You may not think about your toilet that much. Why should you? As long as it’s working and doing what it’s meant to be doing, then there really isn’t a lot to think about. When your toilet starts to go wrong, however, then there is a lot to think about. This is where your plumbing skills may come in handy, no matter how basic they may happen to be, and you may have to consider investing in some replacement parts for your toilet.
Take the wax ring, for example. The wax ring sits beneath your toilet and they are meant to last for many years, but time and toilet flushing wait for no man (or woman) and eventually that wax ring is going to fail. Sometimes it happens sooner than others, but either way, it needs to be fixed.
What is the wax ring?
The wax ring is literally that; a ring of sticky wax. It helps to form a watertight seal between the sewer pipe and the bottom of the toilet. It shouldn’t really need any maintenance and, if you’re lucky, can last for 30 years or more. If you’ re not so lucky, the wax can dry out and fail, crumbling away, and that means it needs to be replaced. If you notice water leaking from under the base of your toilet it’s most likely that the wax ring has indeed failed, and this is especially true if the toilet is wobbly when you sit on it.
The good news is that wax rings for toilets are not expensive. As well as a new ring, you’ll need an adjustable wrench, a putty knife, paper towels, and a bucket. Then you can begin!
Drain It Down And Disconnect
To begin with, you need to drain the toilet down and disconnect it, so you’ll need to turn off the supply line that goes to the toilet. Hopefully there is a handy valve to help you do this more easily, and hopefully it will be smooth to move, but if it has been in one position for years it can be tough. Keep going though because you need to stop water from filling the cistern once it has been drained.
Once done, flush the toilet to remove as much water as possible. That won’t get rid of everything, so you’ll need to bail the rest out, or soak it up in towels. Alternatively, you can use a wet vac, but not everyone has one of those to hand… Once it’s all completely empty, disconnect the water supply line (put your bucket underneath to catch the last of the water).
Remove The Toilet
The next job is to remove the toilet from the old wax ring. It should be screwed to the ground, so you’ll need to undo the screws before it goes anywhere. Gently rock and twist the toilet to get it loose of the ring and set it to one side.
Remove The Wax Ring
You’ll need a lot of elbow grease for this next stage, but it needs to be done properly to ensure that the new ring sits right (and you don’t end up with a permanently wobbly toilet). Use your putty knife to scrape away the old wax ring from both the toilet itself and the pipe fitting that connects to it from the floor – please bear in mind that if this pipe (called a flange) seems to be damaged in any way you will need to call in a plumber to help you).
Install The New Wax Ring
Depending on what type of wax ring you have purchased, you may have one that is self-adhesive, but they aren’t all like this and it isn’t strictly necessary. You can choose where to put the ring – it either needs to be placed on the bottom of the toilet or on the entrance to the flange. There is no right or wrong here; do what is easiest for you. Once the wax ring is in place, it’s time to gently lower the toilet down, making sure that all the bolt holes line up as they are meant to.
Finally, sit down on the toilet (you might want to close the lid first). Your body weight will compress the wax ring and push the toilet into its rightful place. The toilet needs to be inline with the floor, so it could take a little while.
When it is all in place, reattach the water supply line and open the valve. Flush the toilet to both refill it and to check for leaks. Assuming there are none, you’re all done.