Toilet wax rings are a connection point between a toilet fixture and drain pipes. They are one-time-use, in the sense that they most likely need to be replaced every time a toilet is unbolted from the floor. The drain pipe simply ends with a designated flange piece that sits flush with the floor. Flanges act like a funnel, directing water from the toilet into the drain pipe. They also hold bolts which will secure the toilet in place. Unlike a sink drain pipe, the toilet does not have components which can tighten pipes together for a secure fitting. So, if you just set a toilet over your drain pipe, it is likely some water would leak out of the connection. Because you cannot fasten the drain outlet from the toilet to the drain pipe in your floor like a sink drain would – we need a way to prevent water leaks from damaging the floor and leaking unsanitary water across the bathroom.
Here comes the wax ring! It is exactly that simple. A donut shaped ring of wax goes between the toilet and the drain flange. You set a toilet on top and wax conforms to fill any offsets or gaps in the span between toilet and flange. In a low pressure drain system, this is all we need. Water from the toilet only has one place to go with a wax ring blocking any gaps – down the drain. Whether you remove your toilet to replace flooring in the bathroom, update to a low-flow toilet, or have a professional work on your drain lines – the wax ring should be replaced to ensure a proper connection in the future.
Too Long, Didn't Read Version: Wax rings prevent leaks in your toilet, just as screw-on fittings prevent leaks in sink pipes.
-Marshall Tramp, CPI, RMP
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