Bizarre toilet leaking problem

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I don't blame you if you don't believe this. If I hadn't seen it personally, I wouldn't either. Here's the situation.
After 10 years, the caulking around the base of the toilet and the tile floor it sits on started look shabby. So I removed it. Before replacing it, I took a shower. After getting out of the shower, I noticed that the rug in front of the toilet was wet. I thought that maybe one of the two sliding shower doors wasn't fully closed. So I just wiped the floor dry.
Next day, still with no caulk around the base of the toilet, I showered again. Now I could see water oozing out from around the toilet base. The shower nozzle is at the end of a 6' hose, so while standing in front of the toilet I aimed the nozzle directly into the shower drain (about 32 inches away), hoping to see water seep out from the toilet base. That didn't happen.
Next, I removed the toilet and again aimed the nozzle directly into the shower drain, for longer than it takes me to shower. By listening at the toilet drain, I could hear the water running out the shower drain, but no water was visible at the toilet drain.
There is no sluggishness in the shower drain or when the toilet flushes, so I have to rule out a partial blockage past the point both drains merge. Since the house is on a slab, and I only weight 145 pounds, I can't attribute the oozing due to floor deflection when I'm standing in the shower. And there's no seepage when I flush the toilet.
It would appear that the old caulk was damming back the water, but there was no caulk at the back of the toilet because it was too hard to reach that spot. So any dammed water could have escaped at the back.
The old wax ring was still soft and sticky, but there was some black discoloration (maybe mold) at one point. There may have also been a passageway between the inner and outer diameters at this point.
I installed a new wax ring and that was the end of the problem (still with no new caulk). But I can't figure out where the water came from, even if there had be no old wax ring at all.
Possibly there's a tiny leak in the bowl itself, but I don't see evidence, either from leakage around the base or from a lowering of the water level after a few hours of disuse.
Intriguing problem. And ideas? Maybe something bizarre with air pressure in the vent to the roof.
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I don't blame you if you don't believe this. If I hadn't seen it personally, I wouldn't either. Here's the situation.
After 10 years, the caulking around the base of the toilet and the tile floor it sits on started look shabby. So I removed it. Before replacing it, I took a shower. After getting out of the shower, I noticed that the rug in front of the toilet was wet. I thought that maybe one of the two sliding shower doors wasn't fully closed. So I just wiped the floor dry.
Next day, still with no caulk around the base of the toilet, I showered again. Now I could see water oozing out from around the toilet base. The shower nozzle is at the end of a 6' hose, so while standing in front of the toilet I aimed the nozzle directly into the shower drain (about 32 inches away), hoping to see water seep out from the toilet base. That didn't happen.
Next, I removed the toilet and again aimed the nozzle directly into the shower drain, for longer than it takes me to shower. By listening at the toilet drain, I could hear the water running out the shower drain, but no water was visible at the toilet drain.
There is no sluggishness in the shower drain or when the toilet flushes, so I have to rule out a partial blockage past the point both drain merge. Since the house is on a slab, and I only weight 145 pounds, I can't attribute the oozing due to floor deflection when I'm standing in the shower. And there's no seepage when I flush the toilet.
It would appear that the old caulk was damming back the water, but there was no caulk at the back of the toilet because it was too hard to reach that spot. So any dammed water could have escaped at the back.
The old wax ring was still soft and sticky, but there was some black discoloration (maybe mold) at one point. There may have also been a passageway between the inner and outer diameters at this point.
I installed a new wax ring and that was the end of the problem (still with no new caulk). But I can't figure out where the water came from, even if there had be no old wax ring at all.
Possibly there's a tiny leak in the bowl itself, but I don't see evidence, either from leakage around the base or from a lowering of the water level after a few hours of disuse.
Intriguing problem. And ideas? Maybe something bizarre with air pressure in the vent to the roof.
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Sorry this got posted a second time.
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wrote:

Seems to me it was just a leaky wax ring. I mean, it stopped when you installed a new ring. You proved by testing that the shower water wasn't backing up in the waste stack. You noticed no condensation. Flushing the toilet repeatedly should have a part of the test. Water doesn't always act like you might suppose. Little obstructions and service tension can make the flow vary. Even atmospheric pressure can play a role. No telling why it decided to flow out from under the toilet when it did. But the new wax ring stopped it.
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On Sunday, August 4, 2013 7:53:29 PM UTC-7, Rebel1 wrote:

1.    Check your vent. That’s that black pipe sticking out from the roof, to see it it’s clear. 2.    Why do you have caulk around your toilet?
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On 8/5/2013 1:09 AM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I'll haul out the ladder and check. (Easy to do since it's a ranch house.)

The caulk was strictly cosmetic, but now that I still haven't replaced it after four days (because my gun is over a friend's house), maybe I'll just not bother to do so. It look okay the way it it, and the guest bathroom doesn't have any caulk and looks okay.
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Rebel:
The water you saw and wiped up was condensation.
People generally use the washroom immediately before having a shower or bath.
And, people generally flush the toilet after using it, thereby filling the toilet tank with cold water.
Then, they proceed with their shower or bath, thereby filling the bathroom air with humidity.
That humidity condenses on the cold toilet tank and causes the toilet tank to sweat. That water drips off the tank onto the floor, or runs down the outside of the toilet bowl, primarily at the back of the bowl. The result is condensation dripping onto your floor, and I expect that condensation was simply dammed from leaking out because of the caulk.
When you removed the caulk, you allowed that dammed up water under the tank to escape. It might not all have been from the shower you just had. It might have been water that had been dammed up for weeks.
Try having a shower without using THAT toilet. Use a different toilet in your house, or one in a restaurant or gas station.
Do you have any "leakage" from the toilet tank after showering? If not, then it wasn't water leakage to begin with. It was condensation.
Alternatively, do exactly the same thing you did last time, and upon finding water at the front of the toilet, check the bottom of your toilet tank for condensation.
Also: You said:

>

>

The very fact that the water you wiped up ran to the FRONT of the toilet shows that your floor does slope slightly downward toward the front of the toilet. So, any water dammed up by that caulk couldn't run out the back of the toilet, cut water doesn't run uphill.
PS: I own a small apartment block, and I regularily get tenants telling me their toilet must be leaking because they find water on the floor around the toilet. When I inquire further, they tell me that they had a shower or bath before discovering the water. So, I just tell them to use a mirror to check the underside of their toilet tank the next time that happens.
--
nestork


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Rebel:
Also, you should know that floor tiles are set individually, and by hand, and so it's normal for them to not all be exactly the same height. Most of the time that's not a problem because the elevation differences aren't enough to trip over. But, they can be enough to cause a toilet bowl to rock a little.
Consequently, it's common for tile setters to jam coins under the toilet bowl to prevent that rocking OR caulk around the base of the bowl to minimize movement of the bowl. The caulk around the front of your bowl was very possibly put there by the people who tiled the floor to prevent the bowl from rocking.
Really, the place to caulk is around the toilet floor flange and to caulk up any holes in the floor flange itself. That way, if your wax seal leaks, the water won't leak into the floor to cause wood rot or water damage to the ceiling below. It'll leak out onto the floor beside the toilet to alert you of a leaking wax seal.
A caulk called Kop-R-Lastic sticks well to both ABS and PVC floor flanges. Both Kop-R-Lastic and Stone Mason Gutter & Siding Sealant are exactly the same caulk being sold in different tubes by the same manufacturer. In Canada, both products are made by the U.S.E. Hickson Company and in the US, both are made by the Henrys company. In Canada, Home Depot sells Stone Mason Gutter & Siding Sealant, but only in the area of the store where they sell evestroughing materials; not in their painting area. Also, Kop-R-Lastic can be ordered in about 10 different colours, but Home Depot only sells Stone Mason Gutter & Siding Sealant in white and clear. Use this stuff to caulk around your toilet floor flange the next time you take the toilet off.
Stone Mason Gutter & Siding Sealant is my favouritest caulk. It sticks well right away, so that it has good ADhesion to building materials, but over the course of the next three to five years, the synthetic rubber molecules in it crosslink with each other, making it a bit stiffer, but raising it's COhesive strength above it's adhesive strength. That means it sticks to itself even better than it sticks to common construction materials. That's a real advantage because if you ever want to remove the stuff, you just get one end of it started, and it pulls off like a rubber rope. It is hard to pull it off, but it pulls off cleanly, making the job of re-caulking very much faster and easier because completely removing the old caulk only takes a minute. I won't use any other caulk on the 66 windows in my building because with this stuff, insufficient adhesion is never a problem, but removing it when you want/need to is a breeze.
--
nestork


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On Mon, 5 Aug 2013 07:43:45 +0200, nestork

I really doubt it. After a single flush the water will not be all that colds to condense that much moisture. I think he'd have seen the tank sweating too.
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Thanks nestork for both your messages. You presented possibilities I hadn't considered.
The floor is fairly level. Using a 2' level with one end on the floor at the back of the bowl, the front end is about 1/8" (a nickle plus a penny) lower. So yes, there is a slight tilt. I laid the 8" tiles over a concrete slab 10 years ago; don't remember caulking to prevent rocking, but merely as a cosmetic touch.
(As an aside, parts of this house are way out of square, but you can't see it. For example, I placed one end of a 4' level against the wall just above the base molding held it vertically. The wall at the top of the level is a full 3/4 inch away!)
Your comments about humidity and condensation are possibilities. I do use the toilet before showering, but I don't remember seeing any sweating on the outside of the bowl or tank, just seepage at the floor. It's very possible that the water had been accumulated days or even weeks before I removed the caulk. It's been very humid here in New Jersey for well over a week. That could also explain the black stuff (mold?) on the old ring.
One flaw in this theory: When I first removed the caulk, any dammed water should have drained right away, and not waited until I showered, which was some time (maybe hours) later. Next day I took a shower and the same seepage occurred during the shower. If I had thought of the things you suggested, I would have waited another day before taking a third shower. But after the second instance, I just removed the bowl and replaced the wax.
So far, without replacing the caulk, there is no seepage. The humidity is very comfortable these days, but I'll watch for condensation in the upcoming weeks. I could have missed seeing it if it formed at the back of the tank and dribbled onto the slightly sloping floor and then under bowl via the uncaulked back.
Again, thanks for your replies.
R1
On 8/5/2013 1:43 AM, nestork wrote:

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Slight tilt?
I certainly wouldn't call a 1/8" drop in 2 feet "fairly level".
Stolen without permission from http://www.nachi.org/forum/f18/floor-slope-68633/
"The "Residential Construction Performance Guidelines for Professional Builders and Remodelers", Third Edition, by the National Association of Home Builders allows that a floor should not slope more than 1/2" in 20 feet."
If the slope you measured in that 2 foot space is consistent across the room, then you'd be down 1/2" in only 8’. That's definitely not "fairly level".
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On 8/5/2013 11:32 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

I didn't know what the standard was, so it seemed reasonable to me. FWIW, the distance from the wall behind the tank to the opposite one is 54 inches.
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Rebel1;3102567 Wrote: >

>

The "standard" is that the floor be built with no intentional slope to it.
Your floor, just like mine, is "standard".
--
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Didn't you have window closing problems that I thought might be related to settling?
Have you checked the input connection through the tank wall?. If that leaks it can work it way down to the base of the toilet quite easily.
I just put a level on my shower drain pipe (about a 6' run) and found that it's negatively pitched. The huge cast iron waste stack that it's connected to apparently held its ground as the house settled around it. That slowed caused the shower drain pitch to go towards zero inches per foot and causes it to clog up regularly. The fix eludes me. )-:
--
Bobby G.



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Robert Green;3102423 Wrote:

If push comes to shove, you can have the shower drain pipe empty into a large plastic barrel (with cover to reduce humidity) and have a sump pump (or even a sewage pump) in that barrel pumping the water into the same place in the stack.
My understanding of the difference between a sump pump and a sewage pump is that a sewage pump has two stages, both driven by the same motor shaft. The first stage has blades that slice and dice everything, and the second stage just has an ordinary impeller. So, the blades turn any solids to mush and toilet paper into confetti so that they don't clog the typically smaller piping they're being pumped through. Both are made to be submersible.
--
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Gack! That would be pretty awkward in this tiny house.

I think cutting two inches out of the main waste stack or lifting the tub are the only practical options here. Except for continuing the plunging regimen. It builds strong arm muscles. (-:
--
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I have no idea if this will work but I'll toss it out anyway.
What if you installed a trap right where the drain enters the stack, with the input lower than the output. Do you think you could get enough slope in the drain pipe to push the water up and out the trap?
Perhaps there's a balance somewhere between the zero slope you have now and whatever amount of slope it takes, combined with a small trap at the end, to keep the water flowing enough to reduce the clogs.
Sounds weird, and I'd wonder what the heck was going on if I saw something like that, but maybe it would work.
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DerbyDad03;3102473 Wrote: >

> something

I don't believe that anyone's plumbing code would be so accomodating as to allow you to put your p-trap at whichever end of the drain pipe you prefer.
Also, you'd no longer be able to clear that 6 foot drain with a snake cuz all the crap you scrape off the inside of the drain pipe would end up settling to the bottom o the P-trap and clogging it up.
--
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I'm not suggesting moving the trap...I'm suggesting adding a trap at the end near the stack, just enough to add some slope to the existing pipe.
Fernco fittings would make cleaning that section of pipe very easy.
You snipped a major portion of my post, including the part where I said that my suggestion might not even work, so I'm just adding that back in so everyone knows that it was just a brainstorming idea on how to add some slope to the pipe without having to change the connection at the stack
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DerbyDad03;3102540 Wrote: >

> so

Your suggestion WILL work, just do what you're thinking at the upstream end of the drain pipe, where the existing trap is.
Re-read my previous post. I changed it when I realized that you could do what you were thinking, but you could only do it at the upstream end.
--
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