Whether you have a low-flow toilet or an old-timey “throne,” if the wax seal fails at the floor flange, you’re going to have to take care of it ASAP. It’s not a fun project, but definitely easy enough for an average do-it-yourselfer to accomplish. Since it means lifting the toilet up off the floor, have a friend there to lend a hand. The rest is fairly easy.

You’ll need to shut the water supply off under the toilet. If you don’t have a shut-off valve there, now might be a good time to add one. If you still have water in the tank, flush it to get it out of the way. If the leak is really bad, you may want to siphon it out or start bailing. One way or another, all of the water needs to be removed from the toilet.

The toilet needs to be removed next. If the tank is connected to the bowl with bolts, remove these and set them aside. Then carefully lift the tank off and set it aside too.

The bowl usually is bolted to the floor flange by two bolts, one on either side at the base. Loosen the nuts on the bolts and try turning them to see if you can lift the bowl off the floor. Carefully set it and the bolts aside as well. You may want to stuff a rag into the sewer pipe to keep the smell from backing up but be very careful that it doesn’t slip down into the pipe, or you’ll have to add another step to this project.

You need to clean all traces of the old wax ring off of the bottom of the toilet bowl and the floor flange. Then make sure the area around both is clean and dry.

Install the bolts, facing upward and straight. Pull the rag out of the drain line, if you used one.

The new wax ring should be placed on to the bottom of the base of the toilet. Then carefully set it down over the bolts and floor flange, keeping it level and straight as you do so. Then give it a little twist to make a good connection. Use your level to check and adjust the toilet so it will be as level as possible. Tighten the nuts on the bolts, being careful not to overtighten them, which could crack the porcelain. If the tank was separate, install it next, making sure to use the proper gaskets so it won’t leak.

Once you’ve checked it for leaks and corrected any issues, run a bead of caulk around the base where it fits to the floor and cover the nuts with covers that match your toilet.


Q: The window air conditioner that we use occasionally has a bad smell coming from it. I have cleaned the filter, but the smell is still there. What else can I clean or replace? – M.B.

A: As the condensation drips from the coils, it fills a tray and drains away. There is a fungus that likes these conditions, and it can smell bad and clog the drain hole. Use a little liquid laundry bleach, mixed with water, to clean the tray and drain hole. Use warm dishwashing liquid and water to clean the coils while you are at it. That should do the trick.


Q: I have a dilemma. I hung pegboard panels up in my garage years ago. They have lasted a good long time, but I am starting to see one of them is a little warped and bows in toward the wall behind it too much. Is there any way to straighten it out, or should I just replace it? – M.D.

A: If you can get to the sunken-in area from the front side, see if you can wedge a spacer between the panel and the wall and then, without even removing the panel, you should be able to add several spacers and screws where the material is touching the wall. By doing this top and bottom, the warp should go away.


The Planter’s Pal Multi-Purpose Garden Tool looks like a hand trowel, but it’s really seven tools in one. One edge of the trowel is serrated for cutting open bags of soil or mulch, and it has a sharpened straight edge for cutting sod, a twine cutter, a weeder tip, a poly tamper for tamping down stakes, markers and fertilizer spikes, and an 11-inch measurement scale for proper plant placement. Even the ergonomic grip is great. Look for it at your garden center or online at

Got a question or a handy tip? Visit