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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
I notice a tiny leak seeping through the line between vinyl tiles in front of my toilet base. The base is caulked, and it looks like the leak has been going for some time since the line looks brown.

How do I further diagnosed this? Do I need to replace the wax ring in the toilet base? Or is there a pipe leak underneath (concrete slab below)?
Please see attached photos where I see the leak.
Thank you for any suggestions!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you, DrHicks, for your quick response!

I notice the water coming up from the vinyl lines 2 inches away from the left side of the base of the toilet. Not directly from the base of the toilet.

So you think the wax ring is cracked and water is leaking under the floor and coming up between the vinyl line?

Thank you
 

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@JayC98 Look around really good and make sure the leak isn't coming from the shut off, or another part of the toilet and causing the puddle..

If there is no other signs of leakage from anywhere else, it's safe to assume it's the wax ring or flange issue. Replace that and your issue should be solved. Post a picture of the flange after you pull the toilet. Thank you.

Do you have access from underneath?

Btw, welcome to the forums.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank, Jmon, for your response and welcome. What a great forum!

I checked around and found there is also some water seeping out of the lines in the vinyl tiles on the side of the base. So does this seem pretty clear the flange/wax ring needs to be replaced, right?

Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Question: Even without flushing the toilet, can a broken wax ring/flange cause leak from the base of the toilet? I see small amount of water constantly oozing out from the grout lines of the vinyl tiles around the base -- from one grout line in the front of the toilet and the sides of the toilet next to the where the bolts are. When not flushing the toilet, where is the water coming from? The bowl itself?

Should I cut the caulk around the base of the toilet to find out first?

Thank you for educating me!
 

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@JayC98 Look around really good and make sure the leak isn't coming from the shut off, or another part of the toilet and causing the puddle..

If there is no other signs of leakage from anywhere else, it's safe to assume it's the wax ring or flange issue. Replace that and your issue should be solved. Post a picture of the flange after you pull the toilet. Thank you.
Possible crack in the porcelain of the S-trap too.

You will definitely need to cut the caulk off if you have established that the leak source is not the supply hose/valve or any of the seals between valve and bowl. You can wrap TP around the stub of the supply valve below the tank (circled in blue); if that gets wet, your problem is either the supply's seal with the valve, or the valve's seal with the tank.
White Plumbing fixture Toilet Toilet seat Gas

You can wrap TP above the base where the tank rests (circled in red). If this TP gets wet, your leak may be the tank-to-bowl bolt seals, or the rubber donut between the tank and bowl. They are pretty easy to replace.

If that doesn't pan out, I'd try bunching TP around the area where the bolts come through that part of the bowl. If that TP gets wet, the leak is the bolt seals.

If you've established that neither tank seals nor supply are leaking, it may be a failed wax ring or a cracked bowl, and for those you'll need to remove the caulk.
 

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Question: Even without flushing the toilet, can a broken wax ring/flange cause leak from the base of the toilet? I see small amount of water constantly oozing out from the grout lines of the vinyl tiles around the base -- from one grout line in the front of the toilet and the sides of the toilet next to the where the bolts are. When not flushing the toilet, where is the water coming from? The bowl itself?

Should I cut the caulk around the base of the toilet to find out first?

Thank you for educating me!
It's possible there could be a hair line crack in the porcelain of the toilet. Not likely, rare, but it can happen.

Remember there is at least a gallon of water or so in the trap and bowl at all times.

Only way to know for sure is to pull the toilet and inspect, see whats going on.

Does the water level in the bowl seem fine or look low?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks, all, for your help. I'm not a handy person at all and will have a steep learning curve! Will try the different diagnoses you suggested.
 

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Concerning the caulk... After you replace the wax ring I would not caulk around the base of the toilet. My thought is it traps leaking water under the toilet. I want to know right away when a wax seal fails. If you have wood floors / sub floor this is more of an issue than a concrete slab.

I would also replace the flange and bolts. There is a good chance they have rusted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I just noticed right after flushing, the water in the bowl would go down within minutes. See my markings in black over several minutes. But the water stops going down after some time and stays where the photo shows. Does this new piece of info pinpoint to any particular area?

Thank you
 

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That makes me lean even more to a crack in the bowl, probably at the elevation of the lowest dot. Was there more evidence of leakage on the floor when you did this?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hello again,

I suspect the flange is really old cast iron from early 1950 when the house was built. All original plumbing parts in my home are cast iron.

When the toilet was replaced 6 years ago, I remember seeing the flange all rusty but the plumber just replaced the wax ring, not the flange.

Should the flange be replaced? On YT it looks very complicated requiring cutting the cast iron, etc.

What should be done?

Thank you for your advice!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Also, the floor flange is different from the flange that usually comes with the wax ring?

Some wax rings say they come with a flange. But that's the same as the one that's bolted to the floor, right? So confusing.
 

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Assuming you have a second bathroom remove to toilet and you can start to figure it out. It might take a couple trips to the home improvement store to get the right adapter. There are adapters to convert from cast iron to plastic. You will need to remove the old flange
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I had a plumber come in today, and he opened it up, but he said the old cast iron flange was still ok and only replaced the wax ring. Please see photo attached. It looks very rusty and from the 1950s.

After he installed the toilet, he grouted the base. I thought it should be left open for a while. I tried to wipe some off afterwards.

But small amount of water is still seeping out of the lines between vinyl tiles like before. He said because some old water was still trapped underneath from before and wait for a day for it to dry out.

Please see what he did was correct and any changes should be made?

Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
1) Do you think the iron cast flange needs to be replaced? It looks very corroded. Even if you put a new wax ring over it, some water might still seep through the flange if has tiny corroded holes in it?

Also the flange seems to lower than the current vinyl floor. It was flushed with the old floor below and the current vinyl floor is slightly above it, not much since the vinyl is thin. Is this an issue?

2) I'm trying to test the cracked porcelain theory by pouring half a bucket of water into the bowl. And see it always drains down and stops at the same level as after I flush the toilet. The bowl doesn't hold the extra water even when there's no flushing and external water is added. Is this because the toilet is cracked or it has a built-in overflow mechanism? It's just a basic Delta toilet.

But I don't see water seeping out onto the floor anymore.

Please let me know what you think. Thank you!
 

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Here's a "how it works" toilet pic:
Automotive lighting Font Basketball hoop Parallel Elbow


And a cross-sectional pic:
Line Font Parallel Elbow Slope


If you just dump water in the bowl, it's not going to flush from the rim. If you dump enough in the bowl to get the level above the trapway, it will flush some of the water due to siphon action, probably down to about the water seal level. If you just pour a little water in, water will drain to the weir elevation. If you just leave it from there, giving it a minute to equilibrate, the level should not change, barring any removal like evaporation. If you're seeing the level changing in a matter of a few hours, I'm saying you may have a leak in the bowl ceramic somewhere below the weir elevation (I've lined it in red on the section, but don't forget this thing is 3-dimensional).
 
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