Reuben's Home Inspection Blog

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Caulk At The Toilet Base: Hiding 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 on to the the floor.  More often, they leak through the floor around the flange.  I've found plenty of toilets that leak down in to the basement, but very few that leak on to 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

        

Comment balloon 14 commentsReuben Saltzman • July 06 2010 07:38AM

Comments

Oh yuck!  You had me at reason number 1!!!!!  I have a son - I won't go further!  ;)  Thanks for this explanation Reuben and it makes perfect sense! 

Wake Forest NC House Chick

 

Posted by Leesa Finley, RED Properties - Raleigh NC Real Estate (RED Properties) about 8 years ago

Thanks for your tips. Have a great week.

 Blooming in Maryland.

Posted by Roy Kelley, Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs (Realty Group Referrals) about 8 years ago

Thanks Reuben, it makes a lot of sense. We check ours about once a year.

Posted by Bill Travis, Broker/Owner (Captain Bill Realty, LLC) about 8 years ago

Thanks for the information. I wondered about this and I will check mine out to see if they need some help.

Posted by Diane Williams about 8 years ago

Reuben, good post.  I always opted for the leaving a little bit a the back open----even though I do agree it doesn't matter that much.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 8 years ago

Hi Reuben, I also an advocate of make sure the caulking is in place.  I do like Charles idea of small gap at the back of the pedestal where no fouled liquid is likely to travel.  

Posted by Dale Ganfield about 8 years ago

Leesa - I guess you know exactly what I'm talking about :)

Roy - thanks, you too.

Bill - if that's so, you're doing better than most.

Diane - it won't take long.

Charles - and it's just about impossibly to get a nice bead of caulk back there anyway. 

Dale - I also meant to mention that it was required by code, but I couldn't find a reference in the MN State Plumbing Code.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

I was told a tip to caulk the toilet and leave the the back unchaulked.  That way the toilet is secured and water has somewhere to leak in the rare event it does leak onto the floor.

Aaron

Posted by Aaron Silverman, Improving Real Estate Experience through Education (SuccessfulRental.com, Bluewater Property Management, LLC and Lowcountry Turnkey Properties, LLC) about 8 years ago

Aaron - In that case, God bless :)

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

Sounds like a plan.  I always thought to leave mine uncaulked but have to think about it now.

Posted by Gene Allen, Realty Consultant for Cary Real Estate (Fathom Realty) about 8 years ago

Rueben,

I vote for the caulk around the toilet and the small opening at the back.  I think things stay a lot cleaner with a small bead of caulk around the front and sides.

Richard Acree

HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC

http://habitecinspections.com

Posted by Robert Dirienzo, Home Inspections - Nashville TN (HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Rueben,

I vote for the caulk around the toilet and the small opening at the back.  I think things stay a lot cleaner with a small bead of caulk around the front and sides.

Richard Acree

HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC

http://habitecinspections.com

Posted by Robert Dirienzo, Home Inspections - Nashville TN (HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Rueben,

I vote for the caulk around the toilet and the small opening at the back.  I think things stay a lot cleaner with a small bead of caulk around the front and sides.

Richard Acree

HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC

http://habitecinspections.com

Posted by Robert Dirienzo, Home Inspections - Nashville TN (HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Gene - have you fixed it yet?

Richard - that's exactly how mine is.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

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