The Definitive Guide to Fix a Leaking Toilet

guide to fixing your leaking toiletWith a leaking toilet, the trouble can come from a variety of sources.

How are you supposed to identify the problem, let alone the parts to fix the issue?

In this article, we will help you speak toilet to diagnose what is going on.

Keep reading below for more info to see if you can handle the repair yourself, or if you need to call in professional help.

Where to Begin

Start by taking a look inside the tank. Note if the water is rising above what is called the “overflow tube.” This tube is very long, aligned vertically, and is made of plastic.

If water is indeed coming out of the overflow tube, then you may likely have an issue with the float or inlet valve.

Note that the plastic float (similar size to a baseball) rises and falls with the water level to shut off the flow of water.

When this mechanism doesn’t work as intended, you get water that spills over the top of the overflow tube and into the bowl.

Adjust the Float

You can adjust a screw at the top of the float, which will adjust the level of the overall device.

The float is easily identified because it looks like a plastic hockey puck or baseball.

Typically the adjustment you will have to make will be to lower it, so try taking a few turns of the screw mentioned earlier to see how it responds.

It is possible there is an issue with the float itself. For example, it could have a hole in it.

The next culprit to check is the float rod, which the float is attached to. The good news is that if this needs replacing they are only a few dollars.

Entire Assembly Replacement

If the float is indeed bad, it’s usually best to replace the whole assembly. Sounds intimidating, but don’t let it be so!

Before replacing, make sure the water is shut off at the shut-off valve (under the toilet) and flush the toilet to remove as much water as possible from the tank.

There will be a supply line that connects the bottom of the float to the base of the tank. You’ll need pliers to remove the nut that fastens the float to the overall tank.

A Leaking Toilet From the Base

If your toilet is leaking from its base, this will typically occur when you flush it.

The water that is leaking out, unfortunately, is dirty water which can also damage the subfloor in your bathroom.

The fix for this issue involves tightening the toilet via the tee bolts. More specifics on this fix below:

  • Make sure you stop using the toilet immediately and have some disinfectant handy to clean up the water around the base of the toilet.
  • If the toilet is literally loose from the floor, you may need to take a look at the wax ring, which provides a proper seal for the toilet.
  • The wax ring is located between the base of the toilet and the flange.
  • The issue with this ring is once it becomes compressed, it will no longer spring back to form a seal.

The tee bolts will have plastic covers that need to be removed. Grab an adjustable wrench to work on the tee bolts.

Wax Ring Replacement

As mentioned earlier, if the wax ring becomes compressed you’ve got an issue.

Fortunately, a wax ring replacement is only a few dollars, but you’ll need to remove the entire toilet to access it.

Note the process will take a few hours, so plan accordingly. Here are the steps to take:

  • After you purchase a new wax ring, remove the toilet from the floor and lay on its side.
  • With caution, clean the old wax ring from the base of the toilet and toilet flange.
  • You may notice corroded tee bolts, so this could also be a good time to replace them as well.
  • Once you add the new wax ring, sometimes it is necessary to add a “filler” wax ring so everything can be level with the floor line.
  • Install the toilet back on its base and check for leaks around the base.

It is important to note that when you have completed this task you will then need to caulk around the toilet base.

Do NOT use caulk as a solution alone to remedy this problem and make sure there is no water left behind before applying caulk as it will create mold.

Parts to Know About

If you need to go to the hardware store or speak to a plumber on the phone, we’ve included some key toilet components to know about below.

After all, it is good to know some key terminology so you can speak to the issue of your leaking toilet when you are sourcing a part or asking for advice:

  1. Refill tube. Replaces the water after each flush and runs from the vertical overflow tube we mentioned earlier
  2. Float cup. Large plastic ball that regulates water level
  3. Chain. Connects the flapper to the float rod
  4. Flapper. Rubber component that lets water flow into the bowl
  5. Gasket. Provides the seal in between the tank and bowl
  6. Wax ring. Seals the bottom of the toilet and the drain
  7. Closet bolt. Holds the toilet bowl to the flange and is held together via bolts

To gain even more info before jumping into your leaking toilet project, click over to the blog at Hays Cooling Heating & Plumbing.

Wrapping Up

A leaking toilet isn’t a lot of fun but if you are a do-it-yourself type person it can make for a project where you can save yourself some money.

If you maybe gave it an attempt or became frustrated at trying to pry a part loose – fret not as you can reach out to a certified professional.

Hays Cooling Heating & Plumbing frequently runs specials so be sure to check out their website for the latest deals.


Got a leaky or clogged toilet? Contact Hays Plumbing & Drain, your trusted toilet repair company in Phoenix, to handle even the most challenging toilet issues. Email us or call (602) 714-8270 now!


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About the Author

Chris Hays

Founder of Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing

Chris and Stacia Hays, are the owners of Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing; a family owned and operated HVAC company in Phoenix founded in 2001 that services both commercial and residential customers. Chris leads a team of certified technicians who have over 45 years of combined experience and has earned and A+ rating with the BBB and a strong five star rating online. Hays Cooling and Heating focuses on providing support to their customers every step of the way, with exceptional service and competitive prices. If you are looking for top-notch air conditioning and heating service, contact, Chris or Stacia today at (602) 607-1424.