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The Cost To Replace a Toilet Wax Ring (DIY vs. Plumber)

This article will dive into the costs associated with replacing a toilet wax ring and cover its vital role in every bathroom. I’ll also take you through the practicalities of hiring a professional to get the job done versus doing the job yourself.

The cost to replace a toilet wax ring ranges from $10 (if you do it yourself) to $45-$200 (the hourly rate of a plumber). It’s tempting to take on the job yourself, as you’ll eliminate most additional expenses. However, if you want to ensure the job is done correctly, it’s best to contact an expert.

Below , you’ll find some comparative information on the cost of hiring a plumber to replace your toilet wax ring, depending on your area. Note that it takes around 2-3 hours to replace a toilet wax ring.

LocationAverage Cost Per HourTotal Cost (assuming work gets done within 3 hours)
New York$72$216
San Diego$97$291

Signs That You Need To Replace Your Toilet Wax Ring

Plumber installing a new toilet wax ring

Your toilet wax ring usually lasts as long as your toilet does. As long as it is properly installed, you won’t have to worry about it, except when you replace your toilet. You should always get rid of the old toilet wax ring and reapply a fresh one whenever you replace your toilet. A good, properly installed toilet usually lasts about 50 years

However, there are certain instances when a toilet wax ring replacement is necessary. If the toilet is still in good condition, you can simply lift it off to get to the wax underneath. Here are some possible reasons why you might need to replace your toilet wax ring:

  • Uneven application when the toilet was first installed.
  • Toilet wax ring thickness was not sufficient to effectively seal the space.
  • The toilet flange is too thick for the toilet wax ring that was used. 
  • Your bathroom floor is always wet, causing the wax to turn spongy.

A damaged toilet wax ring is pretty easy to recognize. Here are some telltale signs to watch out for:

  • Continuous leak. Water and other elements may continuously leak out from the gaps between the toilet and the toilet flange.
  • Rocking toilet. If your toilet moves when you push or sit on it, the toilet wax ring may be compromised. It can no longer hold the toilet and the flange tightly together. 
  • Mold growth. Furry, greenish-black growth covers the area where your toilet meets the bathroom floor. Mold grows when there is a combination of moisture, poor circulation, and organic matter.
  • Unpleasant smell. The lingering, foul odor in your bathroom may be from the nasty substances leaking onto your bathroom floor. The stench could also be seeping in from the drainage pipe.

How Much Would It Cost To Replace a Toilet Wax Ring?

A standard toilet wax ring costs no more than $10. You can do the repairs yourself if you are sufficiently knowledgeable and experienced in bathroom fixture issues. However, if you lack the skills to get the job done the first time around, it would be best to seek an expert’s help. 

Replacing Your Toilet Wax Ring – DIY Approach

You should replace your toilet wax ring yourself only if you have extensive knowledge and experience in doing so. Even then, you might encounter problems along the way that may be too complicated for your skill level. You might create even bigger problems than what you started out with, especially if you would have to resort to abandoning your toilet repair project right in the middle of the process. 

The average cost of a toilet wax ring in the US ranges from $4.24 to $5.21. There are some that are made of plastic or rubber, but wax rings are still preferred since they are cheaper yet reliable. Some wax rings come with a plastic attachment that goes into the drainage pipe to create a tighter seal

Pitfalls To Consider When Replacing Your Toilet Wax Ring 

Replacing a broken toilet wax ring may seem like an easy job. However, remember that you would have to disassemble your entire toilet to gain access to the damaged wax ring and replace it. There may also be other issues that pop up in relation to the damaged wax ring. What could be worse than being right in the middle of your DIY project and stumbling upon snags that are way out of your league?

Here are a few pitfalls to consider before you decide to work on replacing your toilet wax ring yourself:

  • Damaged bathroom floors. You might need to replace your subfloor, bathroom floor, or at least a few tiles since some might have incurred water damage.
  • Corroded toilet flange. Water might have damaged your toilet flange. You need to replace it, so your toilet works properly.  
  • Recessed flange. You may need to install flange extenders if your current toilet flange is too short and thus, cannot function properly. 
  • Damaged toilet. Have you ever considered just how heavy your toilet could be? They are usually made of ceramic and could easily shatter when dropped.

Replacing Your Toilet Wax Ring – Expert Approach

New toilet wax ring next to a toilet on its side

It might seem a lot more expensive to turn to an expert for help when replacing your toilet wax ring, but when you consider the risks involved, it might actually be more cost-effective. You might run into complicated issues along the way. Worse, you might damage essential components or fixtures, especially if you haven’t done something like this before. Furthermore, allowing a professional to take the reins ensures a more aesthetically-pleasing finish.  

Plumbers charge $45-$200 per hour. The rate depends on a few factors, such as:

  • Amount of work to be done. More complicated tasks will call for higher hourly rates. Note that more complex jobs also require a longer time to accomplish, driving the hourly cost even higher. 
  • Location. Plumbers in most urban cities usually charge higher than those in rural areas. Moreover, if there are fewer plumbers in your area, expect to fork out a higher sum than if you were in a location where there are plenty of plumbers vying for the job. 
  • Timing. Emergency cases will cost more than scheduled repairs. Moreover, if you lie in an area where the construction market is bustling, expect to pay more since demand directly affects costs.

Level of Plumbing Expertise

There are 3 levels of plumbing expertise, and the cost of hiring depends on how much experience the plumber has under their belt:

  • Apprentice. An apprentice plumber works with and assists a journeyman or master plumber to gain experience and skills in the different aspects of plumbing. They typically charge $45-$90 per hour.   
  • Journeyman. A journeyman is a fully-trained plumber who has completed an apprenticeship with a master plumber. However, they are not yet qualified to run their own business and hire employees because their skill level is considered intermediate. Journeyman plumbers usually charge $70-$120 per hour. 
  • Master. Extensive experience plus a license are required to be called a master plumber. They typically charge $90-$200 per hour. 

What Exactly Is a Toilet Wax Ring?

A toilet wax ring is a sticky wax forming a loop around the base of your toilet. It creates a watertight seal around the toilet flange. Normally, you don’t have to worry about maintenance, but sometimes, replacement is necessary due to improper installation or premature drying.  

You don’t usually see your toilet wax ring because it is applied at the bottom of your toilet to seal it to the toilet flange. It prevents water from leaking out every time you flush. The toilet flange is what secures your toilet to the floor and connects it to the drainage system. It also prevents leaks from occurring and stops gas and sewer gasses from escaping into your bathroom. 

Final Thoughts

Unless you have extensive knowledge and experience, replacing a toilet wax ring is best done by an expert. The benefits of hiring a professional to get the job done far outweigh the additional expenses you’ll have to take on.

The cost of replacing your toilet wax ring is relatively low, especially compared to the enormous costs of more complicated plumbing jobs. Minimize additional and avoidable expenses by hiring a plumber to get the job done right.

For more, check out 12 Handy Allen Wrench Substitutes.