the wax rings of planet toilet.
August 26, 2006 10:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm replacing two (2) toilet seals, because there is a strong urine smell in both bathrooms, in an older house--more than can be accounted for by the poor aim of my six and nine-year-olds. We have seen water pooled at the base of one toilet. I have seen waxless rings, but I have also seen (the last time I googled this when we lived in another house) a waxless ring of sorts that was quite a bit longer than the standard waxless ring. Does anyone know what I am talking about and if they work? I am hesitant to try wax again because of the mess and relative difficulty. Thanks for your help with this banal question.
posted by craniac to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
I think the phrase you're looking for is "Long throat" wax rings. I know the wax is messy, but it really works well. Here's some brief instructions for seal replacement.
  1. Shut off water, flush, and bail out tank. get as much water as you can out of the bowl too. disconnect the supply line.
  2. remove the nuts that hold the toliet to the floor.
  3. lift the toliet off the bolts. CAREFULLY, tip it on it's side so you can assess the state of the ring. you might also want to set somthing on the hole in the floor to block the smell while you work.
  4. use a putty knife to scrape away the old wax. don't get it on anything you like, becaue it doesn't come off. put it direcly into a plastic bag.
  5. clean the floor area where the toliet sits. you might want to use some urine odor neutralizer. when the floor is clean and dry, unpack the new rink. Center it over the throat on the bottom of the toliet and press it into place. Peel the plastic liner off to expose the other side of the wax.
  6. lift the toliet onto the bolts. press down and wiggle back and forth to seat the wax ring.
  7. before you fill the tank, check that the tank gasket hasn't slipped and that the bolts in the tank are still tight.
  8. reattach supply lines, fill and test flush. watch for leakage at the base of the tank and on the floor. One thing that may help if your boys have bad aim: a thin bead of caulk around the base of the toliet. this prevent urine from getting between the floor and the edge of the toliet where it can't be cleaned out. Good luck!

posted by cosmicbandito at 10:56 PM on August 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

The smell that usually emanates from broken seals is not usually urine. What you will probably find when you lift the toilets is that the sub-floor the toilet is sitting on is damp and rotted. Be prepared to do more than replace a seal. I would strongly suggest that you do one toilet at a time. You will probably end up running a bead of caulking around the toilet itself just so the moisture doesn't migrate beneath the throne. Enjoy.
posted by ptm at 11:13 PM on August 26, 2006

One thing that may help if your boys have bad aim: a thin bead of caulk around the base of the toliet.

Applying a bead of silicone caulk around the base of the toilet is a good idea - not only does it prevent urine from getting under the edge of the toilet, it also helps hold the toilet in place (and a secure toilet is less likely to leak from the wax bowl ring). However, if you use caulk, consider omitting the caulk from the back side of the toilet base. That way if the wax bowl ring ever leaks, water will have a chance to leak out the back and alert someone to the problem. Otherwise, if you completely seal the toilet base to the floor, a leak will only show up by either water dripping through the floor (on a 2nd floor or over a basement) or when the floor begins to rot near the toilet.
posted by RichardP at 11:51 PM on August 26, 2006

Allow me to suggest you have a backup plan. Let's do this on a weekday, when plumbers don't make double time, for instance, and know the name of one somebody liked once. Parts are easier to get on a weekday when the hardware stores are open late, etc.

The shutoff valves never get used, and it's common for them to leak a few hours after they are reopened until the valve reseats, you might want to put a little container under it and watch it for a while. Also, if the toilet tank innards are getting old, it'd be a good time to replace them while you have it dried out anyway.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 7:05 AM on August 27, 2006

Excellent advice all. I do believe that one of the toilets is leaking, as we have seen water pooled around the base before it has been used in the morning, and the liquid is of the same composition of that in the bowl--that is, if someone forgot to flush, it is yellow.
posted by craniac at 9:00 AM on August 27, 2006

You can do this, craniac. With no experience, using only instructions from library books (well, I am a library staffer), I took up a toilet, tore out the rotted floor beneath it, put down plywood, tiled the floor, replaced the wax ring with one of those longer plastic thingies, put the toilet back on the ring, then replaced all the toilet innards in about 12 hours. In hindsight, I should have stopped for lunch.

So, with a decent book or two in hand, and listening to the folks here who know from toilets (unlike me), you'll be just fine. Don't rush, be aware in advance of what potential complications might be, and maybe have a trusted plumber's phone number, in case things really go south.
posted by QIbHom at 8:56 PM on August 27, 2006

update: I replaced one toilet ring last week. The bolts were rusted through. It was in the basement, on a cement floor, so no subflooring problems. So far it has held up, although the tubing leading to the base of the tank had to be retightened after the installation.
posted by craniac at 7:25 AM on September 30, 2006

Also, I should add that I really should have tested for leaks with dye, as I believe my seven year old was just pissing onto the floor when he stumbled into the bathroom each morning.
posted by craniac at 10:36 PM on March 3, 2007

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