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Toilet Odor (previously vacant house)

We purchased a house that sat vacant for about 8 months. The house was winterized (red anti-freeze in the toilet). There is a gross smell coming from the toilet. The tank has been bleached and cleaned; the bowl has been bleached and cleaned.

Hubby and I decided that some bacteria probably built up in the channels *between* the tank and bowl. I put a bleach & blue tablet in the tank, and the smell has reduced, but it is still quite gross.

Do you agree with our theory of *why* there is a nasty smell? How can we get rid of the nasty smell? Thank you!

FYI - this is the only toilet in our house so it used constantly.

A. Spruce
Re: Toilet Odor (previously vacant house)

It is possible that the seal at the base of the toilet has failed, allowing odor and leakage. A new wax ring is easy to install.

Purchase a new wax ring with new hold down bolts. Add to this four 1/4" washers and four 1/4" nuts. If the hold down bolts on the existing toilet do not have caps, buy yourself a set of caps too. I personally like the kind that "snap" into place over a plastic washer as opposed to the kind that use a dab of caulk to hold them. You will also likely want some white or almond caulk, depending on the color of the toilet. I also like wax rings that have the built in flange, it helps to keep everything going exactly where it's supposed to.

1 - Turn off water supply, flush toilet, disconnect water supply line. Have a rag and catch basin handy for residual water in the line.
2 - Plunge the toilet bowl to remove as much water as possible.
3 - Remove the existing hold down nuts. What I like to do is to lift the toilet off and set it into a garbage bag, then lift the toilet over into the bathtub or shower and gently set it onto its back. This gives you access to the bottom to clean and prepare for the new wax seal.
4 - Once the toilet base is clean, stand the toilet up and lay it back down a few times to remove the water still in the goose neck, and dry the base off. The toilet is now ready to reset.
5 - Clean the toilet flange that is in the floor off. Remove as much of the old wax ring and debris as possible, finish by wiping with paper towels.
6 - Assess whether you need to change the hold down bolts, odds are you do. Good thing you picked up a new set. ;):D When you install the new bolts, slide the bolt into the retainer hole, then add a washer and tighten a nut down. This will hold the bolts perfectly straight and in place while you set the toilet. This is a much better method than relying on the typical plastic washer that comes with most hold down bolt kits.
7 - Place your new wax ring onto the prepared flange.
8 - Set the toilet in place by grabbing the toilet bowl just behind the toilet seat. Rest your elbows on your thighs and you can easily maneuver the toilet into place. Line up the bolts with the holes in the base of the toilet and gently set the toilet down, keeping it as level as possible and perpendicular to the wall. Gently shimmy the toilet in your hands to set it down into the wax ring.
9 - Once the toilet is fully resting on the floor, you can adjust its alignment with the floor/wall.
10 - Place the base disk for the bolt caps over the hold down bolts, followed by a washer and then the nut.
11 - Tighten the nuts just until the toilet no longer moves when you try to twist it. Vinyl floors are forgiving to over tightening the nuts, tile floors can break the toilet if over tightened. Use toilet shims if necessary to prevent rocking.
12 - Hook up your water supply, turn on the water, check for leaks both at the supply and around the base of the toilet.
13 - Many jurisdictions require caulking to be applied to the base of the toilet. I personally do not like the look of this, unless there is a substantial gap that needs to be covered. Functionally, if there is a leak, you will know it if there is no caulk.

Re: Toilet Odor (previously vacant house)

Spruce really got out of his way to explain how to install a new wax ring and there is not much to add, except: if your base flange is a bit too low in relation to the floor, you may need a larger wax ring or two stacked together. You can also try Sani flush wax ring.

Re: Toilet Odor (previously vacant house)

The smell is only in the bowl (not around or near the toilet). The smell did improve some when I put the bleach & blue tablet in the tank. Still think it's the wax ring? This was replaced about a month ago . . .

A. Spruce
Re: Toilet Odor (previously vacant house)

You didn't mention that the seal had been replaced. That being the case, the seal is probably not the problem at this point.

I think I would be inclined to pull the toilet and disassemble it so that I could get into it more easily for cleaning and sanitizing. Obviously there is something trapped within it that is causing the odor and it's probably trapped in the upper rim of the bowl where the holes are.

If you take the toilet outside, you can remove the tank and stand the bowl up on its end and back flush through those holes in the rim, possibly wash out whatever debris is causing the odor. Once you're certain that is clean, you can wrap the bowl upside down in a large garbage bag with a bleach solution. You'd need enough solution to purge the air out of the holes around the rim and get into the inner passages of the toilet.

If all this sounds like too much effort, your only other option is to replace the toilet.

Re: Toilet Odor (previously vacant house)

Augh - this DOES sound like a lot of work . . . however, it also sounds like it will work. Thank you for the idea! I think we'll replace this toilet, bleach it and save it for when we put in our second bathroom (within 6 months). THANK YOU!!!

A. Spruce
Re: Toilet Odor (previously vacant house)

You're welcome, good luck, and let us know how it goes.:cool:

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