Ask Anthony: Toilet Leaks, Winter Heating, and a Visit from Anthony's Mom

Sheri Reed

anthony gilardi

Our main handyman Anthony Gilardi, of HGTV's Myles of Style, is back with answers to your home repair questions today.

Have a home repair question? Ask Anthony your questions in the comments below.

This week, Anthony answers a question about a second floor toilet leak and discusses winter heating a little more. Plus, we hear from Anthony's dear Mom.

Don’t forget to reward yourselves!

Q: Our upstairs bathroom is located directly above the kitchen. We've had problems with a bad toilet seal before, which resulted in water leaking through the floor and kitchen ceiling. My husband removed the toilet and replaced the seal. It seemed to do the trick. No leaks in a while. But recently, we've been getting water again in the same spot. It doesn't happen constantly, just once in a while. I can't believe that the seal would be leaking again so soon. What else could it be? A burst pipe would leak constantly, wouldn't it?

Cafe Cynthia

A: Hi Cynthia. Okay, this is a common problem; however, it could be a few different things. Let’s play a little game I like to call Home Detective. Fact #1: You said your husband removed the toilet and replaced the seal. Fact #2: After not leaking for a while, it began leaking in the same spot. Fact #3: It doesn’t leak constantly.

Possibility #1: Many times when you’ve had toilet seal problems in the past, it leads to “FLANGE” problems. The flange is the circular devise (usually metal) that connects the drain to the toilet bowl with “jonny bolts.” As your husband knows, the wax seal is applied over the flange. Over time, the flange can rust and break down causing cracks. Even with a brand new wax seal, cracks in the flange will cause leaks. It won’t leak constantly because of the nature of toilets (releasing water only when flushed), and water may take time to find its way to the ceiling below. Sound familiar? Good news! Replacement flanges are relatively inexpensive. Also, they are easy to install using proper manufacturer's instruction.

Possibility #2: Let’s keep our fingers crossed on this one. The same problem (wear and tear of flange and surrounding area) may lead to larger problems like subfloor damage. Most subfloors, especially on a second floor, are made out of wood, usually plywood. Water damage over time can break down a subfloor and lead to major problems such as weakened (soft) flooring, rotting floor joist, damaged insulation, and mold, not to mention leaking. Obviously this would be a larger problem, one in which you would need to retain a professional. However, if you’re handy or you have a handy husband, this problem can be detected in the early stages with some “Home Detective” work. Look for soft spots, discoloration, unusual smells (not coming from your husband LOL). These “visible” problems are extreme. To check the area for “near future” or hidden problems, take a sharp pointed tool like a screwdriver and poke around the flange area checking for weaknesses.

My advice: Remove to the toilet and use our “Home Detective” techniques before you spend money on a professional. If you find that the area is not damaged, try installing a new “replacement flange” and, of course, a new wax seal. Keep your eye on the area. If it still leaks, even randomly, call a professional. If you do find problem areas like we talked about, call a professional.

TIP: NEVER seal the bottom of the toilet bowl with waterproof caulk or anything else for that matter. NEVER! You want to know if your toilet is leaking before it’s too late.
By all means, if you are in the process and you need further advice right away, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ll be there for you. Write to

Don’t panic. We’ll get through this. Like I said, this is a very common problem.

Good luck.


Q: Does it cost more to heat your home than it does to cool it with the A/C?


A: Short answer, no. We talked last week about setting your thermostat to “comfort zone” in the winter. Same advice for A/C in the summer. HVAC (heating, venting, air conditioning) systems work the same exact way for both heat and cooling. We’re looking for steady temperature levels in all rooms to allow your HVAC system to work properly and in turn save you money.

Thank you.


Q: Hi—I'm Anthony's Mom—I wish I had all this great info 40 years ago. But, thanks to you, my son, you are making repairs easy for all these nice people!


—Janet Gilardi

A: Hi Mom, I was wondering when you were going to chime in. Thanks for the kind “motherly” words as always. However, I’m confused about the statement “40 years ago” since you should know I’m only 26. LOL. Talk to you soon. Thanks for the constant support. You’re the best.  


+++ Ask Anthony your home repair questions in the comments below. He'll be back in the New Year with an answer for one lucky Mom!

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