View Full Version : wax ring repair failure

02-27-2009, 07:52 PM
I just finished pulling, replacing wax ring w/ horn, leveling toilet and now the leak is on the opposite side.

I did three things that may be suspect:
1) I didn't scrub the toilet and flange clean enough to eat off of,
2) set the wax ring on the flange instead of on the toilet (I was very careful in setting the toilet in place)
3) but not so careful that I didn't have to move it 1/4" minus to one side to center it ... the leak is on the side I move toward.

Or maybe there is something else I need to look for?

I could not tell after pulling the toilet why it had leaked ... the worst I saw was a lot of corrosion around the top of the cast iron pipe and ... never having seen a metal flange before was surprised to see the pipe broken off (jagged edge) and the flange set over it with twp screws securing it. The ragged edge of the pipe did not look right to me (?)

02-27-2009, 08:05 PM
First off, get a wax ring without the horn...they are more trouble than they are worth. If you moved the toilet any way but straight down after compressing the wax ring, you probably created the leak...wax doesn't have any spring to it, and it won't bounce back. All you really need to do with the old wax is scrape it off...no need to make it like new.

A picture would help to see what the flange looks like. If the flange is sturdy and can't move around, and will hold the closet bolts, it should be okay. If the flange is too low (should be on top of the finished floor and be anchored through it - no space beneath it; i.e., flat on the floor), you may want to use flange extenders or reset the flange to where it is supposed to be. If it is too high, you may never get a good seal.

Gary Swart
02-27-2009, 08:08 PM
Installing a toilet is not brain surgery. Certainly you want to clean off the old wax and tidy things up, but you don't have to sterilize everything. Your problem is almost certainly the wax ring with the plastic horn. Those things are sucker bait. The novice would assume that the horn would be better than just the wax, but is just isn't so. Get a new "Plain-Jane" wax ring and reinstall the toilet. Sure, use reasonable care in setting the toilet down square onto the ring. It might help if you put a nut on each flange bolt to hold the bolts upright and in the right position while you lower the toilet, but even that isn't really necessary. Once the toilet is down on the ring, use your body weight to mash it into the ring. Once the skirt of the toilet is in contact with the floor, that's it. Then just snug the bolts on the flange bolts, not torqued. The flange bolts just hold the toilet from moving, they aren't intended to pull the toilet down into the wax ring.

Gary Swart
02-27-2009, 08:10 PM
Dang Jim! You must type faster than me:D But, I guess we told him anyway!:p

02-28-2009, 05:41 AM
Can you explain why the horn is a bad idea?

The ring I removed had a horn.

Would the horn be trapping waste around the top contributing to corrosion around the top or is this a typical spot for wear on cast iron?

02-28-2009, 07:46 AM
The horn contributes to the problem but may not necessarily be the cause of the leak. The horn can cause backsplash which will leak, IF there is already a failure in the seal.

02-28-2009, 11:45 AM
Also, if you get the thing slightly off-center, or twist it, you can cause the horn to collapse and partially close off the opening...they are a waste of time and money...they make people feel better, but they fail more often than just a simple wax ring, both have to be properly installed. If you have an inside mount on a 3" pipe (not recommended), it might not even fit properly.

02-28-2009, 03:12 PM
I went back to the hardware store and got a wax ring without horn and in looking at the wax ring with horn I can see how the funnel would restrict water flow and the plastic itself might collapse contributing to a failure.

So I get ready to pull the toilet for a second time to put in the wax ring without horn .. but seeing as how I have in the past fixed things that "aren't broken," and my experience with old plumbing tends to suggest ghosts in the pipes ... I flush the toilet to see that it is still leaking ... and no leak. I flush it two more times ... still no repeat of the leak.

I should say here that before I started grouting the base of the toilet at the floor I flushed the toilet to make sure the seal held and there was not leak. After cleaning up I flushed it again and found a leak coming form the opposite side.

Ghosts in the pipes? Now it is not leaking. I have two holes in the down stairs ceiling that allow me to see leaks so this isn't imagined.

02-28-2009, 05:09 PM
Well I was cleaning up the papers I had on the floor to register drips under the tank and the stop cock and though they were dry on top the bottom was wet.

The toilet was still leaking but decided from yesterday to today to stop dripping to the basement and start running onto the bathroom floor (!!!).

I pulled the toilet and inspected the wax ring and it does not look to be the horn. It does look to be the plastic grip washers supplied with the new lug nuts that compromised the seal at the flange AND was compounded by my shifting the toilet that 1/4" and the flange being off center 1/4".

NOW ...
Does the wax ring need to compress more than 1/8" to seal? I finger tightened the flange bolts and it only took a few turns to snug them down after compressing the wax ring.