Leaky Toilet Tribulations

Wax Ring Replacement

 If you’re like me and not really a handyman, you dread situations like this.  Situations in your home where things start breaking, getting damaged and worn down as they always do over time.  I start going through the thought process in my head of, "how am I going to deal with this situation."  And the first thing I end up doing is procrastinating.  I’m really good at that.  Maybe the spot will disappear on is own.  I mean, it showed up on its own.

I waited months.  I took pictures of the ceiling spot so I could compare images over time; seeing if the problem was growing worse.  One day, I even climbed up on the counter to touch the spot so I could see if the spot was wet.  It was!  That means that water is probably still leaking up there.  I was still hoping the problem would heal itself and go away so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.  It didn’t. 01-CeilingStain
Turns out that the spot on the ceiling in the kitchen is right below the toilet in the master bathroom.

Ok, I have a source of water located.  Now what is the problem?  My first thought was that a tiny leak in the drain PVC was causing water to slowly drip on the drywall below every time the toilet was flushed.  If this was the problem, I started to think, "how the heck am I going to get a drain pipe fixed that is in the ceiling."  They’ll have to tear the whole ceiling down and do all sorts of shennanigins to fix that bad boy. And on top if it, it will cost me a fortune and be a huge inconvenience.

But a my friend John, who is a lot more handy around the house than I, told me that its not really likely that the PVC drain pipe cracked.  The more likely issue is that the wax ring below the toilet may be worn and needs replacing.  Wax Ring?  What the sam hell is that?  I’ve never heard of or seen a wax ring, and if I had, it wouldn’t have dawned on me that it was a part of a toilet.  Anyway, a quick YouTube search pointed me to some videos on how to replace a wax ring.  I watched some of these and it looked relatively easy to fix this, if it was the problem.
So, I decided to remove the toilet and see if the wax ring was indeed damaged.  I couldn’t tell if there was any damage to the ring, but the area around the Water Closet drain seemed slightly damp. I removed the wax ring because once you pull up the toilet, it pulls up some of the wax too.

So, now I have to go to the local big box hardware store and buy a new wax ring.  When I get there, there are all kinds of rings…what now?  Well, I bought three of them, figuring I would return the ones I didn’t need.  One was like the one I removed from the toilet, the second was taller and thicker in case the drain pipe was lower, and the third had a metal reinforcing ring around it in case of building movement.  I guess this kind is best used in office buildings.03-WaxRing

The first wax ring I tried was the ring similar to the one I was replacing.  I put it down in the drain and gently pushed.  It didn’t feel like there was any contact.  I lifted the toilet up again, and didn’t see any smushing of the wax.  I then lifted up the ring and put down wax ring number 2.  This was a thicker and taller ring.  I put the toilet on top and felt is smash down.  It felt as if there was much more contact, thus sealing the gap between the toilet and the drain pipe.

I tightened the screws to secure the toilet and now I just had to hope that I solved my leaking toilet problem.  Weeks later, no further water damage as far as I could tell.  With the toilet repaired, I next needed to figure out how to repair the ceiling in the kitchen below.  The water damage left that ugly brown spot and I don’t think just painting over it would be sufficient.

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