How to Properly Set a Toilet to Avoid Leakage

Atoilet from above

GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images

There are a few key factors to properly setting a toilet that everyone should be aware of. Whether you are replacing a toilet, or resetting the existing toilet after a repair, knowing what to look out for can make the job easier. Following these guidelines when setting a toilet will help make sure you get a good seal and don't have to worry about the toilet leaking.

  • 01 of 05

    Flange Height

    Toilet flange extension
    Aaron Stickley

    First things to be careful of is proper flange height. With the toilet removed, you can see the toilet flange and measure its height above the floor. Optimum flange height to aim for is 1/4 inch above the finished floor. This allows for basically any type of wax to be used and still get a great seal. If you recently tiled or changed the bathroom flooring, it is very likely that the flange height is less than optimal.

    To get the necessary clearance from the floor, you can install a toilet flange extension. An extension is quick and easy to install. Flange extensions are available in 1/2 or 1/4 inch so you can make up the difference easily. With a flange extension, you can raise your flange height to where it needs to be and be ready for a bowl wax or other type seal. Most flange extensions come with longer bolts, which may be necessary if the flange is below the floor level.

  • 02 of 05

    Closet Bolts

    Toilet wax ring on flange
    Aaron Stickley

    The closet bolts need to be properly secured to the flange. It is a good idea to use a nut and washer to hold the closet bolts to the closet flange. This will ensure you do not knock the bolts over when installing the toilet, and it will make it much easier to remove the bolts in the future. When you are buying a toilet or replacement wax ring, check to make sure that it comes with extra nuts and washers or buy an extra pack while you are at the store.

    Note: If you are using a toilet flange extension, then you will have to bolt the extension down to the original flange.

  • 03 of 05

    Wax Ring

    Wax ring
    Aaron Stickley

    The wax rings with the poly ring inside provide a great seal and are the most popular. Set the wax ring on the closet flange, not on the toilet. Then pick up the toilet and set it evenly over the closet flange, making sure the bolts come through the bolt holes. With the toilet in the right spot, push it down, so it smashes the wax evenly until the base of the toilet rests on the floor.

    If the flange height is slightly less than a 1/4 inch above the floor level, you can use an extra thick wax ring to make up the small difference. Do not be tempted to use double wax rings because they tend to leak. Installing a flange extension or using an extra thick wax ring will work much better in the long run.

  • 04 of 05

    Level the Toilet

    Inserted shims under a toilet
    Aaron Stickley

    Before you bolt the toilet down, check that it is level by carefully rocking it from side to side and back to front. If it does not sit perfectly flat, it will rock, and you will want to put toilet shims around the toilet to stop the rocking before bolting it down. The location and the number of shims necessary dependĀ on the toilet and the floor; every situation is different. Getting the toilet shimmed before bolting it down will ensure it does not come loose in the future. Once the toilet stops rocking, you can bolt it down with a nut and washer on each closet bolt. These bolts only need to be snug not overly tight, or you can crack the toilet.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Caulking Finish

    Caulking a toilet
    Aaron Stickley

    Cut off any portion of the toilet shims that stick out, and caulk around the base of the toilet. This will give a little more protection against movement in the future, and it will be much easier to clean because you will not get a layer of dust and detritus under the toilet where you can not reach it.