As a homeowner, you’ve likely seen toilets leaking before. In most cases, it is the tank that’s leaking into the bowl, or maybe you can find condensation pooling around the toilet’s base. However, a toilet clogged and leaking at the base indicates a major problem: a clog inside the drain line under the toilet.
To fix a toilet that is clogged and leaking at the base, you must remove the toilet and clean the drain line. You must then remove the damaged wax ring fixing the toilet to the flange, and replace it with a new one. Then, you can reinstall the toilet. If the problem persists, you should hire a plumber.
Can A Clogged Toilet Cause A Leak At The Base?
Among the most common bathroom problems, a clogged toilet is likely the worst. After all, nobody wants to deal with a toilet bowl filled with human waste and other nasty stuff. Things are even worse if, in addition to the full bowl, you also notice leaks around the toilet base. And this is where you may ask yourself: can a clogged toilet leak from the bottom?
Unfortunately, it can. Not only can the toilet leak from the base if it is clogged, but such a leak indicates that the clog is located down the drain and not inside the toilet bowl or siphon. What does that mean?
In a nutshell, a toilet that won’t flush and leaks from the base means that a plunger is useless. Trying to dissolve the clog with Powder Plunger or other chemical clog removers may also be futile. You have to remove the toilet and unclog the drain line with a plumber’s snake. Otherwise, you may have to hire a plumber.
How To Fix A Clogged Toilet Leaking At Base
A toilet that is clogged with water coming out of the bottom needs to be dealt with promptly. Unblocking a toilet drain line is easy if the clog hasn’t traveled too far down the line. However, if you attempt to unclog by flushing the toilet and using a plunger, you might actually push the clog further down the drain.
By doing so, you risk clogging the main sewer line, making it difficult for any wastewater – black or gray – to escape your home’s plumbing system. With this in mind, here’s how to fix a clogged toilet leaking at the base.
What You’ll Need
- Adjustable wrench
- Adjustable pliers
- Ratchet wrench
- Putty knife
- Plumber’s snake
- Wax ring
- Small hacksaw
- Toilet mounting kit
- Rubber gloves
- Waterproof sheet
- Duct tape
1. Drain the toilet
Removing a clogged toilet is often challenging, mainly because you have to empty it somehow. To avoid draining it with a bucket, you could try to use a plunger or plumbing auger and see if you can get the water to drain, even if slowly.
If you manage to unclog it partially, let the waste drain first, then turn off the water supply to the toilet. Flush it to empty the tank, then remove the rest of the water from the tank with a sponge.
Flush again to empty the toilet bowl completely. Alternatively, lay a waterproof sheet on the bathroom floor to place the toilet on it after detaching.
If a plunger or plumbing auger doesn’t help at this stage, you’ll have to empty it with a smaller bucket into a larger bucket, then dispose of the wastewater once you’ve dealt with the clog.
2. Remove the toilet
Once the bowl is empty, proceed to remove the toilet. Start with the tank and disconnect the water supply line. Unfasten the screw connecting the tank to the bowl, lift the tank and set it aside.
You now have to detach the toilet from the floor. If the toilet is leaking from the base, chances are the nuts and bolts fixing it are rusted or corroded. In this case, you may find it easier to unfasten them if you spray some liquid lubricant and then unscrew.
Remove the silicone caulking around the toilet base with a cutter, then grab the bowl from both sides.
Rock the toilet back and forth to detach the wax ring sealing the toilet to the flange. Once the wax ring breaks, you can lift the toilet and move it aside.
3. Remove the wax ring
Turn the toilet bowl on one side so that you can access the bottom and remove the wax ring stuck to it with a cutter. Then, remove the pieces of wax stuck to the closet flange with a putty knife.
Inspect the toilet flange for signs of cracks or decay and remove it if necessary. If the flange is in good condition, you can leave it where it is.
4. Unclog the drain line
Wearing your protective equipment, place a waterproof sheet on your bathroom floor. Tear open a hole above the toilet flange and seal the sheet around the flange with duct tape.
Inspect the drain with a flashlight. If the clog isn’t too far down, you may be able to spot it and, sometimes, even grab and pull it out with your fingers. If you can’t see anything, the clog is further down the line.
Snake the drain with the plumbing auger to remove the clog. Clogs usually get stuck to the auger, and you’ll be able to pull them out. If the auger comes out clean, you have either pushed the clog further down the line or can’t reach it.
Test if the pipe is unclogged by pouring a bucket of water down the drain. The waterproof sheet you’ve placed on the floor will prevent dirty water from getting all over them if the drain is still clogged. Pour the water slowly and see if it drains or remains trapped inside the drain.
At this stage, you could also pour a few packets of chemical cleaner down the drain and pour hot water to dissolve the clog.
5. Replace the toilet flange bolts
Once you’ve removed the clog, you can prepare to install the toilet back. The first step is to replace the toilet flange bolts – this step is recommended each time you replace the wax ring.
Remove the waterproof sheet first, then take off the toilet bolts. Replace them with the new set of bolts in your toilet mounting kit.
6. Reinstall the toilet
When the new bolts are in position, place the new wax ring on top of the flange and make sure it is centered.
Use the bolts as a guide to place the toilet over the wax seal without moving it. As you’re positioning the toilet, keep in mind that the tank should be parallel to the wall behind it when you’re done.
However, don’t rock the toilet to adjust its position. Instead, use gentle side-to-side movements until the bowl is resting in the desired position. Once the bowl is in position, screw the nuts over the bolts and tighten them.
Place the tank in position and reconnect it to the bowl. Seal all joints with new plumber’s tape. When you’re done, connect the water line to the tank and turn on the water.
7. Test the toilet
After you’ve reinstalled the toilet, turn on the water and let the tank fill. Check for leaks near the water supply line and around the tank.
When the tank is full, flush to fill the bowl. You can then flush again to test the drain. If the toilet flushes normally, you’ve removed the clog successfully. Otherwise, the line is still clogged.
How To Unclog A Toilet Without Causing A Leak
A clog that has traveled too far down the drain is nearly impossible to remove yourself. The only thing you can do to prevent future leaks is to call a plumber and use another toilet until you have the drain line unclogged or replaced.
You should also call a plumber if the steps above have only helped you solve the problem temporarily, but the toilet gets clogged over and over again. This could be an indicator for other issues, such as tree roots blocking the line or larger objects, such as toys, stuck down the drain.
In both situations, the item in the drain can cause the organic matter and toilet paper to accumulate and block the toilet constantly. Tree roots and larger objects stuck in the main sewer line can block the drainage of wastewater for the whole house, so it is essential to deal with this matter as promptly as possible.
Fixing a clogged toilet that’s leaking at the base isn’t easy, but you may be able to solve the issue yourself if the clog hasn’t traveled too far down the drain. To avoid getting in this situation in the first place, you should avoid flushing random objects down the drain, including sanitary pads, diapers, paper towels, cotton pads, or hair. With this in mind, we hope this guide can help you remove the clog and prevent future clogging.