make you laugh

Step 10: Now Your Turn

Toilet bowls can be the bane of our existence.

But we’re lucky to have them…better than the alternative …which is a tree in the woods

That said, ask your questions down in the comments.

I’d be happy to help.

So ask away.

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    7 years ago

    Very high marks and a very sincere thank you for this tutorial tip. I'm extatic to have read this today becasue it will help me undo my mistake from yesterday. My folks who are aged to the point that they can no longer do alot around the house like they have proudly accomplished in their earlier years, have relied on me and my experiences as a homeowner for repairs. They had bamboo flooring installed last year throughout the home including the bathroom. When they noticed the seems between the planks around the toilet changing color, they asked me to look into it. Sure enough, my moisture meter read between 45-60% moisture. I removed the toilet and there it was! The cause was a leak due to doubled up wax rings. I have no knowledge of doubled up wax rings as an acceptable or proper installation for toilets so I replaced them the exact same way thinking they probably weren't sealed together correctly. Now, after my, "ah s**t" reaction, I'm off to undo and redo correctly the wax rings to avoid the same problem in the future and/or damaging the flooring to the point of having to be replaced. Thanks again and I look forward to reading of your tips and gaining more from your knowledge.


    Reply 7 years ago

    Those "ah s**t" moments are always fun, let me know if you have any questions. I'd be happy to help. Good job checking the moisture with a moisture meter, that's a great tip for anyone.


    7 years ago

    Wow! I'm keeping this one! Excellent!