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Reuben Saltzman

Caulk At The Toilet Base: Hiding A Problem Or Preventing A Problem?

As standard procedure for every home inspection that I perform, I check the toilets to make sure they’re properly anchored to the floor.  Almost every time I find a toilet that’s loose, I also find missing caulk at the base of the toilet.  The two go hand in hand.

Toilet Loose at floor When I find a loose toilet I tell my client to properly secure the toilet to the floor and to caulk around the base of the toilet, but I frequently get clients that tell me they’ve heard otherwise.

The thought process behind not caulking the toilet to the floor is that if the toilet leaks at the floor, you’ll quickly find out about the leak as long as the toilet isn’t caulked.  If it is caulked, the thinking is that if the toilet flange leaks, you’ll end up trapping water between the toilet base and the floor in an area that you can’t access.

In reality, toilets rarely leak onto the floor.  More often, they leak through the floor around the flange.  I’ve found plenty of toilets that leak down into the basement, but very few that leak onto the bathroom floor.

There are two great reasons to caulk your toilet to the floor:

  • Caulk prevents a fouling area.  If mop water, tub water, or something even worse (I have a son who is potty training right now…) gets underneath the toilet, there is no way to clean it up.  Caulking around the base of the toilet prevents this from happening.
  • Caulk helps to keep the toilet secured to the floor.  As I mentioned before, toilets that are caulked at the floor are rarely loose.  Caulk does such as good job of keeping toilets secured to the floor that you could probably rely on caulk alone to keep a toilet secured… not that I would try this.

Some people prefer to caulk all around the toilet and leave about a one inch gap in the caulk at the back of the toilet to allow water to escape out in the event of a leak.  It’s already tough enough to caulk behind a toilet, so if this is what you want to do, God bless.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – Email – Minnesota Home Inspector

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No responses to “Caulk At The Toilet Base: Hiding A Problem Or Preventing A Problem?”

  1. Milind Angolkar
    July 6, 2010, 7:08 am

    Great post…clears air on a common bone of contention. “…or something even worse.”, also reminds me of a few college pranks related to fouling not appropriate for this blog.

  2. Clinton Rushing
    July 11, 2010, 7:18 pm

    Fist time I’ve heard sound reasoning for such, bravo. Keep up the good posts.

  3. Reuben Saltzman
    July 11, 2010, 7:50 pm

    Hi Clinton, thanks for reading!

  4. MARK COOL
    October 26, 2010, 3:45 pm

    Good argument. I’m swayed but still not convinced. I’ve repaired bathroom floors where the water didn’t make it to the basement.

  5. Bob Dole
    June 4, 2011, 4:31 pm

    Caulk or grout around the toilet, but leave the rear of the toilet open in case there is a leak, you’ll see it.

  6. Becky
    December 13, 2012, 4:27 pm

    If the toilet is leaking onto the floor (just a little bit when it’s sat on), does that mean I need a new flange, or simply recaulking?

  7. Reuben Saltzman
    December 13, 2012, 4:32 pm

    Becky – start with a new wax ring at the floor. Definitely don’t caulk it.

  8. Becky
    December 13, 2012, 5:46 pm

    Thanks Reuben!! I’m definitely bookmarking your site! Very helpful!

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