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Install & Replace

Detecting and Repairing leaks

A few month ago, we had a leak through the living room ceiling which we think it came from the upstairs bathroom toilet. We stopped using the toilet and the leak stopped. Now we're ready to repair it. Any suggestions on how to proceed?


Thank you.

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Posted 2011-01-08T00:27:29+0000  by 10isetjardin 10isetjardin

Greetings 10isetjardin,

It sounds like you have a few areas that need attention here. I’m going to tackle the ceiling repair. My teammate aboveaveragejoe is going to go over how to fix the toilet, so look for that post soon.


When assessing the ceiling situation, you will need to decide how bad the damage is. When you look at the ceiling is it sagging or swollen where the leak was? If yes, you will need to replace the drywall in that area. Click here for a link on how to replace the drywall on the ceiling.


Make sure you check for mold before you put up the new drywall. If mold is present we sell a product called Concrobium that will kill the mold and prevent it from coming back. Click here for information on this product. You will also want to look at your insulation. If it is wet you will have to replace the insulation in the area.


If drywall seems to be intact, the only thing you have to do is touch up around the water stain. 


I’m going to assume that the ceiling is dry, since it’s been a few months since you used the toilet.  You will need to seal the stain using a primer. J At The Home Depot we sell a few products that will work for you.

First there is the Kilz upshot. Here is a picture:




The product has a special spray head on it that is specific for sealing ceilings. Click here for the product information on this primer.


If using a spray primer doesn’t appeal to you, you can also use either shellac or oil based primer, such as one of these shown below:




Click here for information about the shellac primer and here for the oil based primer.


Make sure you move out as much furniture as you can from the area below and cover with plastic anything that you can't move. There will inevitably be splatter. 


After the primer of your choosing has dried it is time to paint! Is the ceiling painted white or a different color? If it is white, do you know what brand of paint it was?


Let me tell you a little something about white. Every paint company has their own straight-off-the-shelf- white. If you don’t know what brand was used it may be best to cut a 1” x 1” square from the ceiling and have your paint associate do a color match. I would definitely recommend doing this if your ceilings have any other color than white on them. Most of the time, people use flat on their ceilings, but do compare it to the other sheens just to make sure.           

If you have any other questions about ceiling repair don’t hesitate to ask!


Good luck with this and replacing the toilet!


Posted 2011-01-08T18:49:09+0000  by Christine_HD_ATL

Hey there 10isetjardin,


I'm here to follow up on the great post that ChristineClaret already helped you on regarding your ceiling, I'm here to discuss that leaky toilet that started this whole conundrum.  Before we can get into anything specific, we need to assess what's making the toilet fail in the first place. 


Do you notice a small pool of water where your toilet meets the floor? Does the floor around the toilet feel spongy? Is the finished flooring coming up? If so, you probably have a bad seal between the toilet horn (where the waste exits) and the drain line. Don't wait any longer. Small leaks trapped beneath the toilet will eventually rot floor surfaces, and even the underlying framing. Unfortunately, we know its reached the room below, after using the steps that Christine posted previously, you should have that ceiling below as good as new. Wait too long and repair costs rise, especially when you figure in replacing finished flooring or worse....


We'll need to diagnose the problem of the leaky toilet. Since the leak stopped after using it, lets start first by checking the toilet where it meets the floor, you'll have to shut off the water supply valve and remove the water line leading to the tank  first. After turning off the valve and flushing the toilet, look in the tank and listen for trickling water. If the water is still running, you'll have to shut off the main water valve in the house and replace the valve with a new one. Sponge out the excess water from the tank and stool. Then it's time to loosen the water closet nuts. If the water closet nuts and bolts are corroded or the bolt spins along with the nuts, it's easiest to just cut them off with a hacksaw


After the toilet is off, look for any imperfections or damage to the wax ring, but first place a rag into the drain line to keep sewer gases out of the house and chunks of wax from entering the piping while you clean. Scrape all the old wax from around the toilet horn and toilet flange with a putty knife. Clean the floor under and around the toilet of old caulk and debris to ensure a level fit when you reinstall the toilet. A toilet flange that's been leaking can cause the floor to rot, the flange to loosen and the leak to get worse. You'll have to track down the cause of the leak, fix it and then provide a solid surface that supports the flange. If you have any issues regarding the subfloor being severly damaged or connections, this would be the time to fix it. Not doing so, would create the same, if not a larger problem further down the road. Let us know on the community here in picture or via descriptions your situation of the subfloor.


At this stage you have several options to check for to see where the leak is coming from:


  1. A broken flange, usually on the outside of the slot that holds the toilet flange bolt 
  2. A flange that's too low. That includes any flange that's more than 1/4 in. below the finished floor 
  3. Rot around the toilet flange 
  4. Simple wax ring failure. If nothing appears to be wrong, resetting the toilet with a new wax ring might be the only thing you need to do (fingers crossed :manvery-happy:)
After going through those, see if that solves your problem regarding the toilet. You should have a working bathroom again in no time. Thanks again for the great question and we hope to see you again!



Posted 2011-01-08T19:25:34+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
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