toilet base leak

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Old 09-06-15, 03:13 AM
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toilet base leak

Hello everyone. I am new to this site. As maintenance director in an assisted living facility, I am working in all fields of maintenance. With plumbing being my weak point, I'll be hanging around here most.
With that said, here is my first issue. I have two toilets in my facility with water "seeping" from the base. I can see the deteriorating, eroding, old caulk around the base. I'm going to scrape away the old caulk and replace it with grout. My question is, should I pull the toilet and replace the wax ring first, or just leave it and set it in the grout?
 
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Old 09-06-15, 03:24 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

Replace the wax seal! Grout and caulk are not intended to stop any leaks.
 
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Old 09-06-15, 04:49 AM
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It's rare but sometimes I get lucky & tightening the nuts solve the problem. If you have to replace the wax seal, there is a new type of seal that it made out of rubber.
 
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Old 09-06-15, 05:35 AM
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I'm nervous about tightening the bolts. I've pulled a few toilets up to replace the floors. Every flange on those toilets were plastic and broken. I reset them the best I could and set them in grout. More or less, using the two bolts as a guide, then bonding and sealing the toilet to the floor with the grout.
 
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Old 09-06-15, 05:54 AM
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You want the bolts nice and snug but you don't want to over tighten them!
I'm sure you know what will happen to the subfloor if you seal the base and don't fix the leak
 
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Old 09-06-15, 06:18 AM
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Test fit the toilet in place before putting in the new wax seal. The toilet must sit firmly on the floor and not rock or teeter at all; use shims if needed. The drain pipe flange must not touch any part of the underside of the toilet.
 
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Old 09-06-15, 07:51 AM
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I know what you mean. I'm in a four story building with 15 rooms on the 2nd,3rd & 4th floors. The building is 20 years old with a concrete floor between each floor. When I pull a toilet, I can see residue of standing water over the years. But, being on concrete, I'm not sweating it. All the toilets in this facility are either grouted or caulked at the base, depending on who did the job at the time. I have been here a little over a year.
 
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Old 09-06-15, 09:12 AM
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The grout acts more as a permanent continuous shim rather than a seal. The only place water is getting in is the wax seal, so that is the go to area first. Leaving water trapped in a concrete floor will eventually bleed through to the floor below causing ceiling damage.
 
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Old 09-06-15, 02:03 PM
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I'm an amateur and have fixed 3 toilet base leaks, here's my thoughts if you are not a pro at the job.

1. I've only used wax rings, if you go this route consider the thick wax ring for a buck or so more that the economy versions. I've never tried the non-wax devices so cannot comment on those.

2. Try and be as careful as possible when removing the toilet hold down bolts. They will almost certainly be rusted in place and will need to be hacksawed off. Try not to prise the bolt out as this will probably fracture the plastic plate that is bolted / glued to the floor and retains the toilet hold down bolts.

3. If the plastic plate is fractured, what I have done is epoxied the fracture and then bolted a metal repair flange onto the plastic plate. I like the metal flanges that are a small section of metal rather than the entire metal ring. I find the small metal flanges easier to position. Box stores should have them.

4. If you put a cloth or plastic bag over the drain opening after removing toilet, duct tape it to the floor so it can't get sucked into the drain.

5. Make sure the area is clean and all old grout / caulk removed prior to siting the toilet.

6. Absolutely do not tighten the hold down bolts too tight. Use your body weight to settle the toilet / new wax ring into position. Don't settle it in position by using a wrench on the hold down bolts.

7. I always leave it for a couple of days or so before re-caulking the base just to see if there are any leaks. Also I leave the back of the toilet un-caulked in case there is a leak in the future, hopefully I will see it.
Hope this helps and good luck.
 
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Old 09-06-15, 02:48 PM
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Thanks everyone for your advice, tips and tricks. Plumbing isn't my best field. I'm a carpenter by trade, comfortable doing electrical work, I'm HVAC certified. But, when it comes to plumbing, my confidence drops like a rock. I have some extra thick wax rings in my office. So, I'll be pulling the toilets and doing the job right.
 
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Old 09-06-15, 02:55 PM
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Toilets leak at the bottom when the wax seal is compromised... and they usually will rock and tip when sat on. This can be for various reasons. Sometimes the bolts and flange are corroded or broken. Sometimes the subfloor is bad. In each case, grout or caulk is not the answer, it will only allow the leak to continue rotting the subfloor beneath the toilet.

Only solution is to man up and pull the toilet. It's rarely difficult, and you only need to increase your confidence that this is something that's within your abilities. If you run into any difficulties, please snap some pictures of what you find and post back for additional help.

Biggest problem I find when doing this is that the problem has been ignored for so long that it becomes a larger job than you thought... replacing sections of subfloor, for example... when a new flange has nothing solid left to screw to. Which then means new vinyl or new tile, etc. Plumbing projects have a way of expanding. Murphy (of Murphy's Law) must have been a plumber.
 
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