Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.

Wax Ring? Time to Replace?

FredoSP
FredoSP Member Posts: 69
edited July 24 in Plumbing
Hello Plumbing Experts,

Over the last couple of days I've been noticing this peanut butter color and the base of the toilet where it meets the tile floor. I've wiped it away and it seems to come back. I'm suspecting a wax ring that is failing but I'm not 100% sure. I do not notice any water leaking from around the base of the toilet bowl or any smell of sewage or anything like that.

I went as far to purchase blue food coloring and added it to the tank and bowl to see if the blue dye would appear at the base, but it didn't.

I'm leaning towards the wax ring. I think I can tackle this project myself because we have another toilet to use if I screw up :D

Here are three pictures I took. Does anyone have any ideas of what this could be?

Edit: I did NOT put the silicone at the base of the toilet. That was done during installation by a licensed plumber, probably 15 years ago if I had to guess.








Long Island, NY
«1

Comments

  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,116
    Sounds right. Best think is to turn off water, completely drain the tank. Then I'd use a small pump and drain the bowl. Then you can tip it without any water coming out of the trap.
    The only problem is if the leak rotted the wood, or the toilet flange is damaged.
    Don't over tighten the bolts.
    steve
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
  • FredoSP
    FredoSP Member Posts: 69
    Hi STEVE,

    Thank you for the reply. Luckily the floor of this bathroom is the ceiling of the attached garage. I took my hand last night and I checked to see if the ceiling of the garage was dry and it was. I understand that I'm still not 100% home free because it depends if the leak got to the sub-floor of the bathroom. I hope the beautiful 1955 pink tile was put as close to the cast iron flange as possible to protect the sub-floor but that remains to be seen.

    I guess I won't really know until I pull the toilet. I'm willing to bet the old cast flange is more than likely the old lead and oakum.

    I'm not sure what size wax to get but I'm pretty sure its the standard size that they sell at the big box stores. I will report back when and if I decide to do this myself.
    Long Island, NY
  • There are three sizes of wax rings I keep in stock:
    4" x 3" no-seep for 3" pipe
    4" no-seep for 4" pipe
    4" regular

    No-seep is a trade name and I use it to denote a wax ring with a plastic horn which is an extension of the wax that extends into the pipe. A regular wax ring is without the horn, just plain wax.

    If the toilet flange is properly installed, it will be sitting on top of the finished floor and I only use a no-seep. However, not all flanges are mounted correctly. If the flange is level with the finished floor or just below, I use the no-seep and then on top of the no-seep, I add a regular wax rings to make sure the toilet seals properly. You can also find extra thick wax rings to use instead of the combination.

    Sometimes you run across a toilet flange that is an inch or more below the finished floor and they sell toilet flange extension kits to raise the flange.

    Whichever one you use, you should feel the wax rings squishing down as you set the toilet.

    Use good quality, all-brass closet bots and double nut them so they stay secure.


    Often wrong, never in doubt.
    STEVEusaPAZman
  • FredoSP
    FredoSP Member Posts: 69
    Alan, Thank you for the response and wax suggestions.

    Do you agree with STEVEusaPA that it's probably the wax ring that has failed?

    Thanks!
    Long Island, NY
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,545
    Back pressure from a "slow" drain line can push the wax out.
    But you would usually notice some other fixture draining slowly or hear gurgling in a floor drain or shower.

    I have a rental that would have leaky waxes every 2 years or so.
    The plumber had cut a floor joist nearly away so the floor had some sag and bounce to it. A post now reinforces the joist and I used the flexible/sponge gasket on that WC. So far so good.

    I did have a square front Eljer WC from the 90's that actually had a leaky factory installed plug of silicone caulk underneath. They had to put a hole in the bottom of the trap for whatever reason and sealed with caulk. I wonder what they did 50-60 years ago if they needed a "process" opening?
    I re-plugged it once and in a few years it leaked....new WC.
    BTW, I would not go back to a round front bowl again. Elongated is definitely more comfortable.

    I also drilled thru the wood floor so the drip would show up in the basement and not soak the wood.
    I sealed all the ceramic tile edges to keep any water from getting to the sub floor in all the baths. Also caulked all perimeters before installing base trim of rooms that had plumbing in.
  • FredoSP
    FredoSP Member Posts: 69
    edited July 25
    JUGHNE, no unusual noises that I can hear. Also, no structural changes have been made to the home, 1955 original.

    I haven't checked but could loose carriage bolt nuts cause this? I mean from all the people that have probably sat, rocked or whatever they do on the bowl over the years could make it loose?

    I also included a picture of what it looks like from underneath the bathroom in the garage. The left most 90 is the cast iron waste for the toilet. In the middle that's hard to see is the vent pipe (I think) and the right most is the shower drain. It looks like they all tie into the one vertical stack (right).

    The bottom middle gray pipe is the air intake for the vent.

    Don't ask me why my grandfather painted the cast iron, maybe to protect it?




    Long Island, NY
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,230
    Hi @FredoSP , A question, is there any wiggle at all to the toilet? Also, you might want to pull the toilet, then have a look at things to see what other parts you may need, and then make your hardware run. Two trips to the store for one job is no fun. :#

    Yours, Larry
  • FredoSP
    FredoSP Member Posts: 69
    Hi Larry,

    I just checked the toilet and it felt pretty secure to me.

    I just noticed something that is very promising. I think my food coloring trick worked because when I went to check the toilet for a wiggle, I noticed some of the blue food coloring at the base of the bowl with the nasty brown slime. I'm 99.999% at this time the wax has failed. Here's a picture I just took, it looks a lot more bluer in person because the lighting isn't that good in the bathroom.


    Long Island, NY
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,714
    The interesting part will be once you pull the toilet. Hopefully, you will just need a bolt kit and a wax ring. With old cast iron pipes, I would expect to have to deal with flange issues. Post pictures once the toilet is off.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,823
    It's the wax ring leaking, not the wax itself oozing out (unless it's over 100°, I suppose). I use the Korky brand foam ring—never had any trouble after I switched to those.

    NB: IANAP.

    PC7060
  • FredoSP
    FredoSP Member Posts: 69
    Thanks everyone.

    Just a brief update. Looks like the food coloring did exactly what I hoped it would. This morning I looked and the blue color is more pronounced then yesterday. I'll try and get a new wax ring in a day or so. I'll take pictures of what the cast flange looks like when I pull the toilet. Thank god we have two bathrooms in the house.


    Long Island, NY
  • Looks like you have almost zero slope on that 4" horizontal waste line. I wonder why they didn't install the lo-heel 90 an inch or two lower? Just shows you how forgiving drains can be.
    Often wrong, never in doubt.
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,667
    I like discussions about pro & con of horns. Horn seems to be fool proof but others point out that gravity drain should never narrow anywhere.
  • FredoSP
    FredoSP Member Posts: 69
    edited July 26
    Hi Alan,

    I have no idea why they did what did that. I do agree that waste line looks very horizontal with minimal slope, but it's been like that since 1955 and it's worked. I am the second owner of he home. First were my grandparents who were the original owners. I still have the original survey from 1954 and pictures of the home being built. Maybe because the water pressure for potable water inside the house is 80 psi and that gives the solid waste the push it needs? :D
    Long Island, NY
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,230
    Hi, Maybe while the toilet is up, it would be a good time to snake the drain with a large diameter cutting head or some other way of breaking off any serious rust that has formed. That rust could be slowing flow enough to contribute to the problem of a leaky wax ring that you see.

    Yours, Larry
  • Maybe because the water pressure for potable water inside the house is 80 psi and that gives the solid waste the push it needs?
    Who am I to say that can't be so. :o

    I would have been cautious to install a water-saving toilet because of the flat drain, but it looks as though that's a new toilet, maybe a water-saving one at that and it's been doing fine.................until now.
    Often wrong, never in doubt.
    Zman
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 1,327
    edited July 26
    Think--Pee! But it wouldn't hurt to replace the wax ring. I hate pulling a toilet and finding pee under it, which I have to clean, gad! I always seal the base of my toilet installations.

    Needless to say, men shoot everywhere and women are more directional.
  • FredoSP
    FredoSP Member Posts: 69
    edited July 28
    Hi All,

    Been busy with work and haven't had time to address this. I did call a local plumber just to get a price in case I needed him to bail me out. I was speechless when he said "I usually get $XXX.XX plus tax to change a wax." :o:o:o

    Maybe I'm out of touch with things but WOW, gotta love NY prices!

    EDIT: I removed the crazy high price I got, thanks for the heads up ethicalpaul.
    Long Island, NY
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,084
    edited July 28
    Oops, posting job prices is against the forum policy. Please edit out the dollar value :)

    While I'm here I'll ask: above was mentioned sealing around toilets...this seems like a good way to hide a leaking seal for much longer than you'd want to. Maybe silicone sealant but leave some "weep" spaces for leaks to appear?
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    Alan (California Radiant) ForbesErin Holohan HaskellPC7060
  • FredoSP
    FredoSP Member Posts: 69
    Some guys silicone around the toilet but do not put any at the rear or the toilet, so if there is a leak, it will show in the rear. I believe in some areas it's code to silicone around the base of the toilet. Mine was done by a licensed plumber so I assumed it's code for my area.
    Long Island, NY
    ethicalpaulrick in Alaska
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,084
    I will withhold my thoughts about licensed plumbers doing work to code in a given area :)
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    Larry Weingartenrick in AlaskaPC7060
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,667
    No numbers but figure out traveling time and how much one needs to gross to have sufficient net to live in many cities.
    ethicalpaul
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,441
    The caulk also helps support the toilet evenly and keep it from rocking if the floor or the base of the toilet or both are uneven.
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,667
    mattmia2 said:

    The caulk also helps support the toilet evenly and keep it from rocking if the floor or the base of the toilet or both are uneven.

    So is silicone a bad choice? Firmer caulk like urethane?
  • Shane_2
    Shane_2 Member Posts: 143
    edited July 29
    Be prepared for a little more than a wax seal.
    From the pictures, I can see you have a lead bend. Sometimes the brass ring at the floor is secured to the floor. Many times it is not. Be careful that the lead is bent over or well sealed to the brass ring. Make sure the brass ring which the johnny bolts go through is mounted to the floor and on top of the finished floor.

    Sometimes is is necessary to replace the lead bend. Take some more pictures for us after you pull the toilet.
    ethicalpaul
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,084
    edited July 29
    mattmia2 said:

    The caulk also helps support the toilet evenly and keep it from rocking if the floor or the base of the toilet or both are uneven.

    That's what the shims are for, right? This made me think of the meme below


    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    delta T
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,545
    edited July 29
    What I have found out here (never plumbing codes enforced) are old houses with 4" CI pipe and a lead riser poked thru the floor a short inch and the lead hammered over right down to the floor boards.
    Then the WC was lag bolted to the floor. (rusted away BTW)

    One gets into carpenter work replacing flooring.
    But there is a PVC flange with rubber donut that inserts into the 4" lead, so life had gotten better in that respect.

    You might have a CI floor flange leaded into place, often too low for the tile floor.
    There are PVC spacers you can caulk and stack on top of the old flange to get the right height.

    As I type all this it reminds me why I don't reset WC's anymore. ;)

    And what I described will cost $XXX.00 then.
  • FredoSP
    FredoSP Member Posts: 69
    Hi All,

    I plan on pulling the toilet on Tuesday. I will post pictures on what I find.
    To Be Continued ....
    Long Island, NY
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,084
    edited August 2
    I wish you luck. My last one wasn't too bad even though it had a lead bend that was deteriorating with no real flange at all. I picked a spot downstream where the lead was very thick and solid and cut the bend at that point, making sure there was enough room to attach a 4"x3" EPDM/Rubber coupling on there. Then I put a 3" PVC elbow on it. I had a length of 3" pvc on the downstream side of the elbow to insert into the rubber coupling so that the waste would be carried past the lead-to-rubber joint and not get hung up there.

    I have no idea if that is a accepted practice, or if I just invented it :lol: but so far so good.

    Then it was easy to add a new flange to the elbow.

    Originally, my plan was to chisel out all the lead and go back to the cast iron with a Fernco "donut" adapter, but once I got in there, I was too afraid of cracking the cast iron and the lead was very very thick and strong right there at the junction with the cast iron so I called an audible.




    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,792
    @ethicalpaul I believe you should've used a shielded coupler.

    Overall, I think the objective is to keep the poop in the pipe and avoid getting clogs. I assume you did that.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    ethicalpaul
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,714
    The best way to do it is to remove the lead and slide in one of these. https://www.lowes.com/pd/Fernco-4-in-x-4-in-x-3-50-in-dia-Flexible-Donut-PVC-Fitting/1000075393
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,545
    I would remove the lead by drilling it out with a long 1/4" bit.
    After enough holes drilled the lead would come out in a ring.
    Then did out the oakum.
    I used a heavy 3/16 or 1/4" rod sharpened and bent on the end, even fashioned a handle on the other end for removing the lead pieces and oakum.

    This may have been a little tedious for the situation for Paul's repair.

    Works great in the basement on the last Hub if you are redoing the entire house DWV.
    ethicalpaul
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,441
    You can also lead in pvc as long as you wait for it to cool before you do the final caulking.
    ethicalpauldelta T
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,328
    Leaded joints, Manoff with oakum and lead wool, reducing push gaskets, reducing mission couplings, and reducing Fernco couplings are all approved methods for this type of installation and repair.
    Deep seal, double deep seal, horned wax gaskets, and a combination of these are a great way to finish a toilet installation.
    If you double up on the wax gaskets, be careful not to have some wax get in the way of the path of the drain. It can cause a lot of problems.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,441
    what is the difference between a fernco and mission hubless coupling?
    ronbugg
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,792
    mattmia2 said:

    what is the difference between a fernco and mission hubless coupling?

    I think when guys say Fernco they mean just a rubber coupling and when they say Mission they mean a shielded (banded) coupling.

    I think.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,328
    ChrisJ said:

    mattmia2 said:

    what is the difference between a fernco and mission hubless coupling?

    I think when guys say Fernco they mean just a rubber coupling and when they say Mission they mean a shielded (banded) coupling.

    I think.
    That is correct. It's the terminology.
  • FredoSP
    FredoSP Member Posts: 69
    Hi All,

    I just realized that I never gave a follow up.

    Upon getting ready to remove the toilet, I double checked the nuts and they were extremely loose. I thought that they were checked prior to the food coloring, but I guess not. I snugged them up again and did another food dye test and I didn't see anything. I used that toilet multiple times over a span of two weeks and made sure the floor was dry every time.

    I'm confident it was just loose nuts and added a new bead of silicone.

    I don't know the tolerances involved here, but is it possible for it to be a simple as loose nuts that get backed off from using the toilet over time that can cause it to leak? Maybe that little bit caused the wax ring not to seat 100% in the front where I noticed the food coloring?

    I'll take this one as a win (for now). I will keep everyone's suggestions in the event I have to revisit this.
    Long Island, NY
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,084
    Why a bead of silicone? To hide the leak from you better in the future? :)
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,441
    Once the toilet has been rocking around in the wax it is really time to replace it, it is one time use. If the nuts are tight enough and the floor is solid enough the nuts should be putting more tension on the bolts than usage does. When the tension from using the toilet exceeds the tension from the nut, that is when the fasteners back off. That could be caused by not tightening them enough or by an uneven floor or loose flange that lets the toilet move.
    ethicalpaul