View Full Version : leak/landlord issues
01-17-2006, 12:27 PM
Some months ago, the toilet in my apartment started to leak. The landlord (or building manager, actually) called someone, and he supposedly fixed it. However, despite the fact that the toilet is obviously built for four closet bolts, he only put in the rear two. Within a week the toilet started rocking when I sat on it, a fraction of an inch to a full inch, I'm not exactly sure. Shortly after this water started appearing around the base of the toilet. The guy now refuses to fix any of this. He says that modern toilets only use two bolts. He says the water is just condensation from the tank.
Well, I am sure that there is a lot of condensation from the tank. I am quite sure this is at least contributing to the water around the base. But as far as I understand, when the toilet rocks back and forth, even a little, that means that the wax ring has lost its seal and needs replacing. Right? Additionally, when I rock the toilet, I can hear a squelching sound, which as far as I can figure means water between the bowl and ring, right?
Unfortunately, my building manager is just taking what this guy (I don't even know if he's actually a plumber, he just seems to be a friend of hers) for granted. Can anyone point me to some authoritative resource that I can show her that merely installing two closet bolts on a toilet built for four is not adequate to hold it in place, and that whether or not modern toilets are built for only two is irrelevant here?
01-17-2006, 01:47 PM
If a toilet has two bolts, then two bolts is all that it needs.
If it has four bolts, then in needs all four bolts.
If a toilet rocks or moves at all, it will break the wax ring seal, which is exactly what has happened with this incompetent "plumbing" job.
01-17-2006, 01:48 PM
A landlord is required to maintain the plumbing. If he won't do it, then contact you local health department. I'm pretty sure they will bring enough pressure on the landloard to bring in to line. I'm guess here, but perhaps the toilet connection is very old and obsolete and must be replaced to fit a modern flange.
01-17-2006, 06:16 PM
If it rocks, then it also needs to be shimed and grouted so it can't rock.
The two bolts should do it, but I always thought it nice to put closet screws in the front two holes.........
The four bolt toilets go back to the fifties, and even then we "dummied" the front ones.
01-18-2006, 10:28 AM
Unfortunately, as I live in what might be described as a "flophouse" where tenant rights are clearly not the priority, and the building manager seems to have a personal relationship with her plumber, and has taken to becoming extremely hostile when I insist that the problem be fixed, I am starting to fear some sort of retaliation if I push the matter further. Such things are illegal, I know, but can also be hard to fight. I'm starting to feel like I might prefer to take care of the problem myself, if I can.
The rocking is minor. The leak is minor. I lack the tools, money, or experience to replace the wax ring or flange myself. But would it be possible to shim the bloody thing myself, and then perhaps seal the base with some sort of grout or something? How would I do this? Would this stop it leaking onto the surface of the floor? At present, I really don't care if it leaks under the floor or something, the manager was warned, and if she chooses to risk property damage that's her business. I just want to end the health risk.
Details that may be needed: the floor is carpeting over concrete. There is no odor. The leak is very slow.
01-18-2006, 11:08 AM
This is definitely a time you should go to the health department, but if you are afraid of retaliation and are bound to try to fix it yourself, then you'd better study up on how toilets are connected to the drain. Sealing around the base of a toilet is not done to stop a leaking seal. The seal is made by placing a wax ring or new style waxless ring on the "horn" projection on the underside of the toilet. This then is onto a flange that is attached to the actual sewer pipe. The flange has a ring that sets on top of the finished floor and has slots for bolts on each side. The flange must be oriented properly when installed so that these bolts will match the holes in the toilet base. The flange and the floor must also be level so that the toilet will set level and solidly. If all of this is properly done, the toilet will not rock and will not leak. The caulking around the front is done to keep water and debris from getting under the toilet and appearance, not to seal a poor drain seal. If the flange is properly installed, the floor is in good condition and level, resetting the toilet is not a difficult task. You first must empty all of the water for the bowl and tank and disconnect the supply line. The unscrew the nuts on the two bolts and the toilet will come out with a bit of rocking to break the seal. Then clean the old wax ring off, get new mounting bolts and nuts (the old ones will not be fit to use over) Inspect how the flange is mounted. It must be attached to a solid floor. If the floor has been exposed to a leak for a long period of time, it very well may be rotted. This must be repaired before proceeding. As you may surmise, you could be getting into more of a job than just a routine removing and replacing a toilet.
01-18-2006, 04:13 PM
Also, if the toilet was set ONTO the carpeting, rather than the carpeting just butting up against the toilet, you'll never get it to sit properly and the seal to last.
It isn't really very hard to replace a wax seal ring. Some people use coins to shim the toilet so it doesn't rock and they sell plastic shims. Those have both good and bad points - you may need to caulk them to make them stay in place. Unless you need to repair the floor, the parts are only a couple of dollars, and all you need is a wrench to undo the bolts holding it to the floor and one to undo the water supply line (this may be a nut you can turn by hand). As mentioned, it might be good to replace the bolts with new ones, but those are cheap, too. Assuming you can lift the toilet, you can probably do this.
01-18-2006, 06:34 PM
If as you say you dont have the $$ to fix this problem, which in my oppinion wouldn't be more then a 10$ repair or you feel you will be retaliated upon if you pester these people to fix it right then all you can do is live w/ this problem or move! as was stated earlier all that is needed is the two flange bolts which are connecting the toilet to the brass flange.
1st thing I would do is make sure that the flange bolts are tight-they might have not been tightened enuf to begin with and with your sitting on the bowl which would compress the wax thinner leaving bolts now loose and toilet rocking. If their loose now retighten and be careful not to crack bowl. And then just grout the joint of where bowl meets floor with either tile grount or an adhesive silicon caulk which matches the toile color and do not sit on bowl till it dries.
If everything is tight and it still leakes and you do not want to pester these people or you just dont give a damn then just caulk the bowl to floor with silicon which should keep water from seeping out from underneath and let all water seep into floor below till those people complain that they can't live with the water damage or the smell.
01-19-2006, 12:11 PM
If it were me, I'd be VERY reluctant to do any work on this unit. Even if you properly replaced the wax ring flawlessly, should ANYTHING go wrong with that toilet at any time in the future, guess who'll be blamed for it? You! Even if there is pre-existing damage to the subfloor before you even touch the toilet, you will get the blame since you touched it last.
If you do caulk around the toilet and waste water leaks through the seal, through the subfloor, and eventually drips onto the floor below, guess who gets blamed if someone in the lower apartment gets sick? You got it!
01-19-2006, 01:25 PM
After reading Steve's reply, I would like to change my earlier position about repairing the leak yourself. He's right. This could get you into a legal problem in which you might prevail, but would hardly be worth it. I think your best action would be to first find a place to move and then call the health department.