Repairing Toilet Leaks


My problem is concerning my toilet. When the toilet is flushed, it starts to leak a few drops at a time. The drops seem to run down the pipe and then drip onto my basement ceiling. I've removed two ceiling tiles from the basement to have a look at it, but it is a hard place to have access, plus I don't really know what I'm looking for.

There's another toilet on the second floor, but there is no leak when that one is flushed.

The house was built in the 50's and the plumbing seems to be the original. I was hoping maybe you could help before I call a plumber and pay a hefty bill.


I am not sure if I understand which "pipe" shows a few drops of water after you flush the toilet. It sounds as if the leaks occur during or after the flushing, and thus a problem in the portion of the toilet past the tank outflow, but don't count on that. Here are the various possibilities and likely solutions:

(1) The leaks can ONLY be seen on the big drain pipe under the toilet, and/or around the base of the toilet and the drain pipe. This would suggest a damaged 'wax ring' which sits between the toilet base and the floor flange. Repairs would involve 'pulling' the toilet and replacing the wax ring. Before re-setting the toilet, be sure to look at the toilet flange and drain pipe to see if there are any signs of cracks.

(2) The leak can be seen around the water supply plumbing for the toilet tank. This would suggest that there are some worn out washers, loose connections, or worn out sections of the water supply assembly.

(3)The leak can be seen in the area between the tank and the toilet bowl. This would suggest a worn out cone shaped gasket, worn out washers at the bolts holding down the tank, or a need to tighten these (nuts and) bolts. Don't over tighten these bolts! You could crack the tank and/or toilet.

(4) The leaks come from the side, or back of the tank. This would suggest that the water level in the tank is too high, and water drips out of the plunger hole or the back wall hanger bolt holes (if any). You will have to adjust the level of the water in the tank by lowering the float.

In doing any of this work, it is always a good idea to replace all washers, wax rings gaskets and even the shut off valve. This will save you a lot of time, cost very little, and reduce future problems.

A good set of illustrations and further information regarding this work can be found in The Ortho Home Improvement Encyclopedia pp. 408-11. Please see the section entitled "George's Picks for the Handy Homeowner" on the Soundhome Bookstore. George