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Replacing The Wax Ring On Your Toilet (Buy Two)

Removing and replacing the toilet sounds easy enough, but homeowners often have difficulty getting the wax ring properly seated. A bad seal is a disaster, so this part of the repair has to be right!

Toilets can be very heavy and difficult to maneuver. You won’t be able to see the soil pipe while you’re moving the toilet and may not know exactly where to put the toilet down. In short, it doesn’t take much to goof up the wax ring when you’re trying to reseat the stool. That being said, my great DIY tip for replacing the wax ring is “buy two.” If the flange bolts on your toilet were rusty or you had to cut them to get the toilet away from the floor, buy a new set when you buy the wax ring(s). (They’re standard and they’re inexpensive.)

The wax ring goes on the toilet. (Don’t try to seat the wax ring in the soil pipe and then set the toilet on top of it.) Press the wax ring in place with the neoprene funnel pointing toward you.

Put the new flange bolts in place. You’ll find slots in the flange where the bolt heads should slip in. Use the plastic “washers” that come with the bolts to hold them in place while you position the toilet.

The base of the toilet is heavy (50 pounds or more) and it helps to have a second person around to guide you while you position the toilet on top of the new bolts. If you don’t have a helper, use some kind of indicator on the floor to help you see the flange bolts. The indicators could be string, screwdrivers, chalk marks, pencils … just something to point the way. Line your markets up exactly where the flange bolts exit the flange, but far enough away from the flange to stay out of the way. If you’ve capped the soil pipe with a rag or other cover, remove it at this point.

Maneuver the toilet into place. Do not set the toilet down anywhere but on the flange bolts. The wax on the ring is exceptionally soft. If you set the toilet down for any reason or you miss your mark, you’ll goof up the wax ring and you’ll need to start over. (Remember: “buy two.”)

Once you have the toilet in place and on the flange bolts, carefully sit on the toilet. Your body weight will press the wax ring around the flange. Shift your weight carefully to ensure a good wax seal around the flange.

Tighten the nuts around the flange bolts slowly and carefully. Work on both sides of the toilet by tightening one nut gently on one side, then shifting to the other side to tighten the other nut a little bit. Alternate sides until the fixture is securely bolted to the floor on both sides. There’s no need for power here so take your time and tighten the nuts gently.

Flange bolts are much longer than they need to be. Use your hacksaw to cut off the unneeded length of the bolt. You may need to check the nuts after you’ve sawn through the bolts to verify that they’re still tight. Put the plastic bolt caps back on.

Reconnect the tank and the water supply, check for leaks and fill the tank. Flush the toilet and check again for leaks around the floor. If you have none, you’re done!

You can apply bathroom caulk around the base of the toilet, but don’t completely seal the base. Leave a little discreet opening somewhere. This will allow any leaking water to escape and reveal itself before significant damage occurs.