Can Plunging a Toilet Damage the Wax Ring?

The wax ring provides a watertight seal between the sewer pipe and the toilet. It can last for decades if it is in good condition and well cared for. However, it can easily be damaged by improper flushing.

If you notice water on the floor around the toilet or an unpleasant odor coming from the toilet after the flush, it’s time to replace the wax ring.

Changing Toilet Wax Ring

Here are the steps to replace a wax ring:

  1. Shut off the water to the toilet by turning the valve on the wall behind the toilet.
  2. Flush the toilet bowl and remove water from the toilet bowl and tank.
  3. Remove the water supply from the back of the toilet bowl.
  4. Remove the caps from the screws and remove the nuts.
  5. Remove the old wax ring and flange.
  6. Remove all traces of the wax ring from the floor, drain, and toilet bowl with a scraper.
  7. Install the new wax ring under the toilet bowl or in the drain (depending on the instructions on the package).
  8. Reinstall the toilet bowl, aligning the holes with the bolts.
  9. Tighten the nuts and be careful not to overtighten them.
  10. Connect the plumbing to the toilet bowl.
  11. Turn on the water and check the toilet.

Replacing a wax ring is a relatively easy task that anyone can do in a few hours.

In this article, you will find information about toilet wax ring failures and how to avoid them.

What is a Wax Ring?

A wax ring is a type of seal that is used to prevent water leaks in plumbing fixtures. Wax rings are most commonly used in toilets, but can also be used in other types of plumbing fixtures such as sinks and showers.

They work by making a water-tight seal between the plumbing fixture and the drain pipe.

Wax rings are made from a combination of beeswax and paraffin wax, and are available in different sizes to fit different types of plumbing fixtures.

Types of wax rings for toilets

There are several types of wax rings on the market, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages:

  • The most common type of wax ring is the basic wax ring. These rings are made from a donut-shaped piece of wax and only cost a few dollars. They are easy to install and work well if your flange is at least 1/4 inch off the floor. However, if you need to reinstall your toilet, you will have to clean out the old wax ring and replace it.
  • A wax ring with a sleeve is a good choice for flanges that are 1/4 inch below to 1/4 inch above the floor. These rings have a bushing that prevents the wax from shifting during and after installation.
  • Wax felt rings are commonly used for urinals and other wall fixtures. The felt prevents the wax from shifting during and after installation.
  • Sponge pads are also a good choice for wall fixtures. The name is misleading – many sponge gaskets are made of hard rubber or silicone, which remain elastic for decades.
  • Waxless gaskets are made of the same hard material as rubber, but they are flanged with a deep seal, making them ideal for floor installation. In addition, the waxless gasket can be reinstalled many times.
  • Wax-free foam gaskets are made of soft foam that is more flexible than the rubber gaskets listed above. They can be laid multiple times if your flange is installed deep in the field. And one foam gasket is suitable for flanges installed from 3/8 inch below to 3/8 inch above the floor. Like other wax-free gaskets, foam gaskets can be reused.

Toilet wax ring vs waxless

There are two types of wax rings for toilets: wax and waxless. Both types provide a seal between the toilet and the drainpipe, but they work in different ways.

Wax rings are made of, well, wax. They’re soft and pliable, so they can create a tight seal around the drainpipe.

Waxless rings, on the other hand, are made of a harder material, like rubber. They rely on a tight fit to create the seal, rather than the flexibility of wax.

So, which is better? It depends on your needs.

If you need a quick, easy, and effective way to seal your toilet, then a wax ring is the way to go. They’re inexpensive and easy to install.

Waxless rings, on the other hand, are a bit more expensive. But, they’re also more durable and resistant to leaks. If you have a problem with your toilet leaking, then a waxless ring is a good choice.

Finally, it comes down to personal preference. If you’re not sure which type of wax ring to choose, then ask a plumber for advice.

Will a bad wax ring cause the toilet not to flush?

If you have a bad wax ring, it can cause your toilet to not flush properly. This is because the wax ring creates a seal between the toilet and the sewer line. If the seal is not intact, then water can leak out and pool around your toilet. This can damage your subfloor and require additional repairs.

How Plunging a Toilet Damages the Wax Ring

How Plunging a Toilet Damages the Wax Ring

There are several reasons why the wax ring can be damaged.

First, if the clog is in front of the wax ring, the force will be directed straight down the drain and will not damage the wax ring.

However, if the clog is after the wax ring, the force created by the plunger can damage the ring.

Second, when you plunge, you squeeze the plunger down, which does not create much pressure and will not damage the ring. But if you pull it outward, it can stretch the wax and damage it.

Third, if you constantly push and pull the plunger, you can damage the wax ring over time.

Finally, rubber or foam materials are more resistant to force and can quickly regain their shape.

However, wax materials do not have this resilience and can be damaged every time the plunger is pulled, resulting in serious leakage.

How to Plunge Toilet Without Damaging Wax Ring

If you want to plunge your toilet without damaging the wax ring, you should first focus on dislodging the clog rather than forcing it downwards.

To do this, place the plunger’s bulb on the side of the inner bowl so that part of its surface touches the top of the water. Then, gently push it downwards.

This won’t exert any force on the wax ring as you’re pushing against the side of the toilet and not the drain pipe where the wax ring is.

When the plunger retracts slightly, bring it to the toilet opening and pull upward with a jerk. It is necessary to repeat this movement until the clog will not come out.

The force acting on the wax ring is directed inward toward the center, which will not damage it in any way.

Plunger Alternative

Try one of these alternate methods for unclogging your toilet:

  • Hot water: Pour a pot of hot water into the toilet bowl and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. Flush the toilet several times to see if the clog has been dislodged. But use only hot water, not boiling water. Because if your toilet is made of porcelain, boiling water can crack it badly.
  • Vinegar and baking soda: Mix 1 cup of vinegar with 1 tablespoon of baking soda and pour it into the toilet bowl. Let it sit for a few minutes, then flush the toilet several times.
  • Dish soap: Pour a generous amount of dish soap into the toilet bowl and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. Flush the toilet several times to see if the clog has been dislodged.
  • Clothes hanger: Straighten out a wire clothes hanger and carefully insert it into the toilet bowl. Twirl it around to see if you can catch the clog and pull it out.
  • Toilet auger: If you have a toilet auger, insert it into the toilet bowl and turn it on. The auger will spin and hopefully break up the clog so it can be flushed away.


What would cause a toilet wax ring to fail?

There are several things that could cause a toilet wax ring to fail. If the toilet is not installed correctly, the wax ring can be damaged. Plunging a toilet can also damage the wax ring. Another cause is that the flange is not level, which can cause the wax ring to fail.

Finally, if the toilet is not used for a long period of time, the wax ring can dry out and fail.

How can you know if your toilet wax ring is broken?

The most common sign that the toilet bowl wax ring has failed is when water begins to leak from the base of the toilet bowl.

Another sign to look out for: is an unpleasant lingering odor in the bathroom caused by escaping sewer gas.

If you suspect that the wax ring has failed, it is best to replace it as soon as possible to avoid further damage to your home.

How often should the wax ring on the toilet be replaced?

Most experts recommend replacing the wax ring on a toilet every few years, just to be safe. Some say that you can get away with replacing it every five years or so, but it really depends on how often the toilet is used and how well it is maintained.

If you notice that your toilet is leaking, it’s probably time to replace the wax ring.

Bottom Line

When it comes to toilets, the wax ring is one of the most important components. This ring creates a seal between the toilet and the drain pipe, which prevents sewer gases and water from leaking into your home.

If you are not careful when plunging a toilet, you can damage the wax ring, which can cause the toilet to leak. It is important to use the plunger correctly to avoid damaging the wax ring.

Have you had any problems with the wax ring? Share your answers in the comments.

Gerald Carpenter

My name is Gerald Carpenter and I am a professional plumber in the third generation. My father was a plumber, my grandfather was a plumber. I wish I had records on my other ancestors.

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