Toilet Leaks or Sweats

Water that repeatedly collects on the floor beneath a toilet or around its base can indicate some type of leak or may be caused by condensation from a toilet that sweats. For more about condensation, see Toilet Sweats, at bottom.toilet-leak-at-base-web

Toilet Leaks

If water is dripping down onto the floor, you can usually identify the source by mopping up any wetness, spreading out a dry newspaper under the toilet, and watching for wet spots. Use a flashlight to check the fittings directly above the wet spots for drips. In some cases, all you need to do is tighten a fitting slightly.

If that doesn’t do the job, you may need to replace the rubber washers or seals at the connection points. Be sure to check the water supply tube both at the valve and where it attaches to the tank—this is a common source of leaks.

Toilet leaks can come from a few different problems, including cracks in the porcelain, leaking seals, or a defective wax ring that seals the bottom of the toilet to the waste pipe. For information about leaks that are inside the toilet (typically from the tank to the bowl), please see How to Repair a Running Toilet.

toilet-anchor-bolt-webIf water seeps out from under the toilet’s base, either the toilet needs to be tightened down to the floor or—more likely—the wax ring that seals the connection between the toilet’s base and the waste pipe (closet flange) needs to be replaced. If the toilet feels loose against the floor, pry the plastic caps off of the anchor bolts, and slightly tighten the nuts that hold the toilet down.ha_creative1

Note: Be careful not to over-tighten because this can crack the porcelain base! If the toilet doesn’t feel loose, remove the toilet and replace the wax ring, as discussed in How to Replace a Toilet’s Wax Ring.

Before you pull the toilet to replace the wax ring, check for cracks in the tank and bowl. If either the toilet tank or bowl are cracked, you will need to replace the toilet. For information on how to do this, see How to Install a Toilet.

Toilet Sweats

If water drips or pools around the base of your toilet, may be leaking or—if you live in a warm, humid climate—dripping condensation (called sweating). In humid climates, warm room air may condense on a toilet’s cold porcelain surfaces and drip onto the floor. This should be dealt with because the moisture encourages mold and, over time, can rot the subflooring.

Unlike other fixtures and furnishings in a house, a toilet doesn’t have a chance to warm up to room temperature because it is continually refilled with cold water. The warm, moisture-laden air in a bathroom reaches the toilet’s cold surfaces and condenses there.

The most common way to deal with a sweating toilet is to insulate the toilet tank with a foam liner. Sold at online and at home improvement centers, tank liners are glued to the toilet tank’s inner surfaces.

toilet anti sweat valveTo install a tank liner, first turn off the water supply valve at the wall and flush the toilet to empty the tank. Use a towel or rag to dry the tank’s inner walls. Cut and attach the insulation panels according to the manufacturer’s directions.

For a surer and more permanent solution, you can have a tempering or “anti-sweat” valve installed on the cold water line that supplies the toilet. This special device mixes a little hot water from a hot water pipe with the cold water supply that goes to the toilet.