Should I have toilet replaced or just wax ring?

I have a toilet that came with the house from 1978 as far as I know. Tonight I found water all around the base of the toilet and after googling I suspect it’s the wax ring? Thoughts? Also, I’ve suspected the wax ring bc sometimes I slightly smell sewer and it’s all I can come up with. So if I call a plumber should I just have him replace the wax ring or should I also have a new toilet put in? What would be smarter/more economical? Also, if I do have a new toilet put in how does that work? Do I go to Lowe’s or does he? Thanks in advance for your answers! 

3 Answers

  • 4 weeks ago
    Favourite answer

    Water could be coming from the plumbing connection to your tank, or leaking out of the tank itself.  You should eliminate those possibilities by wrapping toilet paper around the tubing that supplies water to the toilet.  Wrap it around the shutoff valve, around the connection between the valve and the hose or tube that goes up to the tank, and around the connection at the bottom of the tank, too.  If any of the paper comes away wet, repeat the test.  Paper coming away wet the second time shows where your leak is.

    As for the tank, if it is leaking, it will be around the bolts that fasten the tank to the portion of the toilet that you sit on.  Dab toilet paper around the heads of those bolts, which are on the underside of the sit-upon portion of the toilet, beneath the tank.  If they come away dry, then the tank is not your problem.

    If neither of those suspects is guilty of leaking, then it's the wax ring.  That would be consistent with your sense that there's a sewer-y smell.  The thing is, wax rings don't go bad.  Either they are damaged when the toilet is first set upon them, or they work pretty much forever.  UNLESS the toilet is not firmly affixed to the the drain flange.  If your toilet rocks, or moves even a tiny bit when you sit on in, it hasn't been properly installed - and that can lead to a leak around the wax.

    If you don't detect a leak at the tank or the water supply, your toilet is still good.  If you're happy with the way it flushes and how it looks, there's no reason to replace it.  (Yes, its flapper and fill valve inside the tank will periodically have to be replaced, but that's no big deal.)  Keep the toilet.  Have it reset on a new ring (or one of the new, no-wax substitutes) - but make sure it is firmly bolted down this time and that shims and grout or caulk (preferably grout that matches your floor tile grout) have been used to ground it on the floor all around.

    If you want to replace the toilet, you can certainly let the plumber pick one for you, OR you can do some research and pick out your own - and then tell him/her where to buy it for you.  A very decent toilet can be had for $150 or thereabouts.

  • Snezzy
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    Look at the future. Proper care of the wax ring is essential, but it's easy: Don't pour hot water down the toilet! Get it fixed (or do it yourself) and then stand guard when your pristine relative who just wants to help starts to pour out the hot water she used to clean your house. Especially don't put hot water down a clogged toilet!

  • 4 weeks ago

    A wax ring is a pretty inexpensive, maybe $3.00, or you can pay a little more for a wax-free seal, maybe $7-10, where as toilets run the gambit on price from $70 or so all the way up to several hundred dollars or even thousands for the fancy ones , you can let him pick one out, if you give him a budget, he might even have a store he gets a discount through. I would hope you could get away with just the seal if there are no other issues with the toilet, like slow filling or constantly running, or any anything like that. Your big worry here is that there could very easily be water damage to your bathroom floor from the leaky seal. That will get expensive fast. He's going to have to be very careful when he takes the toilet up. A 40+ year old toilet is going to have some issues with rusty bolts, and the porcelain could easily crack/break if the bolts are seized into place. If anything breaks on it, you'll be getting a new toilet regardless, so it would be good to have some idea of the one you want. Hope this helps. Fingers crossed the floor doesn't need repaired.

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