Last week, my toilet gushed water out between where the bottom of the bowl connects with the toilet drain pipe, while I was flushing it. It was so bad I had to turn off the supply valve before it finished flushing. Long story short, I mopped up and then unplugged the toilet. Ever since then, my 3 1/2 GPF 1977 vintage Colton toilet has worked fine. What baffles me is that when a toilet plugs up, it normally OVERflows over the bowl rim. But this time, it “UNDERflowed”(actually gushed under) between the bottom of the bowl, and the top of the toilet drain pipe, directly onto the bathroom floor. This is bizarre! Doesn’t that mean that the seal between the the bowl and the drain pipe was blown? But if that were the case, why has water not even leaked, (much less gushed) out of there since? I have since stopped putting orange pulp gristle in the bowl as I think that may be what plugged it up.

Also, this is the perfect time for me to get one of those new “low flow” dual flush toilets that only consume 1.6-1.28 GPF to conserve water. I would like to get one with the same footprint that my present toilet (see photo)has, so that I don’t have to re-tile. Does anybody have any recommendations for a new toilet? enter image description here

  • You'll want to measure from the wall to the flange bolts to find the "rough" of your current toilet, which is probably twelve inches though fourteen is also common. (Obviously a 14" toilet won't fit on a 12" rough. A 12" toilet on a 14" rough will have a larger than expected gap between the tank and wall.) Jan 19, 2018 at 1:05
  • I have already determined the “rough in“ as 12 inches. In addition, my existing toilet is 21 1/2 inches from the actual wall(excluding baseboard) to the far forward portion of the bowl, where it meets the floor. And that far forward portion is 8 1/2 inches wide (in a straight line) from one side to the other side.
    – user62948
    Jan 19, 2018 at 4:01

1 Answer 1


You may have a compromised seal between the toilet and the flange (where the toilet connects to your drain piping). This seal is usually done with a wax ring and can deform due to aggressive plunger-ing or movement of the toilet relative to the flange, such as when the bolts are loose and the toilet wobbles.

When your drain is working normally, that seal does not need to do much - the drain pipe is wide open and the easiest place for water to flow is down that drain like we want.

However if the drain pipe is clogged, then liquid may build up against the seal until the clog is removed. This is where you'll see a leak along the floor and/or on the ceiling below. That would be consistent with your story.

You should replace the wax ring. You will have to remove and reattach a toilet, so you're right that if you want to change the toilet this would be a good time to do so. Also, tile usually extends to just around the flange, so you usually don't need to match your existing toilet's footprint.

  • 2
    This does sound like a compromised seal. Another possible cause for that is that the toilet sits too high above the flange. That's often the result of installing a new tile floor, which raises the toilet by the thickness of the tile. The solution for that is also replacing the wax ring, but with a thicker ring. Jan 19, 2018 at 19:02
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    Here’s a clue, the bathroom floor used to have thinner linoleum until five years ago. But in 2013, thicker tile was laid down (which I now believe extends to just around the flange after looking at it again. Now I need not concern myself with the footprint when replacing the toilet...Kudos to Shimon Ruras). Could that somehow cause a toilet bowl/toilet drain pipe connection to go bad?
    – user62948
    Jan 19, 2018 at 22:28
  • Here’s another clue, the water that gushed out between the bottom of the toilet bowl and the drain pipe flange was clean, yet the bowl was full of crap. Why was there no “unholy water“ (pee and fecal matter) on the floor?
    – user62948
    Jan 19, 2018 at 23:20
  • As @PeteBecker mentioned, it's possible the wax ring wasn't adequate after the floor height was raised under the toilet. Even if we can't tell why, it's likely that the wax ring has failed. As for why you didn't detect pee & poop on the floor, that's probably because when you flush a lot of clean water comes down from the toilet tank, and because the leak in your wax ring isn't big enough to let large particles through. It's possible to have a clean water leak from the tank or tank-bowl joint, but that usually involves obvious dripping. Jan 20, 2018 at 3:42

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