Tag Archives: home repair

Fridays at Home: Fixing a Leaky Toilet

12th April 2013

Yes, I put “toilet” in the title of a post. Yes, I am ashamed. But let’s face it, the porcelain throne is (hopefully) part of your everyday life. And if you don’t have a John in your life to fix your john, well, your options are limited.

I could, of course, hire a plumber, but after looking at this great home repair calculator, I decided I’d prefer to keep that chunk of change in my bank account and attempt to fix the leak myself. The loo was leaking from the base and from one of the tank bolts. The below cartoon should give you an idea of how this went…


                                                                                                                                        By jennigens | View this Toon at ToonDoo | Create your own Toon

Yeah. So fixing a toilet isn’t difficult. It’s all the associated problems that can be tricky. I began by following these handy dandy instructions from Home Depot:

Easy peasy, right?
My house is on pretty high pier and beams, so ceramic tile is a no go. I had put down nice vinyl tile (I know it sounds bad, but it wasn’t!), and the leaky toilet had saturated the tiles around it, and I had to pull them up. No problem, except Lowe’s no longer carries that tile. And I couldn’t reseat the toilet without having flooring because a. I’d have to reseat it again to get the tile beneath the base and b. the height would have been off. So after buying all new vinyl tile, I was able to lay four strips before I had to make cuts. With a box cutter. I cut approximately two (2!) six-inch pieces of tile over about an hour before the angry tears came. It was not pretty.

I reseated the toilet, and the base didn’t leak, but now both tank bolts leaked, AND the water source coming up from the floor began to leak. Excellent. I called it a night and fell into bed.

Sunday I asked for help. And no, not divine assistance. I went to the pros of the privy and lay myself on their mercy. Another set of tank bolts, some silicone, a new valve and hose later, I was ready! Replaced everything, reseated the toilet again, and….drip, drip, drip drip

Confession time: I gave in, bought a bottle of wine, and called the plumber. But the plumber had to reschedule, so I got online and started Googling the heck out of toilet repair. Here’s what I learned, and here’s how I fixed it, start to finish:

  • Buy HydroCap Sure Seat Wax Ring cover, reinforced wax ring, tank bolts, silicone, valve and hose if necessary, adjustable wrench
  • Turn off the water valve at the wall or floor (all the way to the right)
  • Flush the toilet, holding the handle to allow as much water as possible to leave the tank
  • Use some old towels or sponges to get the rest of the water out of the tank
  • Remove the tank bolts
  • Remove the water hose from the tank
  • Put the tank somewhere safe
  • Mop up water in bowl
  • Remove base bolts
  • Remove the base and wipe the bottom of it clean
  • Remove old wax ring and wipe up old wax
  • Put plastic cap provided with HydroCap in hole to avoid fumes gathering
  • Put new wax seal down
  • Put HydroCap on tops, pressing firmly to get minimal gaps; make level
  • Remove plastic cap from pipe
  • Reseat base
  • Put nuts and caps back on base bolts
  • Place tank back on base
  • Add a ring of silicone to rubber gasket; put gasket closest to porcelain and insert bolt
  • Tighten metal washer and nut on base of toilet (be careful but don’t overly worry that you will crack the tank – I was paranoid!)
  • Allow silicone to cure for three hours
  • Reattach hose to tank
  • Turn water back on and check for leaks

If you must replace anything on the fittings coming from the water source:

  • Turn off water at street
  • Remove fittings and hose
  • Replace and hand tighten, then use wrench for good seal
  • Make sure valve is in the “off” position
  • Turn water on at street
  • Turn water on and test for leaks

Honestly, even with all the hassle, it was worth doing myself. I spent money, but it was nowhere near what I would have spent on a plumber. Plus, if you have a ceramic tile bathroom, you shouldn’t run into the issues I had. And that’s how it’s done, folks. My floor isn’t finished yet…but another day, another project.

Happy Friday!