Possible leaky wax ring

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vinny186

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A friend of mine has a couple water stains on her ceiling below her upstairs toilet. I don't see any leaks from the water line or the tank so I thought it could be from the wax ring. She has lived there for five years and never did anyting with the toilet so the wax ring could be as much as 16 years old of course we don't know what the previous owner did with the toilet. I was thinking she could add a dye to the tank and see if it shows up on the ceiling, what do you think of this approach?
I thought she could try the dye method before cutting a hole into the ceiling because the staining seems to be sporadic even though she uses the toilet and an adjacent shower daily. The shower has a fiberglass pan so unless it's leaking from the pipes below,the shower probably isn't the problem and the leak seems to line up better with the toilet. On a side note would the food dye stain the porcelain?
 

Snoonyb

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Pulling the WC and replacing the wax ring is about a 45min task.
 

nealtw

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I would suspect the shower tile, because I have seen it a couple times . Wax rings usually leak the day you put them in or they are good.
 

slownsteady

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Have you checked for excessive sweating on the toilet. it would have to be a lot to work it's way down thru the ceiling, but the problem may have existed for a long time.

Also check that the toilet is firmly fastened to the floor. If it rocks a little, there may be days that it leaks.
 

vinny186

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The toilet is firmly seated.

A month ago we noticed a 6" x 2' water stained area in the ceiling but it hasn't changed since then. A couple weeks ago we noticed a quarter sized stain not far from the original but it also hasn't changed since we first noticed it.

We're going to try the dye test first and if that doesn't show us anything then we'll cut the drywall.
 

nealtw

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The toilet is firmly seated.

A month ago we noticed a 6" x 2' water stained area in the ceiling but it hasn't changed since then. A couple weeks ago we noticed a quarter sized stain not far from the original but it also hasn't changed since we first noticed it.

We're going to try the dye test first and if that doesn't show us anything then we'll cut the drywall.
A few years ago with a stain like that I found the bench in the shower was leaking and when I took it apart, it looked like the wood there had been absorbing water for years.
 

CallMeVilla

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Have seen downstairs water stain from drippage at the angle stop. Check your toilet supply line and shut off. If the house was very old, rusted or loosened plumbing under the toilet would be a source too. Start with the simple and work to the complex.
 

pjones

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If the ceiling is damaged enough that it will need to be repaired then you may as well cut it out now and quit the guess work.

As for the dye, I wouldn't waste my time. If it's a slow and intermittent issue then you may need to flush the toilet 50 times before you have enough drips to make their way through the ceiling to the point that it can be seen. And if you don't see anything then you are still left guessing. Was it not enough dye? Was it simply not leaking at the times you flushed? Is it just pooled on the ceiling waiting to come through? Too many questions remain unanswered with that technique. It can be a good solution but it's probably not the best suited for the small intermittent leak like you are experiencing.

As mentioned before. It would be easier to put some gloves on, lift the toilet, scrape the old was ring off. Put a new one (or two) in place, reseat the toilet. Done.

I am more skeptical of the shower also. Water can travel before it finds a place to come through so it's not unreasonable for it to be a ways away from the actual source.

Is the toilet sealed around the base? Is it possible that water is leaking through when the floor is washed?

I just saw this post is 3 months old. Did you ever find the source?
 

vinny186

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She had a plumber come out and he suspected it was a spot in the shower that needed to be caulked and because she hasn't been living there much, the toilets and showers are not getting used so the matter is no longer an issue.
Thanks for the responses.
 
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