Another toilet flange question

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by greyhound1, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. greyhound1

    greyhound1 New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    We purchased a Toto Ultramax II toilet for an existing powder room which we are renovating. The installer put 1/2" plywood and 1/2" cement board above the 3/4" planks original sub-floor. Tile is being installed on top of the cement board.

    As a brief history, 1/2" plywood was also laid on the sub-floor planks outside of the the powder room, (and the rest of the first floor) where 3/4" hardwood will be laid. The plywood was laid so that the finished flooring could be laid to run the "long length" of the house. The powder room is on the first floor and there is a basement underneath, so there is access to all piping.

    ANYWAY... the installer affixed the plastic flange to the top of the cement board and has started to tile around the flange. It appears that the top of the flange may be slightly higher or level with the new tile floor. The tile job was temporarily stopped because we were short on tile. Since all of the floor tile has not been set, the grout has not yet been applied.

    I've seen other flange questions in this forum, but my question is: before the powder room floor is finished (it's a small small floor, 4' by 4.5') should I insist that the two tiles presently fitted around the flange be replaced and the flange reset on top of the finished floor?, or should I leave it it as is (i.e., with new plastic flange sitting slightly higher or flush with new tile)?

    Practically speaking..What should I do?

    The installer has informed me that this is the way he always sets toilet flanges, and he does come recommended. But be that as it may, this is my house, and I want to know what you think.

    Terry, if you do not mind, I would welcome your response, as well!

    Lividly,

    Greyhound1
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,510
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    HOW did he install the new flange? Was it over an existing one, or to a "raw" pipe sticking out of the floor?
  3. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet New Member

    Messages:
    371
    Location:
    Seattle. WA
    While it is true that the flange "ought" to sit on top of the finished floor (the tile in this case), I am sure you will understand why so
    many installers succumb to the convenience of putting it on top of the tile underlayment instead. In my experience, it will make very
    little practical difference. It is not all that difficult to make a "spacer" of an appropriate thickness to slip under the flange, either
    of plywood or cement board, and is vastly preferrable to actual tiles going under the flange. In many cases, such a spacer can be
    retrofitted to an existing flange. If I were in your shoes, I would ask the installer to insert such a spacer, if possible, but I would not
    require that he recut the existing tiles.
  4. greyhound1

    greyhound1 New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    HJ:

    Old ABS pipe and flange were removed, new PVC pipes from flange down through floor, angled to main stack.
  5. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,905
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    95% of the flanges in the Seattle area in new construction are on the subfloor, and the underlayment is cut around the flange. This makes it a two wax ring installation. It works just fine.
    It's nice if the flange is installed over the finished floor, but I almost never see that. Sioux Chief makes a nice plastic spacer that lifts a flange a bit higher.
  6. greyhound1

    greyhound1 New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Thanks for the reply Terry (and to ALL).

    The flange installed is the Sioux Chief TKO (3" I believe), and the top of the flange sits slightly higher than the soon-to-be-finished tile floor.

    Is a 3/4" spacer necessary in this installation? If it is used in this application, the flange will sit 3/4" above the finished floor.

    Also, I spoke with a tech rep from TOTO late yesterday, and I informed him that I purchased the Ultramax II and that the installed Sioux Chief closet flange was slightly higher (1/16") than the finished floor. He informed me that his department advises customers to install closet flanges flush mounted (I am not sure if it was because I informed him that I had an Ultramax II?).

    He also told me to get a one inch wax ring and that this would be sufficient for the Ultramax II in this application.

    Do you recommend in this application (or have you used in other applications) the wax ring with the plastic funnel or bell? This would appear to direct the flow of water down into the pipe better than a plain wax ring. What do you think?

    Finally, since TOTO did not supply the flange/closet bolts to attach the toilet to the flange, do you recommend 1/4" brass or stainless steel bolts?

    Thanks to everyone (in advance) who replies!

    Greyhound1
  7. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,905
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    If the flange is on the floor; one wax ring
    If the flange is lower, two wax rings.

    The Ultramax II installs like any other toilet.

    I use brass closet bolts. They sometimes need to be cut shorter. I've never used stainless bolts for closet bolts.
    The big box stores sell plated steel. Just one more reason I don't buy supplies there.
  8. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,828
    Location:
    New York, NY
    If using one wax ring, no funnel. If two, funnel one on top. The purpose of the wax ring is to provide a seal, not to "direct the water" anywhere. The toilet does just fine directing the water into the waste pipe.

    As far as what Toto told you about how to set the flange, the bottom line is there is a right way, there is an unacceptably-wrong way, and there is a lot of stuff in the middle, most of which can be solved with an extra wax ring. We have discussed how to do it "right", but as you can see there is no problem with how you have it. I wouldn't bother with a spacer if it's going to put the top of the flange 3/4" off the top of the finished floor.

    Just get some good brass closet bolts and a horn-less wax ring, and your installation will be fine.
  9. greyhound1

    greyhound1 New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Terry and WJ:

    Thanks again for the input. As an update, the extra box of tile has just come in so installation resumes on 10/22/12.

    I took the liberty of going on the Sioux Chief website and contacting my local plumbing supply store regarding flange extension rings. As you are aware (although I was not) Sioux Chief does have a 1/4" Raise-A-Ring, Closet Flange Extension Ring, which fits on top of the flange that was already set. My plumbing supply store also carries similar 1/4" ring raisers but by Plumbest. (I was under the misunderstanding that the only spacer available from Sioux Chief was 3/4"). From what I understand, the only difference between the two manufacturers, is that the Sioux Chief raise a ring is ABS and the Plumbest is PVC. Does that matter?

    Since the toilet has not been set yet, should I pick up the 1/4" spacer at my plumbing supply store and have the spacer installed on top of the existing flange before the toilet is set?

    If 1/4" above the finished floor is the correct way to install this flange (i.e., the height this flange would sit above the finished floor if properly set on top of the finished floor) , I would rather have the flange set at a height at which professional plumbers (like yourselves) would set it. I will presume that since the originally installed flange is 1/4", then the extender should also be 1/4" to raise it as if it were set on the finished floor.

    I would imagine if the 1/4" extender is used, then only one wax ring will be used.

    Also, do you recommend caulking the toilet at the bottom onto the tile, when installation is complete?

    Thanks again for your input. My wife and I sincerely appreciate it!

    Greyhound1
  10. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,905
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I do not recommend spacers on top of a closet flange. If you decide to stack a spacer on top of a flange, you better goo it up with plenty of Silicone and then let that dry before attempting to set anything on it. It's just one more joint that can leak.
  11. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,828
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Greyhound: Just to clarify, the thing Terry recommended was what Sioux Chief calls a "spacer", which goes under the flange and is 3/4". What Terry does not recommend is what Sioux Chief calls an "extension ring" and goes on top of the flange. In other posts, I have seen him explain that the extension rings are a much-more-likely source of leaks than just an extra wax ring.

    So...I would suggest that you just use your flange as-is, and if it is higher than the level of the floor, which it is, just drop a nice no-funnel wax ring in there and you should be fine. When you press down on the toilet as you are setting it, you should feel it smush down a bit into the wax, and if it does, you know you're fine, because that means the wax is being compressed between the top of the flange and the underside of the toilet base. Don't overthink it or worry about it. If you're inclined to worry about it, just measure from the lip of the base of the toilet (which will sit on the floor) to the underside of the toilet that will be meeting the wax (i.e. next to the drain hole but not the protrusion in the china, which will sit inside the width of the waste pipe). Then measure the distance from the floor to the top of the flange and then add to that the height of the wax ring. If the sum of the latter is bigger than the former, you can be confident that you are all set. For what it's worth, a lot of people install toilets where the top of the flange is level with the floor, and use a singe wax ring, and they are fine. You have a little extra distance because the top of your flange is a little above the floor. Alternatively, if you're still worried about it, you can use a thick wax ring, most of which will come with that flange, although you should be able to get one without the flange at a plumbing supply. Your choice.

    As far as caulking, yes, caulk around the base, in the little gap that will be between the base and the tile. One thing that you might want to consider is to neaten up your bead of caulk with that little $1 plastic tool that you can get at the hardware store, so that it's a nice even bead all the way around. You'll see what I mean. It's easy once you get the hang of it. And remember, a primary and practical reason you are caulking is not as much to keep stuff from escaping from under the toilet, but rather to keep water and schmutz from getting under the toilet when you, say, wash the bathroom floor. In other words, you're sealing it up at least as much to keep stuff out as to keep stuff in.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2012
  12. greyhound1

    greyhound1 New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Thanks Terry and WJ:

    After reading your recent posts (and re-reading the posts of others) I am going to leave the flange as is. I certainly do not want to create more problems with additional joints (to leak). I am satisfied with your recommendations which have added "perspective" to this issue. The main reason for my ire is that I just wanted the flange set correctly during the renovation (i.e., during installation of the new pvc drain pipe, flange, sub-floor, tile, etc.), especially when I explained to my installer BEFORE HAND that I wanted the flange on top of the finished floor. But as I said earlier, he does come recommended, and this is his method of installation.

    I trust that all will go well now that I am reassured that the "top of flange flush with finished floor" installation is at the very least, "common".

    Thanks again to everyone for all of your help.

    I'm still amazed (I'm 51) that I can chat with and get expert advice from, skilled practitioners from Washington State, New York, Arizona, etc., when I am in Philadelphia, on this "thing" called the internet. Jeez!

    Sincerely,

    Greyhound1
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