How to Replace a Toilet Wax Ring

Generally speaking, fixing common toilet problems is an easy task, although some adjustment might be required. This is particularly true when dealing with ballcock or float cup fill valves.

The first thing to check when the bathroom toilet (or water closet) develops a side to side rocking motion is the set of bolts that hold it down to the floor. The nuts should be snug but not overly tight; the porcelain or vitreous china may crack. If you have problems with the broken toilet flange or toilet fill valve check out these articles.

Prepare to Repair the Toilet

The first thing to do is turn off the water supply. There will be a small shut-off valve at the wall that supplies the toilet with fresh water via a flexible water supply line. Turn the valve all the way clockwise.

Set out some cardboard in the bathtub or on the floor. This is to set the commode components on, both to protect them and to keep from scratching or breaking anything.

Flush the toilet; this will get rid of almost all the water in the holding tank. Remove the tank cover and set it aside. Use a sponge to remove any water left in the bottom. Next, disconnect the supply line where it connects to the bottom of the fill valve at the base of the tank.

Disassemble and Remove the Commode

Inside at the bottom of the tank, there will be two or three bolts that connect the tank to the bowl. Remove these with a large screwdriver and a pair of channel lock pliers. Carefully lift off the tank and set it on the cardboard.

There is a foam or rubber gasket between the tank and the bowl. Keep this to take to the home improvement store. It will be necessary to replace this and there are several sizes available. Discard the bolts; these will also be replaced.

Remove the decorative nut covers and the nuts from the bolts that hold the toilet to the flange on the floor. Lift the bowl off and set it on the cardboard. Be prepared for some very foul smelling sewer vapors. This is not a pretty smell. A few squirts of air freshener wouldn’t hurt just now.

Get all of the old wax rings off the flange and floor.

Reassembling the Toilet Components

There two types of toilet wax rings, both inexpensive. The older type is simply that, a wax ring. The improved type incorporates a vinyl or plastic support (sometimes called a horn). For a bit more cash, this is a great investment.

Make sure the base of the toilet bowl is clean. Press the wax ring on the base. The horn will fit into the floor flange. Run a bead of plumber’s putty along the edge of the bowl base where it will contact the floor.

If the flange bolts are in bad shape, replace them. Carefully set the bowl on the floor. It helps to have an assistant since this step is awkward, and visibility leaves something to be desired. Replace the nuts on the floor bolts and replace the decorative covers.

Put the new tank/bowl gasket on the bowl and set the tank on the bowl. Secure it with the new bolts. Finally, reconnect the water supply line, turn the water on and check for any leaks. Replace the tank cover and the plumbing repair is complete. If you need to replace the whole toilet you should read this article.