Second-floor toilet is leaking, can you help me figure out the best course of action regarding the floor?
September 26, 2012 7:07 PM   Subscribe

Second-floor toilet is leaking, can you help me figure out the best course of action regarding the floor?

About two months ago I replaced the toilet, tile and substrate in our second-floor bathroom. Today I noticed two golfball-sized water stains in the ceiling below the bathroom. After removing the toilet, it looks like a quarter of the visible wood is soaked (is this considered to be rotten at this point?) The other 3/4th of the exposed wood is dry, FWIW.

Here's a gross picture of the flange/wax ring with arrows pointing to the wet areas:

I'm not sure how far the wetness extends below the cement-board substrate, but from the little bit of substrate exposed in the photo, the wetness seems to only extend about an inch or so. My hope is that since the spot on the ceiling below is relatively small (especially considering that it has been presumably been leaking for over a month,) that means the damage isn't too terrible.

Do I need to rip everything up and replace the floor? Obviously, I don't want to, but I do want to fix this the right way (even if the right way isn't the easy way.)
posted by joshwebb to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
Best answer: Just because the wood is wet, doesn't mean it's rotten. As long as you can let the wood dry out, there should be no lasting damage. Obviously, you need to solve the leak first but, if you can do without that toilet for a week or so, it should dry up and you can put everything back together. I would suggest that you seal that timber once it's dry so that water can't get into it in future.
posted by dg at 8:10 PM on September 26, 2012

Is the top of the flange square with the tiles? From the photo, it kind of looks like one side of the wax seal wasn't pushed down far enough to seal. Maybe try stacking 2 wax rings when you re-install. I'm no expert but sure wouldn't rip up the floor of a reno that was so recent.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:18 PM on September 26, 2012

Best answer: the flange should stick up a little above the level the toilet rests on. it looks like you built up the floor so that the flange is below the surface and the wax ring isnt making a proper seal. also, the wax ring should be at least 75 deg. F in order to be malleable enough. luckily they make rings that go on top of the flange to build it up (plumbing codes may differ as to whether this conforms)

im not sure its going to dry out any faster with the toilet off. i would probably just fix the flange and reinstall the toilet...
posted by at 8:52 PM on September 26, 2012

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