How to Fix a Toilet Leak at the Base

Updated February 21, 2017

Toilets are simple structures. Two pieces, the tank and bowl, connect to the ground through two bolts. The retaining bolts are held in place with a toilet flange anchored to the ground. The seal between the toilet and the flange is accomplished through a wax ring pressed between the two. Loose retaining bolts that allow the toilet to wiggle in place as well as age cause the wax ring to fail, causing leakage out of the base of the toilet. Repair requires replacing the wax ring.

Turn off the water feeding the device and drain the toilet by flushing it until the water is emptied from the bowl.

Remove the nuts on each side of the toilet base with an open-faced wrench. Lift the toilet straight up and set it on its side.

Scrape off all the wax ring material from the base of the toilet and the toilet flange with a hand-held scraper. Press a new wax ring onto the base of the toilet with the rubber portion of the wax ring pointing away from the toilet.

Lift the toilet up and lower it carefully onto the retaining bolts. Press the toilet down until the edges of the base rest on the floor, spreading out the wax ring. Attach the nuts and tighten them down with the wrench until the toilet does not wiggle.


There will be water left in the toilet. Lay it down on old towels to avoid creating a mess.

Things You'll Need

  • Open-faced wrench
  • Scraper
  • Wax ring
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