Before answering the question of
‘How long does a toilet wax ring last?’,…
it may be helpful to know what the heck a wax ring has to do with your toilet in the first place…
A wax ring for your toilet is pretty much precisely what it sounds like…
– a ring made out of a very tacky wax which aids in forming a watertight seal at the point where the bottom of the toilet and the top of the sewer pipe meet.
A plumber by the name of Paul Thies is credited with
inventing the wax seal in the mid-1950s.
There have been a number of modifications to this handy methodological device over the years but all with the same intent…
– to minimize the potential for leakage at this crucial juncture where the bottom of the toilet meets the top of the sewer pipe.
So what happens if the wax ring does leak?
This, of course, should be answered in the context of the fact that water needs only the slightest bit of a compromise at this critical meeting point, to begin seeping out and leaking toward whatever may be located below it.
A leak in a wax ring may be noticed soon after it is incurred or it may, literally, take years to be discovered.
These types of leaks are most often learned about, as was the recent experience realized by a Client of ours this past week, when a ceiling below the toilet begins to show some signs of water staining, which, in turn, is often then traced back to the toilet where it is found out that the wax ring has been broken in some fashion.
In theory, the wax ring “should” last the lifetime of the toilet,
or certainly 20 to 30 years.
We come across situations all the time, however, where wax rings are in need of replacing well short of this scenario.
Besides leaking, signs that the wax ring may need replacing could be an odd odor seemingly stemming from the area where the toilet meets the floor, or if the toilet itself feels wobbly.
If a toilet is not properly secured, it may get loose to the point where the wax seal gets damaged and subsequently begins leaking to some degree (obviously it IS possible to catch the wobbliness prior to the wax seal being broken).
If a wax ring does need to be replaced because it is found to no longer be functional, my recommendation is to have it done by a professional.
Could an average homeowner replace the wax ring?
Because of the expertise involved though,
I personally would not recommend it.
I have seen a number of times in the past when folks thought that it was easy enough to do and attempted to do it themselves with disastrous results.
Either a plumber has to be called in to properly correct things, a leak occurs where the damage needing to be corrected is super-involved, or some combination of both!
I have seen non-knowledgeable, well-intended homeowners caulk around the base of the toilet (where it meets the floor) attempting to solve what truly is actually a wax ring repair-oriented leak.
To a plumber, I imagine this type of homeowner attempt would be “cute”,
but entirely non-effective.
While extremely appealing because the entire material cost of the wax ring fix might be $10 or less, the priceless knowledge of a seasoned professional that can save one from the painfully annoying aggravation of a wax ring leak repair gone bad, is well-worth its weight in gold!!
Have a Project in Mind?
Call and Schedule a Phone Conversation with me, Tom!!