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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    toilet flange replacement

    What we thought to be a leaky shower pan might actually be the toilet flange, based on the location of the stain on the kitchen ceiling. Since the bathroom and kitchen both need to be renovated at some point, figured I'd give it a shot.

    Fixing the leak would either buy us more procrastination time, or make things worse and force us to renovate ASAP.

    YouTube videos make it look easy: Unscrew the water feed from the tank, empty water, unbolt, move toilet, replace wax ring, put everything back.

    What the videos failed to mention: Hose is too tightly connected to tank to be unscrewed easily; bolts are caulked in under the caps; entire toilet is caulked/cemented to the floor

    Managed to unscrew the hose from the wall connection instead, no big deal. Hacksawed some of the crumbled mess from the bolts. Now, I'm chiseling out the seal between the toilet and the floor. Been at this for an hour and the toilet still won't budge.

    This is my first attempt at bathroom repair, so I'm sure to do something stupid, if I haven't already. You guys must have experience with this in any case.

  2. #2
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    The last time I did this was about 15 years ago. I have two distinct memories: The toilet is much heavier than I anticipated and OMG that smell!
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  3. #3
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    I'm afraid you'll be at it quite a while and need to make a trip or two. At a minimum I would use the opportunity to replace the hose. Depending how old the toilet is you might want to get a rebuild kit or replace it altogether. Finally, that grout probably kept the toilet level. You may need shims to keep it from rocking.

  4. #4
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    Go read the Aaarrrgghh thread

    Yes, it is that simple really. The hard part is actually getting the old nasty crap out. Based on what you described, you should not really need a chisel. use a blade and cut the caulk. Unless you mean grout, in which case.. murder the prior owner and chisel away.

    The hardest part about setting the toilet down on the wax ring, is that if you mess up, new ring time (good thing they are only a few dollars). Helps if you have a helper though. They do sell newer non wax based rings which are easier to use, but 5 times the price ($10 to $15), or a hybrid wax/rubber ring (I tend to use these).

    Depending on how attached you are to the toilet, it might be time for a new one, they look nicer, and dual flush ones are good for the environment with low flow options (unless you eat at Chipotle a lot.... )

    Use shims to level, then caulk around the base to hide the gap and shims.

    Also, it is not the flange that is the problem, unless you have a broken flange (that is the part in the floor that you connect to the toilet with a wax ring)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtrac View Post
    I'm afraid you'll be at it quite a while and need to make a trip or two. At a minimum I would use the opportunity to replace the hose. Depending how old the toilet is you might want to get a rebuild kit or replace it altogether. Finally, that grout probably kept the toilet level. You may need shims to keep it from rocking.
    +1 on all counts. Look at getting a longer hose, to make things easier on yourself in the future. It's straightforward and simple, not necessarily easy.

    To the best of my knowledge, in Michigan at least (NY might be different), there's no need to caulk or grout around the base of a toilet. One protip I've acquired...not sure if this will help your situation, but if you can drain the tank, you can usually remove the tank itself to make it easier to get around the back and sides of the bowl.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by old_fuji View Post
    +1 on all counts. Look at getting a longer hose, to make things easier on yourself in the future. It's straightforward and simple, not necessarily easy.

    To the best of my knowledge, in Michigan at least (NY might be different), there's no need to caulk or grout around the base of a toilet. One protip I've acquired...not sure if this will help your situation, but if you can drain the tank, you can usually remove the tank itself to make it easier to get around the back and sides of the bowl.
    Yep, and while you are at it, they sell kits to replace all the gaskets and screws, as those inside the tank usually get pretty nasty, and once you break the seal, they will forever leak. I'm not sure about code requirements (I live in MD anyways), but ideally you want to caulk (not grout) around the toilet. This prevents rotting in the event moisture gets in there. Especially if there is a shower or tub in the room where the floors will typically get wet. The subfloor is exposed around the flange. Grout, even when sealed, will eventually allow moisture through. You can use sanded caulk if you want the grout look to match the floors.

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I knew you guys would come through!

    Apparently, caulking the toilet is not necessary, but part of the code in some places.

    The tile floor under the toilet has a crack running along underneath the corner, from the left side to the back. Makes me wonder if the house has settled and caused the ring to become uneven/leak.

    It's a classic pink Standard toilet and I'd like to keep it around for a while, since it's functional and appears to be a classic! Can't get the pepto-pink fixtures anymore. I'm trying not to smash it with the hammer.

    John had replaced the water-connection hose at some point, not sure why he tightened it so much. He was adamant that I not unscrew it from the wall fixture, but that was the easiest part, so I'm not sure why he said not to.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christine View Post
    I knew you guys would come through!

    Apparently, caulking the toilet is not necessary, but part of the code in some places.

    The tile floor under the toilet has a crack running along underneath the corner, from the left side to the back. Makes me wonder if the house has settled and caused the ring to become uneven/leak.

    It's a classic pink Standard toilet and I'd like to keep it around for a while, since it's functional and appears to be a classic! Can't get the pepto-pink fixtures anymore. I'm trying not to smash it with the hammer.

    John had replaced the water-connection hose at some point, not sure why he tightened it so much. He was adamant that I not unscrew it from the wall fixture, but that was the easiest part, so I'm not sure why he said not to.
    Settling over time can cause a leak in the seal, but also, wax rings just crap out (yes I did that on purpose ) over time and eventually need to be replaced. If your tile on the floor is cracking, it means that whenever it was tiled, they did not use an uncoupling membrane (The orange Ditra stuff works well), or a latex modified thinset which allows for some movement. Large tiles on any subfloor that might move is always going to be a problem, it's why we went with small tiles in the bathroom pictures I posted in the other thread, with the uncoupling membrane under it (which also provides additional waterproofing).

  9. #9
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    After my lunch break, just had a few more minutes of chiseling before the toilet began to budge finally. Didn't think I'd be able to move it myself, but some stubborn patience did the trick.

    And now, the moment of truth! Behold.......toilet flange replacement-0403181409.jpg

    I'm very pleased with myself, though this is only the halfway point. No sewer gas stench, oddly enough. I may have chiseled out part of the toilet itself, but don't want to tip over the toilet trying to see the bottom.

  10. #10
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    so, when was your house built...?

    I have the exact same tile in my bathroom, only it's in green. home was constructed in 1951...
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  11. #11
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    Bust out the arm length industrial rubber gloves.. cleaning that is gross.. don't melt it with a hair dryer, experience has tought me.. it gets grosser..

  12. #12
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    so, when was your house built...?

    I have the exact same tile in my bathroom, only it's in green. home was constructed in 1951...


    Is the situation that bad?? 1949. Tile could definitely be replaced, but I also plan on sledge-hammering out the cast-iron tub first.

  13. #13
    pmf
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    Congrats on doing something my wife would never attempt. When you go to Home Depot, make sure you buy several wax rings. I always screw up the first one, and usually the second one as well. Might want to have John help you put the toilet back in. It needs to go down on the floor, through those two bolts level to the floor, or you screw up the wax ring. It's not necessary to caulk around the bottom of the toilet. Like you found out -- it makes it a lot harder to remove the thing. I usually replace the water supply hose when I do this. If you didn't seem so attached to the pink toilet, I'd suggest replacing the whole thing with a Toto Drake.

    Last time i did that was some years ago when I suspected the seal was broken and sewer gas was leaking into one of the bathrooms. Replaced the ring and then discovered a stinky diaper left in the bathroom trashcan from when we had some friends over a few days earlier. They haven't been invited back since.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christine View Post
    so, when was your house built...?

    I have the exact same tile in my bathroom, only it's in green. home was constructed in 1951...


    Is the situation that bad?? 1949. Tile could definitely be replaced, but I also plan on sledge-hammering out the cast-iron tub first.
    The tub in my pictures is cast iron.. it weighs 350ish pounds.. a sledge hammer will not help you, and may actually hurt you (metal on metal with force...). they are heavy enough that when placed up against the studs, and then tiled around, they don't go anywhere. Now I can't say for sure how yours was installed, but mine was installed like that, use a tool to disconnect the drain and just have some burly men or women (I used 2 and a dolly, and discovered we should have had more as my friend hurt his back) walk it out.

  15. #15
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    And as to local code ?, there is zero possibility a NYC building inspector is going to take apart a toilet to see if you caulked. Neither is the engineer inspecting the house when you sell.

    Thus do what is correct in your situation and if no need for caulk, skip it.

  16. #16
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    Oh, and at least according to a few plumbing contractors I've dealt with at work, you don't need to reef on everything to get it manly tight. You just need to make enough contact for the seals and gaskets to do their jobs...and don't forget the Teflon tape!
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  17. #17
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    Seems that once you get the initial hole in the tub, the rest goes fairly easily. Again, however, this is going by what I've seen on YouTube, which also showed how "simple" it is to replace the toilet thing.......

    Just got back from the hardware store: wax ring, screws, washers, and plaster of paris. Hope these fit.

  18. #18
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    make sure you buy several wax rings. I always screw up the first one, and usually the second one as well. Might want to have John help you put the toilet back in

    Dammit just got back from the hardware store with one ring! John suggested four bolts, but the guy said two should suffice, as they're sold in pairs anyway. I'm not even sure what to do with the plaster........

    John's new job has him working like crazy- extra hours and even Saturdays, so I'm trying to pick up some of the slack. Hoping to have most of this done by tonight so he can just help me seat the toilet.

    You just need to make enough contact for the seals and gaskets to do their jobs...and don't forget the Teflon tape!

    Teflon tape?? Might need that for Part II: Subfloor replacement

  19. #19
    pmf
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    You only need two replacement bolts. They fit under slots in the cast iron pipe. Be careful not to crank them down too hard. You can crack the bottom of the toilet. Ask me how I know.

    "Dammit just got back from the hardware store with one ring!"

    You're probably a better plumber than me -- maybe you don't need a spare (or two). You don't need teflon tape on the water supply hose. Hand tightening should be adequate. Maybe a slight turn with a pair of pliers.

    Plaster? What's that for?

  20. #20
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    Ahhhhh spring is in the air, when a homeowners fancy turns to TRASHING THE HOUSE!
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Touch0Gray View Post
    Ahhhhh spring is in the air, when a homeowners fancy turns to TRASHING THE HOUSE!
    Yeah, my wife is talking about replacing the carpet in our "atrium/cat toy/sitting room" with slate to match our entry way and mud room. She'll be paying a contractor (if any will take such a small job) and I hope to stay out of the whole ordeal.

    I've done enough landscaping, fence/deck, and minor indoor work over the past 10 years that I can take a pass on this one.

  22. #22
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    You should not need teflon tape on this install. A plumber told me he always uses two wax rings per install, I tried it and it works great, Use one premium one with the rubber skirt and one bare bones type on top. If the wax isn't pliable enough a couple secs in the Microwave does wonders. Is that plaster on the floor or is it maybe drywall mud, Scrape/chisel it off with a painters 5 in one tool. Make sure your flange bolts are stainless steel and make sure they aren't too long or the caps wont snug up. Make sure you replace the supply line, you are asking for an unfixable drip if you don't.

  23. #23
    hfc
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christine View Post
    I knew you guys would come through!

    Apparently, caulking the toilet is not necessary, but part of the code in some places.


    It's a classic pink Standard toilet and I'd like to keep it around for a while, since it's functional and appears to be a classic! Can't get the pepto-pink fixtures anymore. I'm trying not to smash it with the hammer.
    Wrong forum - this needs to be in the classic and vintage toilet section.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
    And as to local code ?, there is zero possibility a NYC building inspector is going to take apart a toilet to see if you caulked. Neither is the engineer inspecting the house when you sell.

    Thus do what is correct in your situation and if no need for caulk, skip it.
    It has less to do with code, and more to do with aesthetics. Unless you have a perfectly flat level floor, there are going to be gaps when you shim the base to level the toilet. Caulking is easy to remove, just run a blade along it, there is no real reason not to do it.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christine View Post
    Seems that once you get the initial hole in the tub, the rest goes fairly easily. Again, however, this is going by what I've seen on YouTube, which also showed how "simple" it is to replace the toilet thing.......

    Just got back from the hardware store: wax ring, screws, washers, and plaster of paris. Hope these fit.
    I'm trying really hard not to say "that's what he/she said" there

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