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#4635954 - 01/15/18 05:00 PM Wax Rings on Toilets, how long do they last?
5AcresAndAFool Offline


Registered: 12/18/16
Posts: 421
Loc: Indiana
I have replaced a number of wax rings over the years that have failed in places I have lived or for family or friends and I was wondering if anyone preemptively replaces them? I would think that if a toilet is setting on a firm surface such as concrete and it is seated perfectly, that they would never go bad.

As we know there is rarely a perfect situation though. There is always usually some unnoticed minute movement somewhere when getting up and down off the toilet, over time this "wears" the wax ring or the wax ring simply hardens to the point it is no longer effective.

I installed the toilet I am concerned about 9 years ago and have no issues. The floors in my house are nowhere near the most solid and sometimes when you sit down on the toilet or walk in the right spot on the floor you get a pop or creak, so there obviously is some movement, even if you cant feel it or see it. (I am not talking about a toilet that rocks or a spongy floor, just your typical creaks and pops of an older house)

I am wondering if I should pull the toilet and put a new wax seal down. I really dont want to wait until it becomes an issue and rots the floor out. There is a gap in the caulk behind the toilet to see if any water were to run out, but in my experience a wax ring failure usually starts so small and goes on for so long it is a long time until you discover the damage.

So what is the general lifespan of wax rings in your experiences? I always use Harveys IIRC, and I get the ones with the funnel built in. I have never had one I have replaced fail, but this is the longest I have ever had one in service that I replaced.

10,15,20 years? Research I have seen says on a heavily used toilet that 5 to 10 years could be expected, but in some cases they last indefinitely.I think the one on the toilet in our basement is 40 years old and original, but I have no way of knowing, but that toilet sits on concrete and rarely gets used.

The other thing is that I have seen wax-less seals in the home improvement stores recently. Has anyone ever used one of these? Are they better? Worse? indifferent? I would think they would hold up better to any movement, but who knows.


My thought is just to change it, its easy enough, and cheap enough. If I do change it I am toying with the idea of a wax-less, but might go with what has always worked for me.


Edited by 5AcresAndAFool (01/15/18 05:06 PM)

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#4635958 - 01/15/18 05:04 PM Re: Wax Rings on Toilets, how long do they last? [Re: 5AcresAndAFool]
demarpaint Offline


Registered: 07/03/05
Posts: 29807
Loc: NY
I've got two of them going on 20 years here. In fact in 35 years of home ownership I never had to replace one. I've owned houses with toilets and wax seals a lot older than 20 years.
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#4635962 - 01/15/18 05:06 PM Re: Wax Rings on Toilets, how long do they last? [Re: 5AcresAndAFool]
supton Offline


Registered: 11/09/08
Posts: 12004
Loc: NH
Can you look up from the basement?

I look up periodically at mine, family of four, and it's been 13 years now without touching. No idea how long it has been untouched. All PVC, new tile floor on a decent substructure, so maybe that matters.

Edit: now furnace parts, those seem to go often. Expansion tank and the valves that let air out. 5-7 years on those parts it seems.


Edited by supton (01/15/18 05:06 PM)
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#4635964 - 01/15/18 05:07 PM Re: Wax Rings on Toilets, how long do they last? [Re: 5AcresAndAFool]
totegoat Offline


Registered: 12/21/11
Posts: 1262
Loc: Ca
Usually last until the toilet needs replacing.

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#4635965 - 01/15/18 05:08 PM Re: Wax Rings on Toilets, how long do they last? [Re: supton]
5AcresAndAFool Offline


Registered: 12/18/16
Posts: 421
Loc: Indiana
Originally Posted By: supton
Can you look up from the basement?

I look up periodically at mine, family of four, and it's been 13 years now without touching. No idea how long it has been untouched. All PVC, new tile floor on a decent substructure, so maybe that matters.


No, I left that important detail out... Its on the second floor. I put in retrofit can light a few years ago and seen up in there, but I dont remember if I could see the drain pipe, I thought I could but not sure.

The pipes are 40yo PVC. Toilet sits on the floor nicely.

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#4635973 - 01/15/18 05:16 PM Re: Wax Rings on Toilets, how long do they last? [Re: 5AcresAndAFool]
PimTac Offline


Registered: 03/04/17
Posts: 4342
Loc: Soviet State of Washington
The only time Iíve replaced the wax ring is when I pulled the toilet. Generally they last a lifetime.
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#4635984 - 01/15/18 05:25 PM Re: Wax Rings on Toilets, how long do they last? [Re: 5AcresAndAFool]
Wheel Offline


Registered: 12/22/11
Posts: 570
Loc: Upstate NY
I just pulled up our 2 johns to install new flooring. They were put down in 1985, both were good. Both my parents have ones older than that that are good still. I think it depends on how much movement there is between the john and the plumbing. I'd love to know why exactly they fail.
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#4635986 - 01/15/18 05:27 PM Re: Wax Rings on Toilets, how long do they last? [Re: 5AcresAndAFool]
Bud Offline


Registered: 06/04/02
Posts: 1726
Loc: Texas
I had to pull one of my toilets about three years ago and went with a waxless ring. Much prefer it over a wax ring.
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#4635987 - 01/15/18 05:31 PM Re: Wax Rings on Toilets, how long do they last? [Re: 5AcresAndAFool]
Panzerman Offline


Registered: 12/16/06
Posts: 4203
Loc: Port Orange, Florida
I am remodeling the bathrooms now. The one toilet is over 40 years old. No leaks ever.
I always assumed they last a lifetime.
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#4635989 - 01/15/18 05:31 PM Re: Wax Rings on Toilets, how long do they last? [Re: 5AcresAndAFool]
JohnnyJohnson Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 2774
Loc: Wet side WA
Just about totally dependent on how well (level) they are installed. I've had the last form ten minutes to a lifetime.
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#4636000 - 01/15/18 05:47 PM Re: Wax Rings on Toilets, how long do they last? [Re: 5AcresAndAFool]
wha232 Offline


Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 24
Loc: PA
I just saw a "this old House" episode where they used a foam/rubber ring.

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#4636005 - 01/15/18 05:52 PM Re: Wax Rings on Toilets, how long do they last? [Re: wha232]
JLawrence08648 Offline


Registered: 01/20/17
Posts: 237
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: wha232
I just saw a "this old House" episode where they used a foam/rubber ring.


I saw the same episode! Never knew they existed. My local plumbing supply says plumbers never ask for them. I use the wax rings with the black funnel. Wax rings also come in two thicknesses. Without removal or movement, they last forever.

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#4636020 - 01/15/18 06:09 PM Re: Wax Rings on Toilets, how long do they last? [Re: JLawrence08648]
clinebarger Offline


Registered: 12/19/13
Posts: 1924
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: JLawrence08648
Originally Posted By: wha232
I just saw a "this old House" episode where they used a foam/rubber ring.


I saw the same episode! Never knew they existed. My local plumbing supply says plumbers never ask for them. I use the wax rings with the black funnel. Wax rings also come in two thicknesses. Without removal or movement, they last forever.


Bingo! The toilet has the be secured to the floor!!! Though my brother weighs over 350# & is constantly having wax ring issues because of the stress he puts on the base, He has problems with a lot of things because his weight.
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#4636035 - 01/15/18 06:17 PM Re: Wax Rings on Toilets, how long do they last? [Re: 5AcresAndAFool]
ecotourist Offline


Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 1068
Loc: British Columbia, Canada
It might also depend on the installation. In my recent renovations I had a toilet pulled for replacement. There were 3 stacked wax rings under it and it had leaked at some time in the past leaving a bit of rot. The plumber said he'd never seen 3 seals used before. After repairing the floor and raising the flange, we decided we'd better check the others.

A second toilet had 2 stacked seals but had not leaked. Another flange to raise.

The third toilet (on the second floor) had only one seal and hadn't leaked.

When you renovate you always have a few surprises. Usually expensive ones. But I think these wax seals are good now!

I've only ever had one other seal leak. That was in my last house when it was about 10 years old. It presented as discoloration of the lino around the toilet. I pulled out the toilet in anticipation of putting in ceramic tiles and found it pretty damp under there. I let it dry for several days and again did a bit of plywood repair.
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#4636045 - 01/15/18 06:33 PM Re: Wax Rings on Toilets, how long do they last? [Re: 5AcresAndAFool]
PimTac Offline


Registered: 03/04/17
Posts: 4342
Loc: Soviet State of Washington
Iím wondering if the rubber seals are made for certain circumstances like very overweight people or commercial use? The toilet wonít move if itís bolted down correctly. That starts with the flange being installed correctly too. I saw one installation where the flange was nailed into the plywood subfloor. Ten years later it leaked and I helped this friend fix it.

Also, builders who use chipboard in bathrooms donít care about the future. Any water that hits it weakens the stuff and the toilet starts to wiggle thus another leak. Iíve seen that as well.
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