How to Replace Wax Ring on Toilet – A Simple 6 Step Plumbing Tutorial

By Mengning Heil

November 19, 2021

Toilet Plumbing Tips

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Have you noticed that you have a toilet leaking from the bottom? Don’t panic! There are a few ways to figure out where the leak is coming from. And, in the process, you may discover that you need to learn how to replace a wax ring on a toilet. It might sound intimidating but don’t worry, we’ll walk you through the process step-by-step!

Toilet Leaking From the Bottom

Before you dive straight into replacing the wax ring, you’ll want to check the tank, bowl gasket (where the tank meets the bowl), and bolts on the tank. These things are potential causes of your toilet leaking from the bottom, so ruling these out first is helpful. When checking for the leak, dry up any moisture with a towel and try to visually locate the source of the water. Shining a flashlight on each of these areas and feeling around with dry hands for any sign of wetness will help you to detect if these areas are the source of your water leakage.

The second thing you should check before replacing the wax ring is the supply tube. The supply tube is a common cause of leaks that can result in water on the floor. Shine your flashlight where the main shutoff valve is, located behind your toilet. There you will find a flexible tube that runs from that valve to the tank at the back of your toilet. Again, run a dry hand along this tube to see if there is any water leaking.

Once these two possible issues are ruled out as the cause of your leak, you have essentially determined that you need to learn how to replace a wax ring on a toilet.

The purpose of the wax ring is to form a water-tight seal where the toilet meets the drain line, preventing leaks like the one you may be experiencing. And it looks just like you think it would: waxy yellow in color and shaped like a ring or a donut. Because of its location, however, you won’t be able to see it or fix it, unless you disconnect your toilet.

How to Replace Wax Ring on Toilet

Step 1: The very first step to replacing the wax ring on your toilet is to turn off the water. The shutoff valve is located behind the toilet; turn the knob clockwise until tight. Next, remove the lid to the tank and flush, holding down the handle. The goal is to drain as much water out of the toilet as possible. You will then need to remove any remaining water. Sucking the water out with a shop vacuum is the easiest method, or alternately you could use a sponge and a bucket. Thirdly, disconnect the water supply line from the bottom of the tank using pliers and have something ready to catch any water that may still be in the line.

Step 2: Now, locate the two plastic caps, which are on either side of the bowl near the ground. Pop off these plastic caps with a flathead screwdriver exposing the bolts. These nuts and bolts are what secure the toilet to the flange underneath it. Using an adjustable wrench, unscrew the nuts. If there happens to be a lot of corrosion on them, we recommend spraying with WD-40 to loosen them.

Step 3: Once the bolts are off, gently rock the toilet back and forth to break the seal. You are now ready to remove the toilet! Place a towel on the ground and, being careful to distribute its weight evenly, lift the toilet placing it on the towel.

how to replace wax ring on toilet

Step 4: Here’s where you will need a little elbow grease. Using a narrow putty knife, thoroughly scrape off the existing wax that is on the flange (aka the pipe fitting in the floor). Then lay the toilet down on its side and, again using the putty knife, completely remove the wax from the underside of the toilet. Be sure to clean and dry the flange completely before installing the new ring.

Step 5: Once the wax is cleaned off, inspect the flange to ensure it is not cracked or warped. If it is in good condition you can take this opportunity to remove the old bolts and install new ones. If the flange is cracked or damaged, it is best to call a professional.

If the flange is in good condition, you can move forward with replacing the wax ring. Note here: if this is your first time (or even second) replacing a wax ring, do not guess at the type of wax ring you’ll need. The reality is that there are 4 main types of wax rings and the right one will depend heavily on where the flange sits in relation to your finished floor. So, if you are wondering “what type of wax ring should I use” make sure to do some research first or ask a professional. Ok. Once the bolts are installed you can simply place the new wax seal on top of the flange, and reinstall the toilet.

how to replace a wax ring on your toilet

Reinstalling A Toilet

Step 6: To reinstall the toilet you will once again carefully lift the toilet and line up the holes on the base with the bolts coming up from the flange. It may be helpful to have a second person guiding you as you do this. Once it is lined up, gently set the toilet down while pushing with your body weight to create that desired water-tight seal. Using a level can sometimes be helpful here. Replace the washers and nuts on both sides of the toilet, gradually tightening each side a little at a time to ensure it goes on evenly. Then replace the plastic caps that go over the bolts.

Reconnect the water supply line and turn the water back on by twisting the knob counterclockwise. Once the tank has filled up, flush the toilet to confirm that it is no longer leaking.

Are you looking for an expert plumber in Ellicott City, MD or the surrounding areas? Heil Plumbing offers a range of reliable plumbing services, including sewer line repair in Baltimore County and hydro jetting in Baltimore and Howard County.

Heil Plumbing is a family-run company owned by a third-generation master plumber. We can help you with a full range of plumbing services, including sewer line repair, leak detection and pipe repair, faucet repair and installation, drain cleaning, and water heater repair in Baltimore County and the surrounding areas.